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Plan B for the Middle Class: Stories Hardcover – August 1, 1992


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 223 pages
  • Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc; 1st edition (August 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393033708
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393033700
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,008,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Carlson's winning new collection of short fiction issues from a sensibility set ever so slightly--and variously--askew. His range swings from a surreal monologue by a typical-sounding mother who apparently lives with her children on an aircraft carrier ("On the U.S.S. Fortitude ") to the emotionally disarming lead story "Hartwell," a powerful depiction of the protagonist's self-humiliation as he seeks an end to his loneliness. The author's capacity for such variety is itself disarming; these 11 stories include as well the marginally amusing trifle "Fort Bragg: How Subliminal Advertising Changed My Life," and a more conventional, taut tale of a father attempting to understand his unhappy son's death in Alaska ("Blazo"). It is as if Carlson ( The News of the World ) had expressly set himself a different goal for each tale--long, short, goofy or deadly serious. His expansive talent yields success in all, the best being the first and the last--the title story, about a man reviewing how the past has gotten him to his present, which leads him to reassess where to go from there.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

What a wonderful collection of short stories! These pieces feature men and women in midlife, meeting challenges and adapting to sometimes unforeseen circumstances. Whether the protagonist is Zoo Lewis reminiscing about his teenage sexual awakening while struggling to absorb the loss of his job, or Tom Burns attempting to understand his son's death by traveling to the son's burned-down cabin in Alaska, the experiences ring true. "Hartwell," whose protagonist is an absent-minded professor enamored of a young female student, is a bittersweet tale of manipulation and unrequited love. On a more whimsical note, "Sunny Billy Day" is the arresting tale of a baseball player with the ability to get umpires to retract their calls against him. The writing is clever, the ideas inventive, and the characters empathetic. Carlson's stories have appeared in GQ , The New Yorker , and Playboy , among others. Recommended for most collections.
- Kimberly G. Allen, National Assn. of Home Builders Lib., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lawrence R. Smith on January 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
A relative 1st gave this book to me when it was released. I was in college then and not accustomed to quality writing. I was so moved by the soulful snapshots within each story that I passed the book around my circle of friends. Years later, I gave the book to my wife, hoping to illustrate the humility that I hoped we would strive for. Some years later, I read the book myself, again, and no less moved than the 1st time. Bottom line: this book will be a treasured, and revisited, addition to your library. It brings you back to reality.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Donald and Dorothy Smith on June 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
IT IS COLD AND DAMP HERE ON OUR LITTLE HILL TOP IN CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA. THE FIRE IS UP AND A STATE OF ATARAXIA HAS SETTLED ON OUR SMALL HOME THIS WEEKEND. DOTTIE AND OUR DAUGHTERS ARE IN VIRGINIA AND I AM IN THE LIBRARY WITH ALL MY READING AIDS [FAILING EYESIGHT], MY LUNCH [A STEPDOOR SANDWICH] AND A SPOT OF EARL GRAY. MY BOOK IS CALLED "PLAN B FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS", STORIES BY MY FRIEND RON CARLSON. "RON SEES DIRECTLY INTO OUR YEARNINGS, AND SHOW US HOW TO BEGIN LOVING OURSELVES", SAYS FRIEND WILLIAM KITTREDGE. THE COVER OF THIS BOOK DOES NOT DO IT JUSTICE. IT LOOKS LIKE A SOCIAL STUDIES TEXTBOOK. BUT IT IS REALLY A BEAUTIFUL BOOK OF MEN LEARNING HOW TO BE MEN. HOW TO KNOW WHEN AND HOW TO FALL BACK TO PLAN B ONLY AS PROXIMITY TO DISASTER. EACH STORY REMINDS ME OF A TIME I MY OWN LIFE. OH RON, WHERE WERE YOU 50 YEARS AGO? FAILING WITH PLAN A, TO THE SCARY SENSE OF HAVING TO GO TO PLAN B, WITHOUT A MAP. BE YOU YOUNG, MIDDLE AGE OR MY AGE, BE YOU MALE, FEMALE, OR UNSURE, THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL READ.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By BJ on August 1, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ron Carlson's second volume of short stories, much like his other stories are superbly crafted and suck you in, taking you places you never expected to go or be back at.

Part 1 consists of three stories - Hartwell, DeRay & Blazo, of those, Hartwell was my favorite and was a peferct opener

Part 2 is five stories, two of which I really enjoyed -

On the U.S.S. Fortitude
Fort Bragg (5 star short story gold)

Part 3 gives you the last three stories in the collection and has my two favorites in the book -

The Golf Center at Ten Acres
Plan B for the Middle Class (5 star short story gold) funny, heart warming, heart breaking story about life

The amazing thing about Ron Carlson's short stories is that he can do so much in so few pages, highly, highly recommended collection!

Enjoy~
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