With Almighty Me!, Bausch presented a protagonist who has been temporarily granted the power of God but lacks the wisdom to wield it effectively. Charlie Wiggins uses his yearlong omnipotence in ways that are often hilarious but also inadvertently create destruction, including the deaths of several people. Before the book was published, Bausch sold the film rights to Disney for $200,000. In 2003—more than a decade later—Universal Studios and Spyglass Entertainment released Bruce Almighty. While similar to Bausch’s novel, the film does not credit him. And although Disney had supposedly promised him another $100,000 after the completion of principal photography and another $100,000 after the movie was released along with five percent of the net profits, Bausch never saw this money. He considered legal action, but a suit was never filed.
In 1995, Bausch published a collection of short fiction, The White Rooster and Other Stories, which won a prize for the most distinguished fiction from the Dictionary of Literary Biography. Publishers Weekly called these stories “testaments to the human capacity to feel and connect in an emotionally alienating world.” They investigate a range of characters, from a twenty-three-year-old mourning his mother’s death to a former cop who burglarizes his neighbors’ houses.
With A Hole in the Earth, Bausch used the life and character of his father (whom he describes as being “right about most things”) as the inspiration for a story about a man who seems wrong about most things: Henry Porter is a compulsive gambler and a failed father who is unable to cope with the consequences of his behavior. George Garrett praised the novel for its fully dimensional characters and “style … as clean and clear as spring water.” Bausch followed up with The Gypsy Man (2002) and Out of Season (2005), which is set in Columbia Beach, Maryland, during the tourist off-season and tracks the painful reunion of a father with his son, who had years before caused the accidental death of his younger brother.
Bausch served on the board of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation and as an adviser to the literary magazine Peeks and Valleys. A marriage to Geri Marrese ended in divorce. He was married to Denise Natt Bausch from 1982 until his death. Robert Bausch died on October 9, 2018, in Fredericksburg.
- On the Way Home: A Novel (1982)
- The Lives of Riley Chance: A Novel (1984)
- Almighty Me!: A Novel (1991)
- The White Rooster and Other Stories (1995)
- A Hole in the Earth: A Novel (2001)
- The Gypsy Man: A Novel (2002)
- Out of Season: A Novel (2005)