Individual Author Record
Name: Jim TomlinsonPen Name: None Genre: Fiction Born: 1941 in Sycamore, Illinois Sites:
Illinois ConnectionTomlinson was born and raised in Sycamore, Illinois. He attended the University of Illinois.
Biographical and Professional InformationJim Tomlinson is an award-winning short-story writer. He previously worked as a manufacturing and product design engineer.
Things Kept, Things Left Behind, University of Iowa Press, 2006Nothing Like an Ocean: Stories, University Press of Kentucky, 2009
Titles At Your Library
Things Kept, Things Left Behind (Iowa Short Fiction Award)
ISBN: 0877459916 University Of Iowa Press. 2006 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.
Nothing Like an Ocean: Stories (Kentucky Voices)
ISBN: 0813125405 University Press of Kentucky. 2009 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..