I love Ryan MacDonald’s stories for their humor and absurdity, their intuitive logic, their beguiling juxtapositions. They are sweet and cruel and plaintive, and they express, in changing terms, our failures and obsessions, the plain ways we neglect and punish and please and love and forget one another.
The Observable Characteristics of Organisms
In Ryan MacDonald’s stories, most no more than a page in length, we are given glimpses of a father and daughter at the zoo; an isolated man lamenting the absence of TV in his life; two young men atop a fridge at a party, drinking wine. These are stories of marriage and family, of the oddities of the natural world, of college parties, of web-cams and media obsession.
Ryan MacDonald’s short tales of seemingly quotidian life lead us to the end of the diving board — and then leave it to us to take the plunge into the depths of exploding implications. Everything’s normal, until it isn’t. Through these stories MacDonald invites us to look around our own lives and wonder what is moving around just beneath the surface and about to break free to surprise or frighten us. A stimulating, intriguing collection.
Do you know what the lurid intermixture of complicated emotions produces, according to Nathaniel Hawthorne? That’s right, it produces the illuminating blaze of the infernal regions. Ryan MacDonald’s glorious shards of prose are both lurid and blazing, and together they comprise an anthology of complex feelings — dream-like, vivid, and never, ever obvious.