The Signal: A Novel (Paperback)
June 2009 Indie Next List
“A fishing and back-packing trip into the mountains had become a ritual for Mack and his one-time wife, Vonnie -- however, their reunion not only engenders old feelings and personal troubles, but the probability of danger. This glorious novel encompasses the beauty of the outdoors while also portraying the dark side of human behavior.”
— Kathleen Dixon, Islandtime Books & More, Washington Island, WI
"The Signal accelerates like an avalanche...If men can't be brought back to fiction by books as fine as this one, it's their own damn fault."
-The Washington Post
Ron Carlson, author of the critically acclaimed Five Skies, is an award-winning writer beloved by booksellers, reviewers, and readers alike. His most thrilling book to date, The Signal follows the story of Mack and Vonnie, a married couple who, after ten years together, are taking their last hike in the mountains of Wyoming to say goodbye to their relationship and to each other. As the troubled and tragic elements of their past gradually come to light over the course of their journey, Mack keeps a secret: he is tracking a signal, sent via a beacon that has fallen from the sky, that will lead them both into a wood far darker than they have ever imagined.
About the Author
Ron Carlson is the award-winning author of four story collections and four novels, most recently Five Skies. His fiction has appeared in Harper’s, The New Yorker, Playboy, and GQ, and has been featured on NPR’s This American Life and Selected Shorts as well as in Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories. His novella, “Beanball,” was recently selected for Best American Mystery Stories. He is the director of the UC Irvine writing program and lives in Huntington Beach, California.
"The Signal takes us into terrain that's stunning and terrible. In doing so, it becomes both an elegy to a broken marriage and a heart- stopping, suspenseful thriller. It's a difficult journey, but relax: with Ron Carlson, you really are in expert hands."
-New York Times Book Review
"Carlson never drops an extra word or a false phrase, even as "The Signal" accelerates like an avalanche, suspicion rolling into fear and then roaring down with a conclusion that shakes the ground. If men can't be brought back to fiction by books as fine as this one, it's their own damn fault."
"Ron Carlson's new novel is a love story and a wilderness adventure that mounts to a climax of shocking, and satisfying, violence...Carlson paces his tale with craft and care, never hurrying. "The Signal" is about broken innocence and how, for the individual at least, balance might be found again. Carlson's a romantic --- even when he's writing about failings, folly and violence. This novel...has a lingering elegance and power. Lives go wrong, "The Signal" says, but they can be repaired too, if we find our centers and attend to what's around us."
-Los Angeles Times
"Read Ron Carlson's latest THE SIGNAL and you'll be convinced that the answer to your worries resides in the woods, in getting back to the basics... It's a sweet, tidy little book about a broken rancher. And yet it won't just help you pass the time, it will help you out."
"Long revered as a master of the short story, Carlson has a talent for describing landscape (both internal and external), and that translates here intact. At fewer than 200 pages, its beach ready, too."