Lovers and Loners
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.
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 a 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.
Jean Ryan’s debut collection 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. In “Greyhound,” a woman brings home a rescued dog for her troubled partner in hopes that they might heal one another-while the dog in “What Gretel Knows” is the keeper of her owner’s deepest secrets. In “Migration,” a recently divorced woman retreats to a lakefront cabin where she is befriended by a mysterious Canada goose just as autumn begins to turn to winter. As a tornado ravages three towns in “The Spider in the Sink,” a storm chaser’s wife spares the life of a spider as she anxiously waits for her husband to return. And in “A Sea Change,” a relationship falls victim to a woman’s obsession with the world below the waves. The world is at once a beautiful and perilous place, Jean Ryan’s stories tell us, and our lives are defined by the shelters we build.
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What if you met a little girl who looks just like your sister when she was a child? What if the resemblance doesn’t stop there?
Inspired by Jean Ryan’s unforgettable short story “Double Take,” LOST SISTER explores the lasting effects of childhood trauma and the enduring love between sisters.
A sauté cook at a Berkeley restaurant, Lorrie Rivers is weary of her job and tired of the dating circuit; she needs to make some changes in her life. More than anything, she wants to visit her estranged sister Bett, for whom she feels tremendous love-and guilt. When Ginger, Bett’s look-alike, appears, Lorrie instantly bonds with the girl and enjoys a second chance at being the older sister. But joy turns to fear as Lorrie begins to understand not only what happened in her own family, but the peril surrounding the young girl.