Thursday, June 14, 2018

Second Edition Paperback of Down in the River

The new paperback edition of Down in the River is available at reliable online distributors including Amazon, Ingram, and Broadway Books. The latter is one of Portland's most celebrated booksellers. If convenient, it's always a good idea to spend your money at a great bookstore. 

Praise for Down in the River:

“A heartbreaking, macabre pilgrimage.” –Paste Magazine

“Even as Lyle runs toward trouble and danger, his youthful optimism, however delusory it might be, flickers in these pages, compelling the reader to journey deeper into night, in search of hope and redemption.” --The Rumpus

“Dark and grisly, it’s a novel that holds both popular appeal and deeper intellectual pleasures, one you can recommend to friends who read only an occasional Stephen King novel or those who read the most lauded literary fiction.” --Fiction Writers Review

“Ryan Blacketter's Down in the River is an impressive debut novel that effectively tackles themes of mental illness and grief.” --Largehearted Boy

"A remarkable, darkly startling and endearing debut novel." --The Quivering Pen

"[Ryan] has a marvelous eye for the emotional textures of the most commonplace experience, the kind that familiarity makes almost subliminal."  --Marilynne Robinson

"A strange, haunting journey across the shadowy landscape of grief and longing. To our good fortune, Ryan Blacketter is a heroic guide into this exploration of the mysterious workings of the human heart. Down in the River will grip you by the collar and not let go. This is a brave first novel from a writer to be watched." --Mitch Wieland, author of God's Dogs

"I can't remember when I've liked a character as much as I like young Lyle Rettew, or when I've cheered one on so hard, despite the fact that he's clearly crazy and his quest is doomed." --Pinckney Benedict, author of Miracle Boy and Other Stories

"Blacketter's prose is paired with the torque of a plot that lives and moves like an indomitable engine. This difficult and necessary story is inbreathed with a ferocity that leaves the reader shaken. In the end, through Blacketter's sure hand, we encounter a surprisingly intimate brush with our own desire for peace of soul, and in so doing, are drawn toward the ineffable mystery of how our contact with others inevitably carries with it a sense of infinite gravity." --Shann Ray, author of American Masculine 

Other terrific bookstores that carry this title are Rediscovered Bookshop in Boise, Auntie's Books in Spokane, Prairie Lights in Iowa City, and other bookstores throughout the Northwest and beyond.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Ryan's article in the Observer: "The Rebel Left Has Vanished."

This essay was widely shared and aggregated in magazines such as, "Arts & Letters Daily."

Friday, December 01, 2017


A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Ryan Blacketter is the author of Down in the River. He works as a mentor for PEN America's Prison and Justice Writing Program. A left-conservative, agnostic Catholic, he explores contradictory personalities in his fiction and essays.

Ryan's short stories appear in Antioch Review, Crab Orchard Review, Eclectica Magazine, Alaska Quarterly Review, Image, Quick Fiction, and elsewhere. A Tennessee Williams Scholar at Sewanee, and a former Tin House slush reader, he has published essays in the Observer, the Rumpus, and Quillette.  


Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Ryan is proud to have volunteered for PEN America's Prison and Justice Writing Program since 2015. For a hundred years, PEN has defended writers from harassment, censorship, even the penalty of death, all over the world. 

He also worked as editor for PEN to temporarily "sculpt" PEN-award-winning prison essays to manageable size for the authors to read excerpts to audiences, in 2018.

Along with other Iowa grads, Ryan worked part-time as a One Morgan Writers' Workshop Thesis Adviser to 8th graders at Morgan County Middle School in Georgia, in 2017-2018, conducted online.

At Penn State York's Osher program, in fall 2018, Ryan will teach Hemingway stories that demonstrate the author's enormous compassion and creative innovation. 

He enjoyed teaching creative writing at Lincoln High School in Portland, OR. His 9th graders' stories exploring the mysteries of pizza and aliens--or sometimes very serious subjects--were a blast to read. 

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Reviews for Down in the River: Fiction Writers Review, Paste, The Rumpus, Largehearted Boy, and City Paper

Selected Reviews, etc., of Ryan Blacketter's novel Down in the River:

Paste Magazine's interview with Ryan Blacketter: "The human story is a fairly dark one with painful and dangerous impulses that we all have. And that's coupled with a fortress-like psychology that most people have, protecting them from the awareness of the fact that they are part of this human experience." Paste Magazine

Fiction Writers Review: "What makes this novel so warm and heartbreaking despite its gruesome material is that all the characters are driven by their love and concern for each other." Click here to read the entire review: Fiction Writers Review

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Hemingway and Salinger Articles

Click here for Ryan's "Catcher" article in the Observer and here for his Hemingway essay.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Ryan's Rumpus Essay on Guided By Voices

"Albums of Our Lives: Alien Lanes"