Tricia Bauer

Selected Works

A novel in vignettes, Father Flashes, won the first Catherine Doctorow Prize for Innovative Fiction. In the book’s foreword, Carole Maso writes “I think of the novel as a form – its elasticity, its capacity to create wonder and terror and beauty.”
"Bauer tells a heartfelt and humorous story about a young girl's journey toward self-discovery and the meaning of family." Booklist
"Bauer's prose flexes with the narrative muscle of a veteran author... The real delight here, however, is Bauer's graceful and tender exploration of two people with extraordinary dreams finding happiness in plain, ordinary ways." Publishers Weekly
"The promise of Bauer's quietly acute story collection, Working Women, is movingly realized in this contemporary odyssey of a retired couple who journey with their young grandaughter through America amid upcropping dangers and fears." Kirkus Reviews (starred)
"The author's real focus is on the subtle discoveries that shape our ideas about ourselves -- about what we are and what we may become...Ms. Bauer's prose is as unpretentious as most of her characters, but its accumulation of simple, apparently artless detail sometimes leads to surprising depths, abrupt revelations of life's possibilities as well as its pain." The New York Times Book Review


1997 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers book
"Now with her first novel, Boondocking, Bauer confirms that she is indeed a force to be reckoned with. In this finely crafted novel, Bauer examines the world of a retired couple and the subculture of RV travel...Bauer has done the small miracle of taking an unseemly set of circumstances and turning out a wholly believable story, with a sensitive portrayal of the emotional life of a non-traditional family."

January 1998, one of eight books named to Kirkus Reviews' Annual List of the Also Deserving

Library Journal's Best First Novels list

"In this surprising gem of a first novel, Bauer writes with a fresh eye for the minutiae of everyday life, reminiscent of Barbara Kingsolver and Bobbie Ann Mason." Jo Manning, Library Journal

"Boondocking is a story about an unusual -- and mostly unknown -- way of American life. It is about the new American family, grandparents raising grandchildren. Bauer's writing is graceful and spare, her characters genuine." Janet Cooper, The Providence Journal

"Bookdocking is unique in its focus on the subculture of RVers...Skillfully written...The novel's premise is wonderful, and Bauer, author of the acclaimed story collection Working Women and Other Stories, is clearly talented...Fascinating, generative premise..Reads quickly and well." Melissa Pritchard, Chicago Tribune

"You DO want to find out what happens, and finding out out is well worth an occasional bump in the ride." Andrea Higbie, The New York Times Book Review

"Tricia Bauer has a keen eye for detail, which she uses to good effect in her first novel, Boondocking...Bauer not only provides a vivid, believable account of the Vaeths and their adventures on the road, but she also offers a closer look at the many ways in which trailer-life affects their sense of themselves and their perception of the world spinning by around them." Merle Rubin, The Christian Science Monitor

"Bauer writes easily and well, and is adept at showing the essential poetry in simplicity...Bauer details a unique portrait of a transient RV 'culture.'" Debra Ginsberg, The San Diego Union-Tribune

"Rita's childhood and adolescence are journeys within a journey, insightfully described as the novel explores the evolving configurations of family and diverse definitions of 'home.'" Colleen Kelly Warren, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Is exploring seldom touched ground in contemporary literature -- finding your way in retirement, when for many people the usual signposts in life are cast aside: work, the house where children were raised, proximity to family and friends, and the common rises and falls of a structured daily life...Bauer is strong at drawing her main characters." John A. Cutter, St. Petersburg (FL) Times

"Anyone who has wanted to sell his house, give up most of his possessions and hit the road in a recreational vehicle should enjoy reading Boondocking." The Chattanooga Times

"This is a compassionately told story about the unexpected twists in life and the accommodations that must be made." Enid Robbins, Booklist

"Bauer's novel has been drawing critical praise for its compassionate look at ordinary people and everyday life...Boondocking reveals some of the compensations of coping with change and loss: adventure, unexpected friendships, the camaraderie of the campsites, new-found courage, and deep family ties." Virginia Read, American Bookseller magazine feature


1) In the subculture of the RV world, "boondocking" means parking for the night or longer in non-designated camping areas without hookups for necessities such as electricity and water. How does this metaphor relate to Sylvia and Clayton's new way of life?

2) On page 33, Sylvia thinks that the middle class "valued things that could vanish with carelessness." Discuss some of the values that are particular to the working class. Why do you think that working class lives are less celebrated in fiction that those of priviledged or poverty-stricken characters?

3) Does Melvin elicit your sympathy at any point in the book? If so, why?

4) Discuss the growing practice of grandparents raising their grandchildren and how this affects all members of a family. Why do grandparents often form a special bond with their grandchildren that even parents can't penetrate?

5) How would Rita's character be different if she'd gone into hiding instead of taking to the road with her grandparents? What kind of life do you suppose she will have ten years from the close of the book?

6) The author chooses to tell this story from three different points of view. Why do you think she has each character focus on the specific time frame? For instance, why is Sylvia the one to start the book? How do you feel about the final section accommodating all their points of view?

7) What is the novel saying about the evolution of the American family? Is home strictly a concept or does it require some form of physical grounding?