Reviews, interviews and endorsements of
Ryan Blacketter's Novel, Down in the River.
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
The Rumpus: "[Down in the River] casts us deep into a haunting, crystalline forest of ice-lit trees, broken streetlamps . . . a place where a kind of inner wilderness has crept back through the city, where the lights of passing trains, the reflections of windows and the 'cry of night birds' appear intermittently like forms of meaningless chaos or secret signs." The Rumpus
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
Largehearted Boy is one of America's finest sites for contemporary music and literature. Presented here is the narrated playlist Ryan made to go along with Down in the River. Ryan's LHB Book Notes Playlist
The Idaho Statesman: "From the opening line . . . the reader is swallowed by Blacketter's ability to create atmosphere and really make the setting a separate character." Author Digs at Dark Side
The Quivering Pen: "A remarkable, darkly startling and endearing debut novel." The Quivering Pen
Crime Fiction Lover: "This is not a conventional crime novel, but one which, even in its darker moments, deals sensitively with a young man raging against authority."
Rightsdesk: "In Ryan Blacketter's stunning debut novel, Down in the River, right and wrong are so intertwined it's hard to see anything clearly. Visceral, intense, and moving, it will stretch your sympathies further than you might ever have imagined they could go. It's a remarkable, shocking debut..."
Small Press Book Review: "Drowning in Confusion." Sam Slaughter got many facts wrong in this piece, so many that his editor agreed to change five of them a day after publication. The journal went on to publish, however, that Lyle carried a "rotting corpse" in his backpack. Not true. The girl was a soap mummy, and she had died a few years previous to the events in the novel. Therefore she would carry no obvious smell.
"[Blacketter] has a marvelous eye for the emotional textures of the most commonplace experience, the kind that familiarity makes almost subliminal." --Marilynne Robinson, author of Housekeeping and Gilead and winner of the Pulitzer
"I can't remember when I've liked a character as much as I've liked 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. A thunderous debut, and the beginning of what will surely be a breathtaking career." --Pinckney Benedict, author of Town Smokes and Miracle Boy
"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 the 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 and winner of the American Book Award
"I was completely enthralled by this haunting, page-turning novel. The disturbing events, the evocative landscape, and the chaos of mental disorder self-medicated by drugs and rebellion are all rendered in a humanizing, beautifully-rendered realism. It's an awesome feat to make such a dark and frenzied journey accessible and even understandable." --Wayne Harrison, author of The Spark and the Drive
"Lyle is a protector, but he couldn't protect his twin sister, Lila, from the insanity of his brother's religious zeal. Protection, doing the right thing, and compassion are what Lyle desires and strives to accomplish, whether it has to do with a dead Jewish girl's final resting place, a wounded goose he finds at the end of a bridge, or the injustice of religious bullies driving people to suicide."
--Charlie Stella, author of Eddie's World and Jimmy Bench-Press
"Ryan Blacketter's Down in the River is an impressive debut novel that effectively tackles themes of mental illness and grief." --David Gutowski, founding editor of Largehearted Boy
Down in the River
Down in the River