There’s Always a Girl


There’s Always a Girl

Barry Spacks

The characters in Barry Spacks’ There’s Always a Girl are poets, painters, actors, writers and musicians struggling to balance the needs of passion and sex with the demands of aesthetic pursuits, and with a need for transcendence.  Beset by the present, enchanted and haunted by the past, their reconciliations come at great cost.  The stories are at once gentle and tough; they shed light on our inner lives with tenderness, humor and compassion.  This is a phenomenal gathering.

— Kirk Nesset, Drue Heinz winner for the story collection Paradise Road

I love the writing that burgeons forth when a poet breaks into prose. Some of my favorites are Mary Oliver, Robert Hass, Robert Graves, and William Carlos Williams. And now Barry Spacks. Every one of the five stories in There’s Always a Girl is great fun —  especially when a character can’t help but burst into poetry.

— Maxine Hong Kingston, author of The Woman Warrior and Trickmaster Monkey

Spacks’s collection of stories can be summed up as serious fun and funnily serious. Or more intently, the writing is serio-comic-whacko; these are stories of astounding realism that acknowledge how surreal all character is.  Spacks gets to the nit-grit-wit of how his characters act out their whys and wherefores as a series of suppositions usually called fiction. The genius in the tone, the genial irony, the looking back and sideways and forward, keep you reading, laughing all the way through an American lesson, like Gatsby’s, only without the stiffness and with genuine charm.

— Shirley Geok-lin Lim, author of Among the White Moon Faces and Joss and Gold

Like a better-natured Philip Roth, or a funnier John Updike, Barry Spacks in his new collection offers the best kind of page-turner: inventive, spirited, and in love with the limitless possibilities of art, song, sex, youth, and women. Especially women. And Spacks’ heroes are as breathlessly, spiritually, and often irreverently, endearing as those in his novels The Sophomore and Orphans. Indeed, There’s Always A Girl deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Bellow’s Humboldt’s Gift and Bukowksi’s Post Office as a work whose tragic-comedy is as richly expressed as a Bob Dylan ballad. In short, Spacks remains one of this country’s greatest writers.

— Paul Kareem Tayyar, Author of In the Footsteps of the Silver King and Scenes From A Good Life