One Thing That Can Save Us

Stories by Barry Silesky

May 1, 1994 • 5.5 x 8.5 • 250 pages • 978-1-56689-020-5

This remarkable collection of stories uses the everyday stuff of living—daily lust and minor losses, unpaid bills and broken plumbing—as a point of departure for darker inquiry.

A subtle pathos and hidden anguish underlie these stories of an average American life. One Thing That Can Save Us is for everyone who has learned that even “the good life” is inhabited by inevitable failures, sadnesses, and doubt: struggles over money, problems with children, emptiness, ambiguity, ex-spouses, war, injustice, and leaky faucets.

With a wistful yet urgent lyricism and a delightful sense of absurdity, One Thing That Can Save Us continues the Coffee-To-Go Short-Short Story Series with literature that transcends brevity to resonate in the reader’s mind.


“Short cuts? No way! These strike like arrows to the heart! They stretch your mind even as they compress your time. Burroughs called his business ‘Naked Lunch.’ Consider Silesky’s terrific condensations—Naked Snack! And good for you, too!” —Alan Cheuse, NPR

“Barry Silesky has taken our selves, our times, our country, and broken them into shards, the kind that make kaleidoscopes so endlessly intriguing, and then he’s shaken the whole thing, hard. The pieces are full of color, wit, and a daring candor; every story is another recombination no one has quite dreamed of before. One Thing That Can Save Us is the world of a man who’s paying the most minute attention to his life, and (though they’ll never know he’s watching) the life of his neighbors. He’s made a fascinating book out of the evidence.” —Rosellen Brown, author of Before & After