Friday, November 24, 2017
Books

What's Patrick Ryan reading?

RECOMMENDED READING


Nightstand

Patrick Ryan

In his collection The Dream Life of Astronauts, Ryan, 52, weaves together short stories of life's promises and pitfalls, with characters ranging from egotistical Miss America wanna-bes to a grandmother, an unsafe driver, who was having an affair with her driver's education teacher. All take place on Florida's Space Coast, with its lure of Cape Canaveral and its rocket ships as a backdrop.

Ryan is a graduate of Merritt Island High and Florida State University who holds a master's in fine arts from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. We caught up with him by phone from his home in New York City.

What's on your nightstand?

I have David Sedaris' Theft by Finding, The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham and Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson. I just thought (Tree of Smoke) was amazing. With that one I was much more drawn to the parts about the soldiers mucking around in the jungle than in the CIA aspects. It is huge.

Sometimes I get mad when a book I want to read turns out to be huge. Do you?

Actually, I try not to read two books at once because I walk a lot in Manhattan, and if one is too heavy to carry around in my shoulder bag, it can get tough. How I read Tree of Smoke was I had the hardback and then I bought a paperback. I sliced it up with a box cutter and carried sections of it. I do the same thing, say, if I am reading a Dickens novel. I read David Copperfield like that. I found an extra cheap copy. I carried around 50-page chunks of it because I'm not a young whippersnapper ... not only did I slice up David Copperfield, but I got an audio copy, too. I was basically ingesting it three different ways.

Were you a reader growing up on Merritt Island?

When I was a little kid, the only things in the house were The Hardy Boys, and then one day my grandparents gave me The Collected Stories of Mark Twain. It blew my mind about what a short story could do. I had no interest in paying attention in school, but then I started reading voraciously. I had no guidance. Nobody pointed me in the direction to read. I'd get my allowance every week, like $1 or $2, and I'd go to the bookstore and I'd buy a paperback. I'd just walk in, buy something and leave. I read everything. I remember reading novelizations. One week I'd read A Separate Piece or To Kill a Mockingbird and then the next week I'd read Cannonball Run. I just didn't care. I read Gone With the Wind and then something racy like a Harold Robbins novel. I like to think I'm the opposite of a snob, and I think that's where it started. I also remember a funny thing. My parents would buy a book, and we'd all read it with different book marks. It would just be a beatup paperback. Stephen King or Amityville Horror, Flowers in the Attic. All of us would be reading the same book, and I don't remember us having a single discussion about the books. We'd share the book but we didn't share the experience at all. The rule was you couldn't take it out of the house.

Contact Piper Castillo at pcastillo@tampabay.com. Follow @Florida_PBJC.

Comments
What’s David Crosby reading?

What’s David Crosby reading?

NightstandDavid CrosbyWe caught up with Crosby, 76, by phone on Nov. 14, the morning after he performed at the City Winery in Boston. The two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, social activist and outspoken Twitter user will be returning to Florida, per...
Published: 11/24/17
When to watch ‘Rudolph,’ ‘The Polar Express,’ ‘A Christmas Story Live’ and more holiday specials

When to watch ‘Rudolph,’ ‘The Polar Express,’ ‘A Christmas Story Live’ and more holiday specials

'Tis the season for a TV schedule packed with holiday specials and Christmas classics.We've already been seeing Christmas movies and commercials since early November, but the days following Thanksgiving are when all the networks kick into high gear.F...
Published: 11/22/17
How ‘A Christmas Carol’ was born

How ‘A Christmas Carol’ was born

Charles Dickens’ best-known and most beloved book almost didn’t happen. In 1843, Dickens, then 31, was already dealing with the downside of international success. He had followed bestsellers like Oliver Twist with several flops and was s...
Published: 11/22/17
What to watch this week: ‘Marvel’s Runaways,’ ‘Godless,’ Thanksgiving specials

What to watch this week: ‘Marvel’s Runaways,’ ‘Godless,’ Thanksgiving specials

MondayDavid Letterman: The Mark Twain Prize, 9 p.m., PBS: A special celebrating the work of Late Night and The Late Show host David Letterman.SERIES PREMIERE: Big Hero 6 the Series, 8 p.m., Disney Channel: The new animated series takes place after th...
Published: 11/20/17
Video: Forget Pizza Rat. Meet St. Petersburg’s Pizza Squirrel

Video: Forget Pizza Rat. Meet St. Petersburg’s Pizza Squirrel

New York, it seems, doesn't have a monopoly on pizza-chomping rodents.Around 2:45 p.m. Friday, the Tampa Bay Times spotted a squirrel digging a nearly entire slice of pizza out of a trash can at 146 Second St. N in St. Petersburg. The squirrel hoppe...
Published: 11/17/17
Here are this week’s pop culture winners and losers

Here are this week’s pop culture winners and losers

WINNERS:Taylor SwiftFollowing the death of his mother, Gloria, The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon shared a touching story with the audience about his mom squeezing his hand three times and saying "I love you," when he was a kid. "Last week, I was in ...
Published: 11/17/17
Review: ‘Marvel’s Runaways’ pits rebellious teens against their evil parents

Review: ‘Marvel’s Runaways’ pits rebellious teens against their evil parents

The parents in Runaways really are the worst.Hulu's new Marvel series follows a ragtag group of teenagers who have to band together to defeat their own parents, who are collective members of a secret criminal organization called the Pride.In the wake...
Published: 11/17/17
What to watch this weekend: ‘The Punisher,’ ‘Search Party,’ Elizabeth Smart Lifetime movie

What to watch this weekend: ‘The Punisher,’ ‘Search Party,’ Elizabeth Smart Lifetime movie

GRIEF AND GUNS: THE PUNISHERMarvel fans first saw Marine veteran Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) in Netflix's Daredevil series. The brutish anti-hero finally gets his own series with The Punisher, exploring what he did after helping Daredevil (Charlie Co...
Published: 11/17/17
Review: George Saunders’ ‘Sea Oak’ makes a dead-funny TV comedy

Review: George Saunders’ ‘Sea Oak’ makes a dead-funny TV comedy

Recently, George Saunders won the Man Booker Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious literary awards.And now he has a TV show about zombies!Saunders, one of America’s best writers of fiction, won the 2017 Booker for his splendid novel Lincoln in t...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/22/17
Jesmyn Ward wins National Book Award for ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’

Jesmyn Ward wins National Book Award for ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’

Jesmyn Ward is having a good year.At a glamorous ceremony Wednesday night in New York, Ward was named the winner of the 2017 National Book Award for Sing, Unburied, Sing, about a Mississippi family's epic road trip. The book is Ward's third novel ...
Published: 11/16/17