A suggestion from one paragrapher about a work from another former paragrapher. Patrick Ryan’s writing style is subtle and addicting. The characters are all flawed in the best ways. The picture he paints of Cape Canaveral is authentic, while also feeling universal if that is even possible. There’s something fascinating about American suburbs that I am always a sucker for and Ryan uncovers characters that defied my expectations. Favorites in this collection are “The Dream Life of Astronauts,” “The Way She Handles,” and “Miss America.”
The ending of “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Was Buried” gets me every time. It’s so emotional and real to me. There is something magical about her writing that’s really hard to explain or put my finger on. It flows, and it is so natural, subconscious, difficult in the best way, and hard to dissect. I like to pick up this edition and even just flip to a random story in the middle and read it. Most of the stories are short and bite sized, but address really large themes. ‘m always amazed at how quickly I am drawn into her stories. Usually within a sentence or two, sometimes even earlier.
Not sure how I stumbled across this gem. It’s a darker take on the gay coming of age novel set in 1978 Minnesota. After reading the works of Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli (both of which are must-reads within queer YA), I was looking for other novels within the gene. The story delves into the character’s internal struggles with his sexuality, but explores deeper struggles with his father and the tragic death of his mother two years earlier. The novel stayed with me for a while after finishing, largely because of the intensity of the father-son relationship, and the endurance of the protagonist. All of the secondary characters bring so much to the story, including the women his father dates and an eccentric neighbor, that really bring the world to life.
This book has been on my list to read for a while. It feels like I keep running into it, recently in Myla Goldberg’s workshop, and it’s also coming out this year as a feature film, so I felt like it was finally time to dive in. The language hits you in the gut. Physical, visceral, and heartbreaking, the narrative engulfs you in the story of this family from the youngest son’s POV. It’s about the little moments in life, how they define us, and even how they can suddenly become the big moments. You can feel the ending from the opening pages, the weight of it all, and when it hits it is satisfying, while still heartbreaking. It’s the type of book that makes you want to pick up your laptop and start writing.