“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, and Bird



“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



“Concise and contrary, exquisite and eccentric, these stories unsettle, then settle, then unsettle again.”


—Susan Steinberg, author of Hydroplane and Spectacle

The Observable Characteristics of Organisms is available at FC2 or from an independent bookstore like Powell’s, McNally Jackson,  and Word. And yes, also Barnes and Noble, and Amazon

”The short fiction in Ryan MacDonald’s sublime collection is an adventure.

There is so much movement and variety in these tiny stories you’d swear they’re alive.

There is gut-punch sadness, gut-bust humor, and cruelty served up so casually it’s disarming...”


—Small Press Book Review

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