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A Kind of Flying

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  502 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Ron Carlson's stories, sometimes wicked or bittersweet, often zany, are rich with a hard-earned hopefulness frequently absent in contemporary fiction. In this generous gathering from collections no longer available, longtime fans and new readers alike can savor the development of a master of idiosyncrasy.

Properly celebrated for his range, Carlson offers us a rural sheriff
Paperback, 464 pages
Published October 17th 2003 by W. W. Norton Company (first published October 2003)
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4.22  · 
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 ·  502 ratings  ·  53 reviews

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Apr 07, 2012 rated it liked it
I felt ambivalent about these stories the whole time I was reading them. I think they're definitely for some people, just not for me. I didn't find the ones in the beginning interesting at all, but they were short enough for me to continue, which I guess was a good thing, as I then found some (mostly in the the middle) that sparkled.

I liked the more serious stories over the humorous ones (which says something about me, I know) and of those more serious, the longer over the shorter. The former s
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Hard to say enough good things about this one. One of the very best collections of short stories I've ever read. I've enjoyed Carlson in the past (his novel Five Skies - how do you underline words in Good Reads??), but these are the first stories of his I've read. They run the gamut of subjects and characterizations - gritty; realistic; weirdly amusing; confusing (!); heart-wrenching. As Carlson says, "...a short story is not a single thing done a single way." An excellent collection for anyone ...more
Mar 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A Kind of Flying is an omnibus that features most of the stories previously published in the collections, The News of the World, Plan B for the Middle Class, and The Hotel Eden. There are two types of stories in this collection: Carlson’s brand of contemporary realism, and Carlson’s brand of the fantastic.
If we can define magical realism by the blending of a specific culture’s folklore and contemporary fiction, then many of Carlson’s stories in the latter category fit into the magical realism
Heidi Willis
Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mfa
I could not give this book enough stars. It has become one of my favorites, which is saying something since I'm not a huge fan of short story collections.

The writing in this is brilliant, but what makes this book sing is the wide range of stories, the heart in each of them, the risk and uniqueness of some of them. Carlson took some huge risks in some of these stories - risks in format and structure and point of view and topic. Risks that, in my opinion, pay off big. Although the book is fairly
Dec 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I'm a bit stingy with my stars, Carlson deserves all 5 here.

I found this collection of short stories intriguing and moving. Carlson is able to bridge the gap between literature and art. I didn't so much read these stories as experience them. Gritty at times and definitely a strong PG-13, the characters brought to surface many experiences from my own life. The fact that they are mostly set in my hometown of Salt Lake City is a bonus. Highly recommended.
Greg Fox
Jun 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Carlson is the best short story writer alive. I read these over and over.
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Carlson's stories are such a breath of fresh air for me. I do a lot of reading and research on absurdist authors, Beckett, Kafka, Camus, etc. While I love them, I find myself getting worn down by the absurdity in them; the borderline postmodern tactics. Carlson is a master of language, his work is always well crafted and great for the aspiring author to study. He manages to be a traditional story-teller with a certain contemporary flair that keeps me interested, thinking, and at ease. The title ...more
Tali Treece
Jul 07, 2018 rated it liked it
In this collection of short stories, Carlson shows that you can write wonderful stories about happy people. In most of the stories, there is some sort of problem, but it is rarely dark or drastic. In “The H Street Sledding Record,” there really is no trouble at all: a nice family spends a pleasant evening sledding together. The story is driven by strong, positive desire, and it is enough to push it through to the end.
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
A really fun collection of short stories. I don’t even like short stories, though I admire the craft. But these are readable and intriguing. I keep it by my bedise for re-reading. I also don’t even usually reread things!
Rachel King
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of my favorite short story collections. I enjoy the realistic stories more than the fantastical stories, but they're all well-written.
George Ilsley
Some of these I liked and others I simply could not get into. Eventually I just gave up.
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
an awesome book, full of wonderfully weird short stories, will definitely keep this copy for my book collection, loved the style
David Brown
Feb 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Ron Carlson is a man who understands the male complex extremely well. Our way of thought, the way we look at things, and the way we talk. Carlson is an expert. While reading his “A Kind of flying” I discovered we share a love for the awkward, as some of his stories revolve around crazy situations that cannot fail to force a laugh out of you. Mixed in with the crazy, Carlson presents hart warming and reflexive situations that one could relate to. All while being able to keep his everyman attitude ...more
Shae Crosby
Dec 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
ection of short stories A Kind of Flying is filled with quirky characters, bizarre stories, and heart wrenching moments. Occasionally his stories border on the bizarre; for instance, his short story “Bigfoot Stole my Wife”, which is narrated by a man who’s wife recently ran off with Bigfoot, as the title suggests. These creative storylines make the book extremely entertaining. My particular favorite of Ron Carlson’s short story collection is entitled, “What we wanted to do” which explores the po ...more
Oct 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I didn't get to read all of the stories in this collection because I have to return it to the library and I'm on a tight reading schedule, but what I read fulfilled the hope I'd developed from reading Carlson stories here and there in journals -- these are wonderful stories. Strong points: (1) Carlson's ability to write shorter short stories, (2) the ability to write stories about nice people in somewhat happy situations without coming off as ridiculous or sentimental in the least. ("The H Stree ...more
Jim Aker
Dec 07, 2008 rated it did not like it
I found that most of the stories in this anthology of short stories from this author had an unfinished character to them. The quality of the writing was fine, but the plots and endings left much to be desired. I found "The H Street Sledding Record" mildly entertaining and the Big Foot stories intriguing, but the idea was undeveloped. Overall I found these stories disappointing from such an acclaimed author. Most unfortunate.

