Friday, November 13, 2009

At the Jim Bridger, by Ron Carlson

This is my first reading of a collection of stories by Carlson. He brings the reader right into the room with clean details and an invitation to listen to the characters. In the first story, “Towel Season,” Carlson renders with compassion a mathematician who wanders through the maze of suburban families and pool parties while at the same time noodling his latest equations in his mind: “The chasm between his pencil figurings and the figures of the real world was that, a chasm, and there was no bridge.” But the way he finds himself to a bridge is surprising and satisfying to the reader. In fact, most of these stories find us looking deep into the lives of regular people who when they are cast into a moment of disorientation must find a way out. None of these stories are predictable in their characters or endings and their precise realism lulls us into safe territory where this writer mines the riches of life.

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