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Things Kept, Things Left Behind

4.35  ·  Rating Details ·  93 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 168 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by University Of Iowa Press
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Jul 19, 2007 Mary rated it it was amazing
I loved so much about Jim Tomlinson's short story collection, Things Kept, Things Left Behind. It was one of those reads that I felt compelled to carefully portion out so as to not have it be over too quickly. I wanted to savor it. I hated for it to end.

The book has a beautiful, poignantly apt cover design with a number of excellent blurbs on the back, but one blurb in particular expressed what I found most to love about the collection. George Saunders wrote, "Jim Tomlinson uses the traditional
Jun 17, 2007 kim rated it really liked it
tomlinson is a breath of fresh air. stories that center on relationships, these characters leap off the page, announcing their truths, faults and most importantly, their dreams. wow, what a collection.
Nov 13, 2011 Jean rated it it was amazing
Tomlinson, takes what appears to be ordinary character who encounter seemingly ordinary experiences and turns them into a wonderful reading experience. My favorites are Things Kept and Things Left Behind. Things Kept is the story of one woman's wish and means of holding on to the things which her husband leaves behind when he dies, in light of, her children's wish to sell them.
Things left behind is the story of what is left behind in a motel room of married lovers and the final destination of th
Jun 26, 2007 Elaine rated it it was amazing
Haunting and riveting. This short story collection puts some of the other heftier volumes by famous literary authors to shame. Tomlinson brings the reader to the momentous peak of compelling decision seamlessly, quietly -- moments of such sparkling magnitude and drama, rendered so powerfully, with dark layers of emotional undertone, and without fanfare, on which life itself can be said to turn -- viz Toby Polk who finds himself back from Iraq and out to avenge his father. His father had been ren ...more
Carl R.
May 06, 2012 Carl R. rated it really liked it
Things Kept, Things Left Behind is a coming-out celebration for a terrific writer named Jim Tomlinson. The inability to finish reading short story collections is one of my shameful flaws. I write the things, but I struggle to read them. I buy Best American Short Stories nearly every year, read several, let the rest languish. But the why of that failing is a subject for another blog because Things Kept, Things Left Behind is an exception--a group of short stories that captivated me.
You can beg
Jun 20, 2007 Myfanwy rated it it was amazing
Each of the stories in this collection is handled with great care and finesse, creating a whole that leaves the reader feeling both satisfied and heartbroken.

Basically, these are not easy stories to read because of the sadness and deep hurt they depict, and yet after reading them you will feel hopeful, despite the tragic beauty of the world--best exemplified in the character LeAnn:

"Sometimes she thinks of herself as a howl. The wail of a coyote, maybe, or a lone banshee, a shriek dying away in
Adele Stratton
Sep 12, 2009 Adele Stratton rated it it was amazing
(Short stories.) The stories are all about folks in or from the small town of Spivey, Kentucky, whose lives have not gone the way they expected. Tomlinson is a wonderful writer, he reminds me somewhat of Kent Haruf. I suspect it’s something about the universal truths in the less-complicated masculine point of view. While it was coincidental that I read much of this during and immediately after what turned out to be my 92-year-old father’s surprisingly brief terminal illness and death, these shor ...more
Dec 24, 2010 Colleen rated it really liked it
This was a wonderful collection of short stories. Occasionally, I found the stories TOO short and was aching for more resolution of issues raised in the plots; that's the only reason I am unable to give the novel five stars. The author gets extra points for the thought-provoking title (also the title of one of the stories). The idea of "things kept" and "things left behind" touches all of the stories in the book in ways that will leave you thinking about the characters and plots for days.
Aug 24, 2009 Barbara rated it it was amazing
I read this collection in 24 hours. I couldn't stop turning the pages. These stories have just the right details to put the reader into the place and time. The characters are wonderfully developed in a few short pages. This is what great short story writers do and I think Jim Tomlinson is one of them.
Sheri Joseph
Sep 16, 2007 Sheri Joseph rated it it was amazing
This book is getting all those stars because I published one of the stories, "First Husband, First Wife," in Five Points. I can't wait to read the rest of the book, which I'm sure will be just as good. I'm also calling Jim someone I know even though I really know him only from email exchanges about the story.
Sandra Papas
Sep 01, 2013 Sandra Papas rated it liked it
Very well written series of short stories based on people from a small American town, dealing with ordinary yet often extraordinary day to day issues. I think if you are American, and more specifically from Kentucky, this novel would resonate much more strongly.
Rachel Noble
Oct 16, 2007 Rachel Noble rated it really liked it
A wonderful writer and a wonderful teacher. He read at the Carnegie Center last week and I loved every moment of it. Now that I've been introduced to his work I can't wait for his next new work. (Hi Jim!)
Jun 20, 2007 Pia rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: booksoffriends
Beautifully realized characters, interesting plots, lovingly crafted stories. Jim Tomlinson knows these people and these places like the back of his hand. He's a masterful and generous writer. I loved these stories and hated to say goodbye to the people in them at the end.
Jul 25, 2007 Pamela rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
richly rewarding stories about people in small-town Kentucky, featuring pitch-perfect dialogue and a powerful emotional range. A wonderful collection.
Mar 15, 2008 Crystal marked it as to-read
I don't usually pick up compilations or short stories, but this sounds pretty good.
Jun 20, 2007 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
These are wonderful, engaging stories.
Jan 14, 2008 Jim rated it it was amazing
Lovely work...I admired the talent, sensitivity and effort that went into making this a top-notch collection.
Roy Kesey
Jul 18, 2013 Roy Kesey rated it really liked it
Beautifully clean quiet stories, with dead-on dialogue.
Jun 04, 2007 Clifford rated it it was amazing
Iowa fiction prize winner--a couple of these stories will stick with me a long time.
Apr 11, 2012 Sharon rated it it was ok
I liked some of these but others not at all
Dec 06, 2010 Robin rated it really liked it
loved it! great insight to human nature
Shannon Kristopher
Shannon Kristopher rated it really liked it
Feb 02, 2017
Jeff rated it it was amazing
Jun 23, 2007
Ellen rated it it was amazing
Mar 03, 2008
Kay rated it it was amazing
Jun 23, 2007
Marrie rated it really liked it
Oct 04, 2007
Sheilan rated it it was ok
Aug 12, 2009
Jason Jordan
Jason Jordan rated it liked it
May 20, 2010
Patry rated it it was amazing
Jun 22, 2007
Charles rated it it was amazing
Jul 29, 2007
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Jim Tomlinson grew up in a small northern Illinois town and lived for many years in a small New England town. He lives now in rural Kentucky with his wife, fiber artist Gin Petty. His fiction and poetry have been published in The Pinch, Shenandoah, Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere.

Jim's debut short story collection, Things Kept, Things Left Behind, won the 2006 Iowa Short Fiction Award. His
More about Jim Tomlinson...

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