Praise for Animals in Motion
Kirkus (Starred): A debut collection of stories—one of the best in recent memory—that finds psychological acuity within characters who are unreflective or even impenetrable.
Ryan (Writing/Sarah Lawrence) has plainly been honing his craft, because the 13 tales here are the work of a writer who knows exactly what he's doing—and challenges the reader to figure out how he's doing it. Not that the stories are difficult or experimental, but they often seem to begin at a point where nothing is clear—who the protagonist is, what the situation is, where the tale is headed—and then they unfold as consciousness might, not in a linear fashion but making revelations through association or omission; those revelations might be clearer to the reader than to the characters....
Full review here.
Publishers Weekly: "...Ryan's collection triumphs as a spiritual and cerebral journey through oft-ignored parts of the human—and animal—psyche."
Full review here.
#1 on SPD Fiction Bestsellers list for
July & August 2014
Booklist: "... Ryan's prose is precise, often blunt, and always evocative. The conceits for his stories are very original and never predictable. Some of the stories border on being dreamlike, while others are purely realistic, but always any definitive conclusions hover just out of reach, close enough to savor through multiple reads. This book is a great choice for any lover of well-written stories."
"There is not a word wasted in this powerful debut collection. I think that David Ryan has set a course that will influence many other writers, anyone who values language that is taut and precise, characters whose response to their ruin is, in effect, 'Bring it on,' and important concerns that claim a reader's attention in the most persuasive ways possible."
"Wow, these stories are good. They are elegant and stealthy and tender, even as they dramatize our more animal passions, the longing and regret especially. Often startling for how they've been put together, the ingenuity is matched only by the excellence of Ryan's sentence making."
—Fiona Maazel, author of
A LITTLE MORE HUMAN
"David Ryan's collection Animals in Motion is whip-smart and stunning. Stark, lyrical, and unsettling, these stories resonate with the grit of Denis Johnson and Raymond Carver and help us imagine new possibilities for the short story form."
"ANIMALS IN MOTION is a revelatory collection, full of gripping stories set in the borderland between reality and dream. David Ryan is a tough-minded but deceptively lyrical writer, with an engagingly dark sensibility."
"The stories in David Ryan's debut collection tack nimbly between terrible unease and terrible beauty. He's a diabolical craftsman. You wouldn't trust him for a minute, except you find you have no choice.
—Owen King, author of DOUBLE FEATURE: A NOVEL
"Penance, mercy, regret, menace, love: the characters in ANIMALS IN MOTION grasp for the last crucial parts of themselves, while the stories they populate cradle them and tenderly take scalpels to their hearts. At the periphery, animals stalk, haunt, and yield to sacrifice. "Pharmaceutical grade," says a businesswoman, holding a bag of white powder out to a narrator she has mistaken for someone else. David Ryan's writing is like that—startling and pure, it will blast into your brain, where you will feel its effects linger for a long, long time."
—Nelly Reifler, author of
ELECT H. MOUSE STATE JUDGE
"David Ryan writes with impressive versatility, in both prose style and subject matter, but always with empathy, insight, and panache. ANIMALS IN MOTION is a superb and gritty collection of stories."
—Teddy Wayne, author of
THE LOVE SONG OF JONNY VALENTINE
The unforgettable characters in this remarkably original collection are the lonely and the lost—who wouldn't dream of asking for our sympathy and, for just this reason, we give them all we have. Says one, 'You get to where all you see are the spaces between people passing on the street.' It's on those very spaces, perhaps empty to the rest of us, that David Ryan trains his eye and from which he draws his vivid art. Another character concludes that he has 'a small talent for silence.' Ryan's talent, on the other hand, is large indeed and lyrically sonic."
—Douglas Bauer, author of WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?: MATTERS OF LIFE AND DEATH
"David Ryan is a 21st century Steinbeck. His stories are contemplations on the restless soul, lost and meandering through a wilderness of casinos, glass box office buildings, baggage claims, and KFC. The world of Animals in Motion is stark and brutal, but teeming with humanity, wit, heart, and spirit. The complexity beneath Ryan's bare-bones prose puts ANIMALS IN MOTION on the shelf of books to be read again and again."
"From the first page of ANIMALS IN MOTION one is immersed in the precisionist's world, filled with startling light, stunning events, exquisitely captured moments—a haunting world of which the reader has a particularly wide-angled view. Story after story Ryan works his unique magic, showing us a world as mystifying as it is mundane. This recognition, that the ordinary is very strange indeed, is at the heart of these quiet but searing stories. Animals In Motion is a marvel."
The Mysterious Bookshop:
"...Animals in Motion includes a number of dark, menacing tales that remind me a bit of Jim Thompson, a bit of William Gay, and maybe a hint of Nick Cave for good measure...."
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