To be fair, I have just re-read my review and it seems a little harsh.
Nov 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Ron Carlson came to BYU and gave a lecture that I went to. I had read a few of his short stories which are rather wonderful, 'What We Wanted to Do' is a delight. I laughed for a good while before trying to explain my feelings on the story to other classmates. 'Zanduce on Second' is the type of story I wish I had written, the premise is funny but the tone of the story is serious. I felt like I related to this story more than I actually can in real life; I've never been with a prostitute, nor have ...more
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It has it's moments. Some of the stories are excellent, many are just ok or good. the writing is almost always effortless and flows well. There is a distinct, modern 80's and 90's feel to them- clear, present and ever so slightly cynical or knowingly-jaded. Closing the collection and last pages of the book with a not-very-empathic or thoughtful depiction of sexual assault leaves a bad after-taste.
Richard Jespers
Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-fiction
A collection of stories from three original collections—a “best of the best.” All of them quite good—plain language but sophisticated, about “everyday” situations, yet every one of them is limned in a unique way. Particularly loved story “Keith,” which later became a film. Keith speaks with a great idiolect that establishes his character immediately. It's worth the price of the book just to read that story!
Pam Stackhouse
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I learned of this book when "The H Street Sledding Record" was read on the Christmas episode of Selected Shorts. I loved this book so much. Ron Carlson shows that he knows the life of the everyday, ordinary guy, but that he also knows how to see the very most important and beautiful parts of an everyday, ordinary life.
Dec 21, 2007 rated it it was ok
The stories in this book were either way too short to allow any real attachment (5 pages??) or were of normal length but seemed to drag on and on way too long. The ideas behind the stories seemed so forced, like the author collected a bunch of writing exercizes together in a book. Entertaining enough to finish but I probably won't read any more by Carlson.
Jan Dominik
Jun 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Lovely prose and very human characters. Even in the more silly stories - there's a great one about a sort of press conference about why a medieval cauldron failed to spill hot oil on an invading horde or warriors - you get a sense that you could know these people.

What I found rewarding was that their accessibility drove my curiosity, not vice versa.
Nov 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This was a fantastic collection of short stories that I would recommend to anyone. Particularly, if you have a connection to the Salt Lake Valley, several of these stories will be very relatable to you. There are stories in this collection that are now in my favorite short stories of all time. Great author--extremely readable. I have become a huge Ron Carlson fan!
Sep 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Randy, Chris
Ron Carlson is the kind of author who writes stories that stay with you for a long time. His details and characters are so distinct that they leave strong impressions, whether you like the characters or not. This is my favorite of the three of his books that I've read and I definitely recommend it.
Eli Brooke
Jan 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: my dad... i bought it for him for his 65th birthday
I rarely read realistic novels by contemporary white American male authors about the everyday lives of contemporary white American men. It is a prejudice I didn't realize I had until I read these stories by Ron Carlson, who helped me make a place in my heart for the potential of white American men to be both lovable and interesting. He's a damn good writer.
Nov 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
Carlson's forte is the monologue from an oddball vantage point, like that of a man cuckolded by Bigfoot. More often than not, Carlson's stories have a happy ending with no one dead, like the very fine "The H Street Sledding Record." Breaking the POV pattern, "Keith" is a sweet story of high school infatuation.
Nov 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-fiction
I first heard of Ron Carlson when I read "The Gold Lunch" in Harpers, which is one of the funniest things I've ever read. This collection is a bit like that piece - consistently humorous, yet not without its touching moments.
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
I have really enjoyed the short stories in this book. Rather than reading straight through, I have hopped around a bit, even reading some aloud with my husband. The stories range from endearing to ridiculous, but they are all engaging and thoughtful.
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I came to the writing of Ron Carlson after listening to "The H Street Sledding Record" and knowing I had to have more. I wasn't disappointed. His range and imagination are broad and his character creation is spot-on.
AJ (Andrea) Nolan
Nov 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
He writes happy stories and happy endings like no one else I know, and writes about marriages where people love one another, and where the conflicts are the more complicated things that happen in a life, that especially happen in a life when you are bound by love to someone else.
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Ron Carlson is an American novelist and writer of short stories.

Carlson was born in Logan, Utah, but grew up in Salt Lake City. He earned a masters degree in English from the University of Utah. He then taught at The Hotchkiss School in Connecticut where he started his first novel.

He became a professor of English at Arizona State University in 1985, teaching creative writing to undergraduates and
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