A Kind of Flying: Selected Stories

( 2 )


"These stories are full of surprises, jolts, and lightning strikes of recognition. Do yourself a favor and read Ron Carlson."—Stephen King
Ron Carlson's stories come at us from all directions. Sometimes wicked or bittersweet, often zany, they are rich with a hard-earned hopefulness frequently absent in contemporary fiction. In this generous gathering from collections no longer available, longtime fans and new readers alike can savor the development of a master of idiosyncrasy.

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A Kind of Flying: Selected Stories

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"These stories are full of surprises, jolts, and lightning strikes of recognition. Do yourself a favor and read Ron Carlson."—Stephen King
Ron Carlson's stories come at us from all directions. Sometimes wicked or bittersweet, often zany, they are rich with a hard-earned hopefulness frequently absent in contemporary fiction. In this generous gathering from collections no longer available, longtime fans and new readers alike can savor the development of a master of idiosyncrasy.
In "Blazo" and other equally poignant tales, men and women are challenged when things don't work out as expected. Other stories deal with surprising transformations—for a baseball player turned killer-by-accident, for a nineteen-year-old who experiences an unsettling sexual awakening. Here is a man accusing Bigfoot of stealing his wife, followed by Bigfoot's incomparable response. Not least of the treasures is "The H Street Sledding Record," a story perfect for family holiday reading, in which a young father "creates" the magic of Santa by throwing manure on his roof on Christmas Eve.
Prepare to be amused, moved, and disturbed by stories that make a difference.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Carlson achieves one hard balancing act after the next, and each of these 33 stories -- from the more uncanny early imaginings to the more plausibly grounded later pieces -- finds some way to prickle the neck hairs. We are caught off guard, even as we feel the practiced hand of the maker. — Sven Birkerts
Publishers Weekly
Comprising stories from three out of print collections (The News of the World; Plan B for the Middle Class; The Hotel Eden), this hefty compilation showcases Carson's chatty, often playful narrative style and his fascination with the tricky nature of male-female relationships. Most of the stories are written in the first person, and Carlson is a master at confessional narrators: men-husbands, fathers and boyfriends-befuddled by, but enchanted with, the women in their lives. "There's a lot inside a man that never gets out," notes the sheriff-narrator of "Phenomena," but the men hold little back in these pages. In the unforgettable "Bigfoot Stole My Wife," a man tries to convince himself that his wife didn't mean to leave him, but was instead kidnapped by the hairy beast. In "Milk," one of the collection's finest stories, a father who refuses to let his infant twin sons be fingerprinted, thinking it smacks of paranoia, realizes that, because of his overwhelming love for them, "now I am afraid of everything." Carlson's offbeat, frequently hopeful stories stand out amid the starker work of contemporaries like Richard Ford and Tobias Wolff. He doesn't ignore life's rougher spots, though: in "The Hotel Eden" a naive young meteorologist, in love with his girlfriend and thrilled with his new, enigmatic buddy, is forced by an act of betrayal to reconsider his optimism and trust. For fans of short fiction, this should prove a treat. (Oct.) Forecast: While it's a bit daunting in size, this is a good volume to dip into now and then; blurbs from Stephen King and Antonya Nelson testify to Carlson's broad appeal and should help attract readers of both commercial and literary fiction. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Drawn from Carlson's three previously published and highly acclaimed collections-"The News of the World," "Plan B for the Middle Class," and "The Hotel Eden"-this hugely appealing selection is among the finest collections of short fiction you will likely encounter. These wry, generous, elegantly written stories mostly concern professional, middle-class characters struggling to understand themselves and connect meaningfully with others. Many of Carlson's characters are lonely, some are confused, and a few are simply overwhelmed by what life has thrown at them. Yet they are listeners and thinkers who engage life deeply, and they bristle with a remarkable vitality. Thematically, Carlson explores a series of richly complex themes related to finding happiness and living honorably. Some of these stories are whimsical and offbeat ("Bigfoot Stole My Wife"), while others handle the more serious subjects of loss and death. The very best-like "Blazo," "Oxygen," and "The Governor's Ball"-take us places we have never been before. An important and inspiring collection.-Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., CT Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
High entertainment value distinguishes many of the 35 stories here, all distilled from Arizona writer Carlson's first three collections (The Hotel Eden, 1997, etc.). A genial prefatory essay "Friends of My Youth" neatly introduces a writer who's typically inventive, funny, and-rather too often-gimmicky. His narrators parade their eccentricities like designer duds, while beneath such flamboyance fears of marriages collapsing ("Half Life," "The Governor's Ball") and children in peril ("Status Quo," "Milk") insistently surface. Several, however, vividly dramatize familial harmony ("Life Before Science," "The H Street Sledding Record"). Tricky premises ("Zanduce at Second," "On the U.S.S. Fortitude") resemble T.C. Boyle's, but their development lacks that contemporary master's narrative fullness. Elsewhere, Carlson digs deep, finding the embattled humanity that confuses and ennobles such memorable characters as a grieving father tracing his late son's last days in Alaska ("Blazo"), a failed veterinarian-nature writer who finds strength in family and memory ("Plan B for the Middle Class"), and a college student whose summer job delivering "Oxygen" to medical patients saddens him, and makes a man of him. Though Carlson often nods, his best tales will endure, and shouldn't be missed.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393324792
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/17/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 628,097
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Ron Carlson teaches creative writing at Arizona State and lives in Scottsdale. His stories, much anthologized, have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, Esquire, Playboy, and other magazines.

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Table of Contents

Friends of My Youth: Introduction 11
The Governor's Ball 19
The H Street Sledding Record 28
Santa Monica 37
Olympus Hills 45
Life Before Science 50
Bigfoot Stole My Wife 79
I Am Bigfoot 84
The Time I Died 87
Phenomena 94
Milk 108
Blood 121
Max 129
The Status Quo 132
Hartwell 145
DeRay 158
Blazo 173
On the U.S.S. Fortitude 203
Sunny Billy Day 208
The Tablecloth of Turin 224
A Kind of Flying 228
The Summer of Vintage Clothing 232
Plan B for the Middle Class 242
The Hotel Eden 291
Keith 309
The Prisoner of Bluestone 326
Zanduce at Second 339
What We Wanted to Do 350
The Chromium Hook 356
A Note on the Type 371
Nightcap 384
Dr. Slime 398
Down the Green River 413
Oxygen 429
Acknowledgments 463
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2008

    Sledding into Success

    just heard the H St. Sledding Record on Symphony Space on NPR and loved it - and it's so decent! b

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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