Gryphon, New and Selected Stories
Random House
Charles Baxter
“Poor Devil”

“Poor Devil” appears in GRYPHON, Charles Baxter’s new and selected collection of short stories, (Pantheon Books, div. Random House). Baxter is the author of the novels THE FEAST OF LOVE (nominated for the National Book Award), THE SOUL THIEF, SAUL AND PATSY, SHADOW PLAY, and FIRST LIGHT, and five story collections. He lives in Minneapolis and teaches at the University of Minnesota and in the M.F.A. Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.


Jeremiah Chamberlain, in Fiction Writer’s Review said: “Poor Devil” is one of the most moving stories in the [GRYPHON] collection, as it shows not only Charlie’s exquisite language and his ability to render dialogue saturated with subtext, but also the magic of being able to reveal what it’s like to be human. On the surface, it is the simplest of plots: a divorced couple has returned to the home they once shared in order to clean it for the new owners.


Baxter remembers well the genesis of “Poor Devil:” I don’t keep notebook entries anymore, but I once did, and these entries consisted of story ideas and anecdotes that I had heard. The story’s heart has to do with fleeting love–the kind you feel when you see a stranger whose image stays with you for days–but that heart is surrounded by notebook-entry stories that seemed to have the same emotional weight. I remember whale watching when there were no whales. I once got a strange unsigned postcard. A friend in the Bay Area told me about someone who wanted to have his picture taken when he was still handsome. The rest of the story, like most stories, came to my rescue out of thin air.

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