Whatever happened to “A novel in stories?” For that is what Send Me is--the saga of Teresa Malloy Ragozzino Kerrigan and her two husbands, four children, and assorted hangers-on. Matt, the eldest, pines for the memory of his first father. Katherine, turned Karen, is in a constant state of rebellion. Joe, with feelings for men, finds himself upstaged by his younger brother Frankie, who declares himself an alien at fourteen and a gay alien soon afterwards. He’s just waiting for the Visitors to make things right. Ryan organizes the narrative not chronologically, or by character (though everybody has their time to control the narrative), but by revelation, making each story reveal another piece of the puzzle that is the family. And most of the chapters do work as stories as well as chapters, offering the characters’ answers to their questions and desires, if not necessarily the answers they want. For Matt’s pining, Karen’s rebellion, Joe’s jealousy, and Frankie’s inquisitiveness will lead them to places they did not necessarily want to go. Ryan does a nice job of bringing to life that strip of Florida dominated by NASA, and the writing is simple and yet lush. I heard Mr. Ryan speak at our Readers Retreat in the fall of 2006, and when someone asked him how he had written such a strong first novel, he confessed that he had written several others; this was just the first one published.
— Daniel Goldin
Patrick Ryan’s first work of fiction is written with such authority, grace, and wisdom, it might be the capstone of a distinguished literary career.
In the Florida of NASA launches, ranch houses, and sudden hurricanes, Teresa Kerrigan, ungrounded by two divorces, tries to hold her life together. But her ex-husbands linger in the background while her four children spin away to their own separate futures, each carrying the baggage of a complex family history. Matt serves as caretaker to the ailing father who abandoned him as a child, while his wild teenage sister, Karen, hides herself in marriage to a born-again salesman. Joe, a perpetual outsider, struggles with a private sibling rivalry that nearly derails him. And then there’s the youngest, Frankie, an endearing, eccentric sci-fi freak who’s been searching since childhood for intelligent life in the universe–and finds it.
Written with wry affection, and with compassion for every character in its pages, Send Me is a wholly original, haunting evocation of family love, loss, and, ultimately, forgiveness.
About the Author
Patrick Ryan was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Florida. His work has appeared in the Yale Review, the Iowa Review, One Story, and other journals. He lives in New York City.