Nothing Like an Ocean

Nothing Like an Ocean

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Jim Tomlinsona€™s previous book of short stories, Things Kept, Things Left Behind, won the prestigious Iowa Short Fiction Award and received enthusiastic reviews. The New York Times compared the strong sense of place in Tomlinsona€™s writing to that found in the works of Flannery Oa€™Connor and Alice Munro. The stories in his new collection, Nothing Like An Ocean, also reflect Tomlinsona€™s awareness of place, revisiting the fictional town of Spivey, a community in rural Appalachia where the characters confront difficult circumstances and, with quiet dignity, try to do what is right. In the title story, Tomlinson explores themes of forgiveness and acceptance in the lives of two characters, Alton Wood, a high school math teacher isolated by grief, and his sister Fran, who is emotionally paralyzed by her part in a tragic death. The two take halting steps back into the world after Alton receives an anonymous invitation to a church singles dance. These themes also underlie a€œAngel, His Rabbit, and Kyle McKell, a€ which tells of Dempsiea€™s evening with two mena€”her volatile boyfriend and the recently returned Iraq War amputee whose secret she has been keeping. Loss and the inevitability of change recur in Tomlinsona€™s stories. In a€œOverburden, a€ Ben, a man simultaneously contemplating AARP membership and impending fatherhood, travels with his wife, Sarah, back to eastern Kentucky to visit the oak tree that was essential to their courtship, only to find the site as barren and featureless as the moon, a casualty of mountaintop removal mining. a€œSo Exotica€ draws us into the worn environs of Ritaa€™s Huddle In CafAc, where the owner becomes the confidant of Quilla, a mousy bank teller who blossoms as the muse of an eccentric artist from Belarus. The eleven stories in Nothing Like An Ocean evoke a strong sense of small-town Kentucky life, finding humor in the residentsa€™ foibles while never diminishing their inner lives. Tomlinsona€™s masterful fiction captures light and dark moments, moments that are foreign yet deeply familiar, as his characters seek redemption and sometimes find unexpected grace..Never once did I feel like Iwas freeloading off Raymond Embrya#39;s table, although to hear him tell, youa#39;d think that Iwas doing nothing to pull myweight, that I was snatching food right out of his own ... Luckily, before sending me off, Daddy cautioned me on how Embrys are. ... a€œManual says four, but she runs better set at six.

Title:Nothing Like an Ocean
Author:Jim Tomlinson
Publisher:University Press of Kentucky - 2009-03-06


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