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Praise for . . .
Plan B for the Middle Class: Stories

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, Library Journal

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 . . . 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.
--Publishers Weekly

Ron sees directly into our yearnings, and shows us how to begin loving ourselves.
--William Kittredge, author of Hole in the Sky: A Memoir


Plan B for the Middle Class
W.W. Norton 1992
Penguin paperback 1993

More reviews & praise coming soon

updated: June 28, 2005  
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