Accompanied by his newly pregnant wife, Charles Connolly, an older college student on a visit to Chicago to see his mother, leaves his motel room one night late and walks into a convenience store. There, he is involved as a hostage in a murderous robbery that leaves four people dead (including one of the robbers); by throwing himself over another hostage, Charles saves her life. He is quickly acclaimed a hero at the scene, but he slinks off quickly, horrified. What has happened to him--the death, the heroics--seems only to exacerbate an apartness that has been threatening to drive him crazy. The more that people clamor for him, the more victimized he feels--a victimization that slowly and painfully comes to root in buried memories of child abuse and abandonment in his past. Bausch (The Fireman's Wife, Mrs. Field's Daughter, etc.) has worked the theme of a boy's desolation turned adult's disaffection in some of his stories as well--and though the outlines here are clear enough, the densities seem wrong: the book has the pained atmosphere of a short story, few of a novel's turns and complications--it reads like material Bausch never fully found his swing in, distanced and foggy. A disappointment.