At the Jim Bridger Stories

Ron Carlson




Trade Paperback

216 Pages



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Welcome to the short stories of Ron Carlson, where strange beach towels turn up in your suburban room; where the ordinary son of a family of geniuses spins a rollicking tale of happiness and disappointment; and where a desperate ex-con with a broken heart must hide out in a desert hotel, only to make a startling discovery. Epic in scope and confessional in tone, At the Jim Bridger enfolds the reader in a world of love and mystery.


Praise for At the Jim Bridger

"Beautifully written, with small details . . . that easily conjure up a time and place."—The Washington Post Book World

"Ron Carlson knows men and women, fire and snow, loss and discovery. His stories are not glimpses, but whole landscapes of real life, well lit."—Amy Bloom, author of A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You

"The subtle excellence of these stories makes it easy to lose oneself in them and, more impressively, to recall them later with such clarity and emotion that they seem like one's own memories."—The Philadelphia Inquirer

"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. At the Jim Bridger shows us a real master at work."—The Seattle Times

"Carlson [has] written an accomplished, open-hearted book, full of good, grown-up humor and fierce intelligence. Writer's writer or reader's writer, Carlson and the stories of At the Jim Bridger deserve all the attention they can get."—The Boston Globe

"The sweet but never saccharine quality of Carlson's prose fits perfectly with the quest for wholeness attempted by his characters. Not all of them succeed. But all the stories do."—Alan Cheuse, San Francisco Chronicle

"Carlson goes beyond conventions to create characters who in their strangeness become suddenly rich with life, their situations lying just beyond the edges of commonplace existence . . . This collection of stories about people in the uncertain moral terrain of the American West consistently surprises and delights."—Los Angeles Times

"In At the Jim Bridger . . . Carlson does not throw one air ball. In these nine short stories and two elegant little sketches he concentrates on people—relentlessly American and almost all men—at internal crossroads."—The Hartford Courant

"Carlson is one of those rare writers who has remained true to the literary form he seems to love best and at which he excels: the much maligned short story . . . Readers of At the Jim Bridger will be glad that he has."—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"Ron Carlson's stories burst from the pages, filled with humor and pathos . . . Few writers can match Carlson when it comes to creating stories rich in character and plot, stories that actually tell a story . . . The nine stories in this volume are each gems."—The Charlotte Observer

"Filled with Carlson's trademark warmth and humor."—The Salt Lake Tribune

"All these stories are immediately engaging. They create places and people that are recognizable . . . Yet there is also something magical and marvelous about them: a great, sweeping feel that is usually found in novels . . . a sense of history, of things gone before . . . an understanding, if not a meaning, of what it is to be human."—Creative Loafing

"Ron Carlson—long one of our finest storytellers—is in peak form in At the Jim Bridger. If you wish to understand how it is we live at the beginning of the twenty-first century, you must read Ron Carlson."—Robert Olen Butler, author of Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

"These are short stories written by a master of the form and you will be glad to have read them."—The Bloomsbury Review

"Carlson can be funny, quirky, domestic. He continually surprises, generating a unique world that, while marred by loss and inadequacy, is redeemed by moments of tenderness and grace."—Book magazine

"In these stories, we see a master at work. The language, the humor, the compassion—all blending splendidly together to reveal humanity at our finest. I love this book."—Chris Offutt, author of Out of the Woods

"These stories are masterpieces in miniature—lives captured at crossroads that might be invisible to less astute hearts and pens. To me this is as good as it gets: bold writing about things very tender. I loved this collection."—Elinor Lipman, author of The Inn at Lake Divine

"Considered one of America's great short story writers, Carlson is at it again. In At the Jim Bridger you'll feast your eyes on some of the funniest and saddest stories ever written."—Phoenix Monthly

"Ron Carlson's poignant, funny, bittersweet stories provide a stunningly differentiated field report of life in the West . . . And his distressed and out-of-kilter characters are just as various: grifters, mathematicians, wildlife managers, television news reporters, the lost souls of wealth and progress. He listens and sees and writes like no other. Read him and be beguiled."—Ron Hansen, author of Mariette in Ecstasy

"Like all sublime fiction, the stories in Ron Carlson's At the Jim Bridger never make sense. Instead, they make love, war, peace, trouble, and truth. Read this book."—David Schickler, author of Kissing in Manhattan

"[A] taut, focused collection . . . sharing graceful, unadorned prose and elegant metaphors . . . With a precision and consistency rarely achieved in similar collections, this volume should earn Carlson continued, well-deserved recognition."—Publishers Weekly

"This collection of short stories could be used as a how-to manual for budding writers. Each of the eleven pieces is crated to perfection, without a misplaced word or thought."—Booklist

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Ron Carlson is the author of two novels and four story collections, including The Hotel Eden. His fiction has appeared in Esquire, The New Yorker, Harper’s, and Tin House, among others. He lives with his family in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is currently at work on a novel.
Read the full excerpt


  • Ron Carlson

  • Ron Carlson is the author of two novels and four story collections, including the New York Times Notable The Hotel Eden. His fiction has appeared in Esquire, The New Yorker, Harper's, and Tin House, among others. He lives with his family in Scottsdale, Arizona.