A story should either make you laugh or cry. Ron Carlson's stories do both. I don't know how else to describe his stories other than comparison -- he's as poignant as Andre Dubus, as funny as Lee K. Abbott and John Dufresne, as insightful as Charles Baxter and Lynne Barrett, and has an eye for detail like William Trevor or Alice Munro. Though he's not a minimalist, Carlson doesn't waste a word to sentimentality or a scene to gratuitous fluff. His stories are chiseled out of granite. A great collection.