Charles Baxter

Charles Baxter was born in 1947 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He graduated from Macalester College in Saint Paul, after which he taught in high school in Pinconning, Michigan for a year. He went to the State University of New York, at Buffalo, to complete his graduate work in English, in 1974, where he completed his PhD in English. He taught at Wayne State for several years before he went to the University of Michigan’s English Department where he directed the writing program. He currently teaches at the University of Minnesota. He has written five novels, five collections of short stories, three poem collections, and two collections of essays on fiction and is the editor of other works. His first novel was First Light which was written in 1987, and his first collection of short stories was written in 1984, a book called Harmony of the Worlds, which won the Associated Writing Programs Award.

Charles Baxter likes to write about true events. In his book the Soul Thief, he inputs parts of a real even that happened to him. In an interview with Angela Stubbs he mentions the fact that in real life his friend had been using his name as a pen name. Baxter mentions that he was upset to learn that his friend was using his name, as well as being disappointed about losing a friend. Stubbs asks where the idea for the book came from.“Something once happened to me that was a dramatic distant-cousin to what happened to Nathaniel. Someone went around Los Angeles for a while claiming to be Charles Baxter. I thought about that for years and finally felt that I was ready to write about it (but I had to have some formal problems in the story solved so that I could do it),” was Charles Baxter’s response.

Critical Essay/Review:
The Feast of Love:
Bradely-Charles.jpgk-j.jpg(Bradley and Charles) (Kathryn and Jenny)
The Soul Thief:

My Reaction:
For Feast of Love:
When I first started reading the preludes I had no idea what to expect from this book. Looking at the title and the cover I assumed that the book would be some sappy love story that would end in the two main characters falling in love and ending up together for the rest of their lives, that was not it at all. The Beginning surprised me quite a lot. I mean I wasn’t expecting for the novel to be about Charles Baxter’s conversation with his neighbor, and bout the neighbor’s life. I was definitely not expecting to hear a story about a man and his two, tragic marriages, about how they both didn't work. Charles Baxter, the name of the narrator in the book, took parts of a real life event and turned it into a collection of stories about the events from different view point, which really interested me. This book allowed me to relate more to the different relationship situations, dealing with the different types of love, that the characters have, rather than having to imagine my own feelings based off of the relationships that I’ve been through. While I am not married nor have I ever been married the ideas talked about are realistic and relatable. I enjoyed being able to experience all the different feelings of the people in those complicated relationships, being able to see the different views of the characters as they told their side of the story to the narrator. It allowed me to relate more to the characters, to imagine the type of environment that the characters where in and feel the same emotions. I could put myself in the shoes of the character; I was able to become the characters in each of the stories. By having the main character in the book serve as the narrator, this helped keep me, as the reader, emotionally detached from the characters so that I didn’t favor one character more than the other and could understand the different sides of the stories equally.

For The Soul Thief:
I thought this book was wildly suspenseful. Every twist and turn of the novel kept me on my toes. Each character different but adding a lot to the story line and they were all needed and not one was wasted. Jerome Coolberg made the entire novel possible. If it weren’t for him the whole motif of taking an identity from someone would have been lost. Coolberg takes “identity theft to a whole other level. By adding him in the novel Baxter makes the reader think about what is really going on and whether Nathan’s identity id really being stolen. Then having the burglar in the novel make the reader wonder what part of Nathan’s identity he was stealing. The whole novel keeps the reader’s mind wrapped around this idea of identity and what it really means when someone seals it.

Other Interesting Things
Movie trailor of The Feast of Love, which Charles Baxter helped make into a movie.

(Oscar and Chloe)

Picture of the D.V.D. cover of the movie The Feast of Love.

Charles Baxter Interview

Works Cited