Pamela Ryder

Selected Works

Fiction
When life dwindles to its irrevocable conclusion, recollections are illuminated, even unto the grave. Such is the narrative of Paradise Field: A Novel In Stories, recounting the last years of a WWII bomber pilot and his drift into infirmity. The title comes from a remote airfield in the Southwest, and while the father recalls his flying days, his daughter—who nurses the old man—reflects as well—a narrative that will be both solace and provocation to anyone who has been left to stand graveside and confront eternity.
Correction of Drift explores the lives behind the headlines of the Lindbergh baby kidnap case, and examines the endurance—and demise—of those consumed by catastrophe and besieged by grief. All are bound by the violence, turmoil, and mystery of the child’s disappearance as it becomes evident that each life has been irrevocably changed. Patterns of bereavement and loss illuminate these stories: despair at the death of a child; the retreat into seclusion; the comfort and the desolation of a marriage. But the heart of this novel is the far-reaching nature of tragedy, and the ways the characters go on to live—or end—their lives.
The stories herein transport us through realms as varied as the language that tells these tales. "We are too much in the open here," says the narrator of “Hovenweep” visiting the Canyonlands and finding her life laid bare against a landscape of desolation. In “Tendrils, As It Were", the ribbons that bind a wedding bouquet unravel as surely as the marriage does. “Arroyo” takes the reader on a road trip through the desert and into a relationship that is “past the point of pulling over, turning back.” In “Solstice,” a coalminer’s wife busies herself with ordinary chores rendered luminous while she awaits her husband’s return from the “everlasting winters of the pit". The explorers of “Overland” search for the source of a river in terrain as tangled as their motives, while the purpose of the expedition disintegrates. The off-kilter bishop of “In the Matter of the Prioress” accuses a nun of unearthly seductions, but cannot help divulge his private passions. In “A Tendency to Be Gone,” a recluse portrays isolation in the language of enchantments, and reveals the talismans that keep her secrets safe. “Seraphim” delivers us to a mediaeval convent as plague sweeps the Continent, and its inhabitants face the devastation to come. With sentences that are plain and precise, or lush and illuminating, this collection is a guide through the literary habitations of uncertainty and the topographies obsession and redemption.

A Tendency to Be Gone: Stories

A Tendency to Be Gone traces the private pathways of obsession, destruction, and redemption.

These fifteen stories transport us into realms as varied as the language that tells these tales. With sentences that are plain and precise, or lush and illuminating, we journey through a topography of the heart.

"We are too much in the open here", says the narrator of "Hovenweep" visiting the Canyonlands and finding her life laid bare against a landscape of desolation. In "Tendrils, As It Were," the ribbons that bind a wedding bouquet unravel as surely as the marriage does. "Arroyo" takes the reader on a road trip through the desert and into a relationship that is "past the point of pulling over, turning back." In "Solstice," a coal miner’s wife busies herself with ordinary chores rendered luminous while she awaits her husband’s return from the "everlasting winters of the pit." The explorers of "Overland" search for the source of a river in terrain as tangled as their motives, while the purpose of the expedition disintegrates. The off-kilter bishop of "In the Matter of the Prioress" accuses a nun of unearthly seductions, but cannot help divulge his own obsession. In "A Tendency to Be Gone," a recluse portrays isolation in the language of enchantments, and reveals the talismans that keep her secrets safe. "Seraphim" delivers us to a mediaeval convent as plague sweeps the Continent, and its inhabitants face the devastation to come. Ryder’s stories fling the reader ever farther through territories unchartered, and into the literary habitations of uncertainty.

Reviews


"When Ryder offers you a furrow, and this she will do, this she will do, here’s my advice: not to tarry, not to resist; hasten, instead, to fetch yourself down into the narrows with her, and find there a sensorium unlikely to crop up in your experience without your having the luck of her fastidious companionship in the lead. Ryder is a vigilance, a pervigilance, a field guide with scruples on every page."
-- Gordon Lish

"There is a powerful alchemy at work in these stories, transforming everyday words and giving them new life, luster, and meaning. Ryder's is the rare and wonderful prose."
-- Lydia Peelle

A Tendency to Be Gone is published by Dzanc Books, www.dzancbooks.org.