Return to Oakpine
written by Ron Carlson
published by Viking (Penguin)
About the book – from Goodreads: In this finely wrought portrait of western American life, Ron Carlson takes us to the small town of Oakpine, Wyoming, and into the lives of four men trying to make peace with who they are in the world.
In high school, these men were in a band. One of them, Jimmy, left Oakpine for New York City after the tragic death of his brother. A successful novelist, he has returned thirty years later, in 1999—because he is dying.
With Carlson’s characteristic grace, we learn what has become of these friends and the different directions of their lives. Craig and Frank never left; Mason, a top lawyer in Denver, is back in town to fix up and sell his parents’ house. Now that they are reunited, getting the band back together might be the most important thing they can do.
Return to Oakpine is a generous, tender look at friendship, family, and the roads not taken, by a writer at the peak of his craft.
“Carlson’s new novel, with its themes of male friendship and second chances, hoes much the same furrow as his lovely previous books Five Skies and The Signal . . . Carlson’s crafted an emotive yet pellucid prose style that conveys the profound spiritual satisfactions of homecoming.” —The Wall Street Journal
“As stirring and memorable and utterly rejuvenating a novel as you’ll read…Carlson infuses these pages with such conviction, such perfectly orchestrated pathos…the book is as lean and structured as a sonnet, and it has a split-focus climax as sharp as an ax.” —The Washington Post
“Carlson excels in small-town Western Americana, in both embracing and interrogating nostalgia in quiet, controlled prose . . . a humane portrait of the lives we lead and leave behind, peeling back nostalgia’s gold veneer with grace, empathy, and a pragmatic sense of optimism.” —Kansas City Star
About the author: Ron Carlson is the author of five story collections and four novels, most recently The Signal. His fiction has appeared in Harper’s, The New Yorker, Playboy, GQ, Best American Short Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. He is the director of the writing program at the University of California at Irvine and lives in Huntington Beach, CA.