A single moment can forever change a man.

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THERE ARE GREAT STORYTELLERS and literary storytellers across this land. Jim Ainsworth is both. In Rails to a River, as in his other novels, Jim is a sculptor who carves the right words from our language and strings them together with the beauty of a poet and the sudden impact of a pistol shot.

Just read a brief passage, and you will understand immediately what I am talking about:

“But not even Father Bob can explain why Tee was spared, why it seems as if he has been plucked by some malevolent force from a life he understood and loved and set down into a suit and tie existence in, a world college professors called a corporate culture. The old priest could not explain why two events, sixty-seven days apart, five hundred miles apart, shattered Tee’s hopes, rudely maneuvered his life down a road he did not with to travel toward a place he does not want to be.”

Jim Ainsworth
Jim Ainsworth

Jim Ainsworth understands the storms that threaten to destroy men like Tee Jessup, that leave Tee adrift in a world that views him as a man who doesn’t belong.

A single moment of time has changed his life forever.

He probably should not have survived the accident at a remote railroad crossing.

He probably should not have awakened from the coma.

It might have been better if he hadn’t.

All that he loved has been stolen from him

He had always been at home in the wide-open spaces of a West Texas ranch.

His home is gone.

He drives away from the ranch.

He heads to the city.

He heads to the great unknown.

He is a man most miserable, a stranger in a strange place.

He works hard.

His heart’s not in it.

He fails.

His wife abandons him.

She takes his son.

He assumes it’s because he has become a failure.

Her reasons are far more sinister.

But what are they?

And why has his life become such a spiral downward?

Tee faces a journey he does not want to take and searches for those stolen moments of his life that he may never find.

It is a journey that the reader takes right along step-by-step with Tee Jessup as he travels a long, winding, and unfamiliar road.

When Tee is lost, we are lost.

When Tee hurts, we feel his pain.

Tee Jessup is no longer a stranger.

He’s a friend.

He’s family.

Jim Ainsworth has the rare ability to make sure of it.

Jim writes about the West, but Rails to a River is not a Western.

Tee is entangled with the mysteries that surround his life, but Rails to a River is not a mystery.

Tee searches for the love he has lost – the love of the woman and his love for the land – but Rails to the River is not a romance.

It’s life.

It’s life as only one man has lived it, life as only Jim Ainsworth can write it.

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  • Caleb Pirtle

    If you want to read great, literary writing with a story that has a lot of heart, all you have to do is find another Jim Ainsworth book. He’s one of the best.

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