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Review and Giveaway of Return to Oakpine by Ron Carlson

July 16, 2013

Return to OakpineIn Ron Carlson’s fifth novel, he takes us to the small town of Oakpine, Wyoming, where four men reunite after thirty years. They have built and lost careers, married and divorced, and succeeded and failed. On the surface, Oakpine looks the same to them. It even smells the same to character Mason Kirby who has returned to sell his childhood home. “This place wants to get to me…how can it smell the same?”

The old rub, a la Thomas Wolfe, is that “You can’t go home again.” In Return to Oakpine that is most certainly the case. The town may look the same to Mason, Jimmy, Craig, and Frank, but these men have definitely changed. They are no longer the invincible band mates from 1969 who have their whole lives in front of them. They’ve reached the point when it’s time to take a measure of all they’ve done and not done. This makes their reunion both bitter and sweet. Carlson weaves threads of rediscovered friendships, estranged families, and terminal illness atop a backdrop of the American West that delivers a memorable and heartfelt read.

Author William Kittredge says of it, “Citizens in neighborhoods across America, despite occasional atrocities and outbursts of greed, learn to specialize in the labor of caring for one another. In eloquent detail, Ron Carlson shows us these processes working out. Return to Oakpine is simultaneously heartbreaking and reassuring, and infused with a continual, thoroughgoing beauty.”

Ron CarlsonRon Carlson is the author of five story collections and five novels, including 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.

If you’d like a chance to win a copy of Return to Oakpine, just email your name and mailing address to Unfortunately, you must reside in the U.S.

Put Giveaway in the e-mail subject line.  One entry per person, please.  Your chance of winning increases if you leave a comment or like the post. I’ll accept entries until midnight on July 19, 2013—at which time I’ll draw the winning name. Your email address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending giveaway winners copies of the book.

Congrats to winners Frank Larson and Cindy Martin!
Viking, 2013

  1. Well, I must get this book immediately! I lived in Wyoming for eight years. Hafta read this!

  2. If Diane Prokop says so, her reviewed books must be quality reads. But give me some examples of page turner adrenaline moments. Is there a fist fight? A pillow fight? A romance? A bromance? (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) Speaking of Bros, why are there only 3 on the cover of a book about 4 dudes? And, considering that this novel is based in Wyoming, I sure as hell hope that readers get to join the characters on a Hoback River fly fishing trip, or elk hunt in the Grand Tetons. Great work Diane!

  3. While this kind of theme is not uncommon in books by women, it’s rare, I think, from a man. Intriguing. I wonder how popular this will be with men? I’ll keep an eye out for it at the store.

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