Welcome To

Buy Now

Pamela Ryder

Pamela Ryder is the author of Correction of Drift: A Novel in Stories about the Lindbergh baby kidnap case. Her newest collection of stories is A Tendency to Be Gone. She lives near New York City.


"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 that engages all five of the senses."

– Lydia Peele, author of Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing


Related Posts

Featured Book

A Tendency to Be Gone

This is a powerful collection with language that surprises and characters that fascinate.


“I had him once to hold. I have a stone to hold. From this day forward. We go forward, we watch the road, we listen for the hills. I listen to the stone: there is no singing. Once there was singing; we were singing. We were kneeling and we sang the words we knew. There was a ringing bell, fingered rings, him never to be slipping through my fingers, my folded hands. There was a hymn, a hollow sound. There was a joyful noise. There was a moon-white paper marked with my name, his name. The paper was unfolded, unfrayed. We were not afraid. We would take a chance. We would last. We would stay awake, see signs.”

The words move you and the stories carry you away. That’s what they’re for, to take you somewhere else, maybe somewhere new, whether it be down the road or a thousand years ago. Stories create new worlds or they make our world new, imbued with magic, with wonder.

My mother asked me for the hundredth time in the almost month since I’ve been back what I want to do, what interests me. I told her, Nothing matters so much as stories.

“My father is out on the curb, picking through the throwaways. He is what I have folded. He is holding a shirt to his shirtlessness. He is showing me what to save by taking a stitch in time.”

Pamela Ryder’s A Tendency to be Gone offers stories that matter, the kind that transport you, that move you, emotionally, geographically, temporally. No two stories are the same in terms of style or even content — from lyrical to declarative to almost Victorian, she builds reality around us. And though the collection is diverse, it is cohesive.

The title sticks in my head and it’s very appropriate for the collection. There is a strong sense of things past, of something gone, of leaving, as well as a greater force at work, whether it be god or devils or the enormity of nature, the insistence of Time. Within these she weaves lives, sometimes broken, other times breaking, but always searching. For what?

Ritual and repetition, signs, significance of any kind: these are people possessed. They need something, anything, and maybe they don’t know what it is. Maybe they never knew or will never know. Maybe they had it and can only hope it will come again. The enormity of their surroundings swallows them as the prose hits all senses and we fall into it, into these worlds, these places, completely consumed by a collapsing house, the neverending wilderness, the countless rocks and hills.

“She takes me under. Pushes me into the place she wants my mouth. She wants me drinking from the river. She wants me head-down in the water, mouth to stone and split-legged in the dark. She finds the pebble of me, the slippery banks of me where I am winged and unescaping. Where I am sliding stream-bottom stones, stirred on by the scent of something wounded. I am face down and willing. I am unfolding, unstruggling, undone.”

Her ability to describe settings, to allow that setting to seamlessly become a body, a human body, to be sexy and profound at the same time continually impresses me. I read the collection again this last weekend, and it’s better than the first time — richer, fuller. The stories opened up to me in new ways, differently than the first read where I was mostly just riding the prose, enjoying its sound, its texture. But this time, this time the stories are more than just beautiful: they’re real and they matter.

“I will have a bed. I will make an unmade bed of stone. I will pretend a pillow for my head. I will pretend the stones will keep me safe and where I am: face down to the rock, powdered with the ashes where the rock was burning.”

You might also like

  • Buy Now
    Chris Deal
  • Buy Now
    The Collected Stories of William Faulkner
    William Faulkner
  • Buy Now
    Cut Through the Bone
    Ethel Rohan
  • Buy Now
    The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor
    Flannery O'Connor
  • Buy Now
    Rashomon and Other Stories
    Ryunosuke Akutagawa
  • Buy Now
    Seven Japanese Tales
    Junichiro Tanizaki

Let your voice be heard

Subscribe to Comments RSS

1 Comment

  1. Jordan Blum said on 12/22/11 at 9:20 pm Reply

    Great post, Edgar; I like how you’ve interwoven segments into your praise. Her words speak volumes (judging by just these examples alone), and I can identify with them. Actually, I’m working on a long poem now that constantly uses “We,” much like your opening example does. It’s powerful like that. I also really identify with your idea that “They need something, anything, and maybe they don’t know what it is. Maybe they never knew or will never know. Maybe they had it and can only hope it will come again. ” I think that’s part of being human, and I definitely feel like something is missing in my life. I partially had it, I know it’s gone, and I may or may not miss it. I do hope it comes again though.


Leave a Comment