By Adrian Ernesto Cepeda
Robert Bausch has lived quite the astounding literary life. Since his first published novel in 1982, On the Way Home, he has penned eight other novels as well as a short story collection. His third novel, 1991’s Almighty Me was even the creative source for the Universal Film, “Bruce Almighty.” The rights to the book were purchased by Disney Studios who, through Buena Vista, distributed “Bruce Almighty” uncredited. However, the similarities between the film and the book are so clear and showcase how well Robert’s words transcend different media.
In an interview with Renaissance of Reading he partially attributes his literary success to the fact that he was raised in a family of gifted storytellers. “My family was big into storytelling. IN fact, all of my brothers and sisters are wonderful storytellers. Our gatherings are a blast because we sit around and tell and re-tell funny stories. My father was the best storyteller I ever saw. He acted out all the parts, remembered whole conversations and just kept everybody laughing.” With such an upbringing, it is of no surprise that him and his twin brother, Richard, have both led lucrative writing careers.
His childhood could have also easily played into how and why Robert wrote his first novel in eighth grade. It was on the Civil War, as reading about the conflict between the North and South caught his attention tremendously when he was fourteen years old. This novel of his unfortunately remains unpublished, but I would love to read it, as Robert’s latest novel, 2014’s Far as the Eye Can See, shows just how perfectly he can carve a story from that period of American History.
The New York Times praised Robert for having crafted “an entertaining old-school western that owes more to the reluctant-hero tradition of Charles Portis (“True Grit”) than to the bleak nihilism of Cormac McCarthy (“Blood Meridian”). “Far as the Eye Can See” offers the reader a rough ride through the old-school, nothing-fancy, gunslinger-and-damsel frontier. It’s a western. And it’s a damn good advertisement for the tranquil comforts of the East.”
Clearly, nobody writes Civil War fiction like Robert Bausch. He has a certain edge that is all his own. But what makes this southern writer such an unparalleled giant in this field, you might wonder. Well, perhaps it can be chalked up to a quaint little comment Robert made to The Washington when asked to describe his distinctive personality from his twin: “I was more gangster.”
So if you’re a fan of Robert’s extraordinary historical fiction or are new to the Bausch universe, I urge you to come and hear a cast of amazing actors read brilliant short stories by Mr. Bausch and his twin brother Richard at WordTheatre’s Brunch with Twin Novelists and Short Story Writers Richard & Robert Bausch and Their Stories event on Sunday March 8th at the Microsoft Lounge in Venice. You will find yourself lost in Robert’s old school world as his words come off the page.