Nothing Like an Ocean: Stories

University Press of Kentucky
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Jim Tomlinson'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 Tomlinson's writing to that found in the works of Flannery O'Connor and Alice Munro. The stories in his new collection, Nothing Like An Ocean, also reflect Tomlinson'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 "Angel, His Rabbit, and Kyle McKell," which tells of Dempsie's evening with two men -- her volatile boyfriend and the recently returned Iraq War amputee whose secret she has been keeping. Loss and the inevitability of change recur in Tomlinson's stories. In "Overburden," 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. "So Exotic" draws us into the worn environs of Rita's Huddle In Café, 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 residents' foibles while never diminishing their inner lives. Tomlinson'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..
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About the author

Jim Tomlinson's first book, Things Kept, Things Left Behind, received the 2006 Iowa Short Fiction Award, and its title story appeared in New Stories from the South: The Year's Best, 2008. His work has been short-listed for inclusion in Best American Short Stories, 2007 and Best American Mystery Stories, 2007, and he has received grants from the Kentucky Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Additional Information

Publisher
University Press of Kentucky
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Published on
Dec 1, 2009
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Pages
176
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ISBN
9780813139210
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Short Stories (single author)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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An all-new Dresden Files story headlines this urban fantasy short story collection starring the Windy City’s favorite wizard.

The world of Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is rife with intrigue—and creatures of all supernatural stripes. And you’ll make their intimate acquaintance as Harry delves into the dark side of truth, justice, and the American way in this must-have short story collection.

From the Wild West to the bleachers at Wrigley Field, humans, zombies, incubi, and even fey royalty appear, ready to blur the line between friend and foe. In the never-before-published “Zoo Day,” Harry treads new ground as a dad, while fan-favorite characters Molly Carpenter, his onetime apprentice, White Council Warden Anastasia Luccio, and even Bigfoot stalk through the pages of more classic tales.

With twelve stories in all, Brief Cases offers both longtime fans and first-time readers tantalizing glimpses into Harry’s funny, gritty, and unforgettable realm, whetting their appetites for more to come from the wizard with a heart of gold.

The collection includes:

