I’m a longtime fan of author Jean Ryan and could not be happier to announce the release of her new essay collection Strange Company. Jean is a true wordsmith. Each of her essays, short stories and reminiscences offers readers a master class in word choice, rhythm, nuance and style, while never being obvious. It’s the kind of writing other writers wish we’d done, while at the same time asking, ‘How did she do that?’
Her short story Manatee Gardens was included in the anthology Outer Voices Inner Lives, a Lambda Literary Award finalist in 2015. I was the co-eidtor and publisher, and we put Jean’s story first for a simple reason: among many fine pieces in the anthology, there were none better.
Her short story collection Survival Skills “… tells stories of nature and of human nature. The characters who inhabit Jean Ryan’s graceful, imaginative collection of stories are survivors of accidents and acts of nature, of injuries both physical and emotional. Ryan writes of beauty and aging, of love won and lost-with characters enveloped in the mysteries of the natural world and the animal kingdom.”
And now Jean has released Strange Company, short essays on the natural world and our connections to it.
In Strange Company, a delightful collection of short essays, Jean Ryan brings us closer to the natural world. From lizards to lady bugs, from the inscrutable sloth to the resplendent quetzal, Ryan reveals some of our commonalities with earth’s creatures and hints at the lessons we might learn from them.
Do lizards fall in love? What do sloths think about all day? Why is the blood of a horseshoe crab so valuable? Do starlings flock for fun? Can a parrot serve as a therapist? Do turtles ever grow bored with their long lives? Why would a crow foster a kitten? Can snails be fearless?
These are just a few of the questions Ryan poses in Strange Company as she invites the reader on wild journey through land, sea and sky. While these essays acknowledge our responsibility to Mother Nature, the insights they offer are affirmative and heartening. With her precise, elegant prose, Ryan draws us into the tantalizing world of animals and their oddities.
You can read my previous interview with Jean HERE.
Jean Ryan, a 2014 Lambda finalist in Lesbian General Fiction, lives in Napa, California. Her stories and essays have appeared in a variety of journals, including Other Voices, Pleiades,The Summerset Review, The Massachusetts Review and The Blue Lake Review. Nominated for several Pushcart Prizes, she has also published a novel, Lost Sister. Her debut collection of short stories, Survival Skills, was published in April 2013 by Ashland Creek Press. ‘Manatee Gardens’ has previously appeared in Blue Lake Review. Her story, Manatee Gardens, appeared in the anthology Outer Voices Inner Lives, a Lambda Literary Award finalist in 2015. Please visit Jean’s website at http://jean-ryan.com/