I had the great pleasure this year of publishing author Jean Ryan’s second short story collection, Lovers and Loners. It’s only the third book besides my own that I’ve put out on the MadeMark Publishing imprint, something I reserve only for a few books, given how much a labor of love publishing is.
I recognized Jean’s gift a few years ago when she submitted a story for the anthology I was co-editing, Outer Voices Inner Lives. When the chance came to publish her second collection, I jumped.
And now I’m very happy to share that Lover and Loners was met with praise by the Summerset Review. It’s well deserved by an author who gives meaning to the term literary fiction.
“As you probably know, Summerset prides itself in being completely unbiased in deciding what to publish and what to praise. Though we don’t ask for blind submissions and we do read cover notes, we try very hard to be as impartial in determining who and what gets published and reviewed here. We very much prefer dealing with each work as it stands alone.
That being said, I still have only wonderful things to say about Jean Ryan’s second collection, succeeding her equally wonderful first, Survival Skills. In Lovers, what I appreciate most is the consistency from story to story and the clarity of voice. These are mostly quiet pieces, pensive and thoughtful in nature, involving characters with situations most of us have either endured ourselves or can easily identify with, surrounded by engaging metaphors and facts to keep the reader riveted.”
In Lovers and Loners, Jean Ryan’s new collection of short stories, we meet a richly varied group of women struggling for footholds in a shifting world. In “Parasites” we’re introduced to a widow who agrees to have dinner with a man she fears is a killer. “Manatee Gardens” deftly explores the relationship between a mother and daughter who discover common ground at a marine sanctuary just when time seems to be working against them. In “Chasing Zero” a woman with a mysterious illness loses her hold on the callous man she adores. “Odds and Ends” follows a woman running errands on the last day of her life.
Each story in Lovers and Loners reveals a craftsmanship that Publisher’s Weekly compared to “a scientist’s observant eye” in their review of her previous collection Survival Skills. Here Ryan continues examining the human experience, one woman at a time.