The Observable Characteristics of Organisms: Stories (Paperback)

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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.
As MacDonald says, “I think what I’m after in the stories as well as in the video work is finding an experiential moment, nothing really stable, something pleasantly unstable, or uncomfortable . . . purposefully pleasant uncomfortable instability with moments of tenderness and definitely humor. Certainly nothing concrete, unless it needs that. A certain fear of and respect for banality. I’m after a good time, which can often turn into a really bad time, but either way, one we’ll remember forever.”
Despite the range of circumstances they reveal, these stories are unified by a brightness of vision, deft observation, and consistently sharp, funny, and unbridled language.

About the Author

Ryan MacDonald is a lecturer at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he received an MFA in English and an MFA in studio art. His solo and collaborative work has been exhibited or performed at Fountain Studios, New York Live Arts, The Continental Review, Flying Object, and St. Mark’s Church, and elsewhere.

Praise For…

“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.”
—Stanley Crawford, author of A Garlic Testament and Log of the S.S. the Mrs Unguentine

“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.”
—Chris Bachelder, author of Bear v. Shark and Abbott Awaits

“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.”
—Noy Holland, author of Swim for the Little One First

Product Details
ISBN: 9781573661829
ISBN-10: 1573661821
Publisher: Fiction Collective 2
Publication Date: September 30th, 2014
Pages: 160
Language: English