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At the Jim Bridger: Stories Hardcover – May 3, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1st edition (May 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312286058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312286057
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,897,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In his collection At the Jim Bridger, Ron Carlson exhibits an old-fashioned humanity. He not only believes in the self, he believes that it's a good thing. The men and boys in these stories stumble into quietly critical moments that invite them to surrender their integrity. Some succumb, some don't, but the author himself is clearly never in doubt that integrity exists and that it matters. The problem is brought up most explicitly in the exquisite, funny opening story, "Towel Season." Edison is a theoretical engineer who lives with his young family in a chummy suburb. Over the course of one summer--one "towel season"--Edison pursues a slippery engineering problem by day and socializes with his neighbors by night. The other dads all work in applied engineering, and they exert a gentle pressure on Edison to get his head out of the clouds. Normal life tugs at Edison, tempting him. His resistance turns the piece into an oddly resonant love story.

Short-fiction fans have likely bumped into "The Ordinary Son" in one anthology or another. It's the unforgettably comic story of the only nongenius in a family of geniuses: "I was hanging out sitting around my bare room, reading books, the History of This, the History of That, dry stuff, waiting for my genius to kick in." At the Jim Bridger is a convention of just such fascinating, ordinary characters. --Claire Dederer

From Publishers Weekly

In this taut, focused collection, veteran short story writer Carlson (The Hotel Eden) captures the ordinary occurrences that define our lives. Sharing graceful, unadorned prose and elegant metaphors, the nine stories and two brief sketches collected here portray characters at moments when the solid ground of reality slips out from under them. High school figures prominently: for Carlson, the teenage years offer the perfect transitional moments, when minor incidents are writ large. Fortunately, he depicts these mundane experiences a boy's first date ("The Potato Gun"), his first fistfight ("At Copper View"), his first car ("The Ordinary Son") with neither condescension nor irony, but a mixture of serious reflection and naive wonder. In "The Ordinary Son," Reed's average intelligence in a family of geniuses makes him its only distinctive member; he amazes his young brother, who is practicing quantum physics with crayons, with the simple pleasure of his brand-new car. Elsewhere, the teenager's unique sense of alienation is a chronic condition: in "Towel Season," Edison's absorbing interest in a highly theoretical engineering project separates him from the neighborhood husbands and wives; in the title story, Donner's recounting of a near-death incident on a camping trip leads to a brief connection between him and a woman who is not his wife. With a precision and consistency rarely achieved in similar collections, this volume should earn Carlson continued, well-deserved recognition. National advertising; author tour.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Whatever and wherever you read, just read this.
Jody A. Reale
The author is considered by many to be an acknowledged master of the short story.
Thomas J. Tucker
I'd read "The Towel Season" in Esquire, and loved it more upon rereading.
Pasiphae

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Scott on October 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
than anybody. "At the Jim Bridger" is Carlson's third book of short stories in a row; each time I didn't think it was possible for him to surpass himself, but somehow he does. His whimsical, funny, sad stories about love and lost and possibility are far truer to me than Carver's stories of dissolution. Carlson has the amazing ability to tell a sweet or happy story without selling out to melodrama or senimentality; he can tell a gut-wrenching story of loss and despair without giving in entirely to cynicism and morbidity. I can't tell you how many friends who tell me "I don't like books of short stories" I've converted to worshippers of Carlson over the years through gifts of "Plan B for the Working Class" and "Hotel Eden"; now I have a new axe to grind, and grind it I will. I can't wait to see his new novel next year.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Adam Johnson on April 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Start with any of these stories, and you'll soon be hooked. Read "At the Jim Bridger" from the front, from the back, it doesn't matter. Soon you'll be grabbing other Carlson books--"News of the World," "Plan B," "Hotel Eden"--and the next thing you know, you'll have devoured everything he's written the way I have. Nobody cares more about the short story than Ron, and it shows. Stories like "Towel Season," "Ordinary Son" and "Potato Gun" are told by narrators who only get one shot making their stories matter to others, and all they have is heart, humor and voice to get them there. And the title piece is an explication on story telling from the master. You simply won't be able to put this book down. One caution, however: if you read this book in public be prepared for strangers glaring at you because of all your laughing.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jody A. Reale on July 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Reading At the Jim Bridger was like catching up with an old friend. These new stories will sound vaguely familiar, but will inevitably end up surprising you. No matter who you are, you'll not only see yourself in each set of characters, but you'll find yourself rooting for them.
A great collection that will serve you well at home, during travel, at the book club. Whatever and wherever you read, just read this.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Joe Lawler on June 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Ron Carlson is perhaps the best short fiction writer in America. He can do something very view authors can do: write a happy story without making it tripe. These stories are funny, moving and true, whether they really happened or not. Pick this up with "The Hotel Eden" and then track down "Plan B for the Middle Class" and "News of the World."
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
There is a decency about the characters in Ron Carlson's short stories that is never sappy, that rings true. And missing is that element so common in so much of today's fiction--smartalecky irony. His people may seem naive, but they also seem real, yearning for completion, meaning in their lives.
Ron Carlson is a major short story writer, in the same league as Raymond Carver and Russell Banks.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Killian HALL OF FAME on December 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you ever get a chance to see Mr. Ron Carlson read some of his work don't miss out. He has many moods, but you might catch him in his Arizona version of Mark Twain mood, where word leaps up on word to outdo everything that has gone before, for a a folklorist of the fabulist he has no peer. Then to turn to the tales collected in AT THE JIM BRIDGER is to fall into a trap of melancholy and missed chances that will remind you of a more varied sort of John Cheever. The suburban outlook is unmistakable, but in Carlson it is endearing. One story, "The Potato Gun," is haunting as anything ever written by Andre Dubus, while "The Towel Season" is like something Nabokov might have written had he a household full of kids.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By BJ on November 8, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ron Carlson is a masterful writer of short stories, that being said, I feel like this book does not stand up to his other collections - The Hotel Eden, Plan B For Middle Class & The News of the World.

I first found Ron Carlson after reading a magazine review of his latest novel, The Signal: A Novel. Instead of taking on that novel, I started with his short stories and fell in love with them.

"At the Jim Bridger" is Carlson's newest book of stories and I had extremely high hopes for it. However the up and down quality of the stories didn't grab me like the other books have.

One of the greatest reviews I've ever read regarding Ron Carlson's short stories is as follows "Trying to sum up a Ron Carlson story is like trying to hold sparkling spring water in your bare hands - no matter how you cup your fingers, some of the magical stuff leaks out." - The Seattle Times.

This collection has 9 stories and 2 very short interludes, some of my favorites were -

At the Jim Bridger

The Potato Gun

The Ordinary Son

At the El Sol

At Copper View

If you've never read Ron Carlson and you want to check out his short stories, please do yourself a favor and start with any of his other books. Of his four novels, I've read "The Signal" and enjoyed it immensely and I hope to read his award winning Five Skies soon.

Enjoy~
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