  •  “Curses,” from Naked City, edited by Ellen Datlow
  •  “AAAA Wizardry,” from the Dresden Files RPG
  •  “Even Hand,” from Dark and Stormy Knights, edited by P. N. Elrod
  •  “B is for Bigfoot,” from Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron, edited by Jonathan Strahan. Republished in Working for Bigfoot.
  •  “I was a Teenage Bigfoot,” from Blood Lite III: Aftertaste, edited by Kevin J. Anderson. Republished in Working for Bigfoot.
  •  “Bigfoot on Campus,” from Hex Appeal, edited by P. N. Elrod. Republished in Working for Bigfoot.
  •  “Bombshells,” from Dangerous Women, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
  •  “Jury Duty,” from Unbound, edited by Shawn Speakman
  •  “Cold Case,” from Shadowed Souls, edited by Jim Butcher and Kerrie Hughes
  •  “Day One,” from Unfettered II, edited by Shawn Speakman
  •  “A Fistful of Warlocks,” from Straight Outta Tombstone, edited by David Boop
  •  “Zoo Day,” a brand-new novella, original to this collection
The stories in Things Kept, Things Left Behind explore the ambiguities of kept secrets, the tangles of abandoned pasts, and uneasy accommodations. Jim Tomlinson’s characters each face the desire to reclaim dreams left behind, along with something of the dreamer that was also lost. Starkly rendered, these spiraling characters inhabit a specific place and class---small-town Kentucky, working-class America---but the stories, told in all their humor and tragedy, are universal.In each story the characters face conflict, sometimes within themselves, sometimes with each other. Each carries a past and with it an urge to return and repair. In “First Husband, First Wife,” ex-spouses are repeatedly drawn together by a shared history they cannot seem to escape, and they are finally forced to choose between leaving the past or leaving each other. LeAnn and Cass are grown sisters who conspire to help their prideful mother in “Things Kept.” “Prologue” is a voyeuristic journey through the surprisingly different lives of two star-crossed friends, each with its successes and pitfalls, told through their letters over thirty-five years. In “Stainless,” Annie and Warren divide their possessions on the final night of their marriage. Their realtor has advised them to “declutter” the house they are leaving, but they discover that most of the clutter cannot be so easily removed. The choices are never simple, and for every thing kept, something must be abandoned. Tomlinson’s characters struggle but eventually find their way, often unknowingly, to points of departure, to places where things just might change.
The stories in Things Kept, Things Left Behind explore the ambiguities of kept secrets, the tangles of abandoned pasts, and uneasy accommodations. Jim Tomlinson’s characters each face the desire to reclaim dreams left behind, along with something of the dreamer that was also lost. Starkly rendered, these spiraling characters inhabit a specific place and class---small-town Kentucky, working-class America---but the stories, told in all their humor and tragedy, are universal.In each story the characters face conflict, sometimes within themselves, sometimes with each other. Each carries a past and with it an urge to return and repair. In “First Husband, First Wife,” ex-spouses are repeatedly drawn together by a shared history they cannot seem to escape, and they are finally forced to choose between leaving the past or leaving each other. LeAnn and Cass are grown sisters who conspire to help their prideful mother in “Things Kept.” “Prologue” is a voyeuristic journey through the surprisingly different lives of two star-crossed friends, each with its successes and pitfalls, told through their letters over thirty-five years. In “Stainless,” Annie and Warren divide their possessions on the final night of their marriage. Their realtor has advised them to “declutter” the house they are leaving, but they discover that most of the clutter cannot be so easily removed. The choices are never simple, and for every thing kept, something must be abandoned. Tomlinson’s characters struggle but eventually find their way, often unknowingly, to points of departure, to places where things just might change.
This study offers a distinctive new account of British economic life since the Second World War, focussing upon the ways in which successive governments, in seeking to manage the economy, have sought simultaneously to 'manage the people': to try and manage popular understanding of economic issues. In doing so, governments have sought not only to shape expectations for electoral purposes but to construct broader narratives about how 'the economy' should be understood. The starting point of this work is to ask why these goals have been focussed upon (and differentially over time), how they have been constructed to appeal to the population, and, insofar as this can be assessed, how far the population has accepted these narratives. The first half of the book analyses the development of the major narratives from the 1940s onwards, addressing the notion of 'austerity' and its particular meaning in the 1940s; the rise of a narrative of 'economic decline from the late 1950s, and the subsequent attempts to 'modernize' the economy; the attempts to 'roll back the state' from the 1970s; the impact of ideas of 'globalization' in the 1900s; and, finally, the way the crisis of 2008/9 onwards was constructed as a problem of 'debts and deficits'. The second part of the book focuses on four key issues in attempts to 'manage the people': productivity, the balance of payments, inflation, and unemployment. It shows how, in each case, governments sought to get the populace to understand these issues in a particular light, and shaped strategies to that end.
Most historical accounts of economic policy set out to describe the way in which governments have attempted to solve their economic problems and to achieve their economic objectives. Jim Tomlinson, however, focuses on the problems themselves, arguing that the way in which areas of economic policy become ‘problems’ for policy makers is always problematic itself, that it is never obvious and never happens ‘naturally’.

This approach is quite distinct from the Marxist, the Keynesian or the neo-classical accounts of economic policy, the schools of thought which are described and criticized in the introduction. Subsequent chapters use the issues of unemployment, the gold standard and problems of trade and Empire to demonstrate that these competing accounts all obscure the true complexities of the process. Because they adhere to simple assumptions about the role of economic theory or of ‘vested interests’ previous histories have been unable adequately to explain the dramatic change after the First World War in attitudes to unemployment, for instance, or the decision to return to gold in 1925. Jim Tomlinson surveys the institutional circumstances, the conflicting political pressures and the theories offered at the time in an attempt to discover the conditions which characterized the questions as economic problems and contributed to the choice of ‘solutions’.

The result is a sophisticated and intellectually compelling account of matters which have remained at the forefront of political debate since its first publication in 1981.

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