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Ryan Asmussen

I am always pleased to receive review requests from new and aspiring authors and when they simply arrive ‘out of the blue’, it is always a nice surprise, especially when an author is as full of enthusiasm as Ryan Asmussen.

Ryan wrote to introduce himself to me and to offer me the opportunity to read and give my thoughts about his soon to be published book, ‘The Englishman and the Butterfly’.

Although this will be his debut novel, Ryan is already a  more than consummate author and public speaker, and certainly no stranger to having his name in print, in the fields of poetry, journalism and film critique.

His website is professional, comprehensively populated with his many personal and professional achievements and not least, thoroughly engrossing and interesting to read, including sample reading from ‘The Englishman and the Butterfly’, just to whet your appetite. So be sure to stop by and visit Ryan, here.

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A photograph of author Ryan AsmussenRYAN ASMUSSEN, writer and high school English teacher of AP English Literature & Composition for the past nine years, has been a Presenter at College Board’s AP Conference (“The Problem of ‘Meaning’ in Literature”) as well as a Reader for the AP English Literature & Composition Exam.

In addition to his writing and teaching, he plays drums, guitar, and piano, sometimes in semi-professional bands, and studies Zen Buddhism. Asmussen earned his Bachelor of Liberal Studies in English & American Literature and Master of Arts in Teaching in English from Boston University.

Originally from Newburyport, Massachusetts, he now lives and works in the Chicagoland area with wife Jenny, son Declan, and Boston Terrier Moe.

When asked in a recent interview, what experience he hoped that readers would take away from having read the book, Ryan replied:

Difficult to answer this. Ideally, they’ll be transported to a place of their own personal imagining along with the characters, the settings, the ideas, making a world of the work on their own. At the same time, I think this novel, while not espousing any particular ‘message,’ does have something to say, hopefully of value, about life, literature, and the possibilities of a given moment. Honestly, I think there is something almost parabolic about it, as well, although that wasn’t my intention at the outset.

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‘The Englishman and the Butterfly’

Cover image for 'The Englishman and the Butterfly' by Ryan AsmussenOxford fellow and John Milton expert, Professor Henry Fell, suffers from panic attacks and a gnawing fear that what he doubtfully refers to as his existence is much more out of his control than he realizes.

Newly arrived in Boston on an academic fellowship, Fell meets a variety of people who, in one way or another, expose him to true love, true death, and true poetry: the lovely and sharp-tongued Julia Collins, a Ph.D. candidate struggling to survive in a male-dominated world, fellow Brit Professor Geoffrey Hearne, one of the University’s most popular and colorful lecturers, and the rather less-than-popular, equally British, Professor Christopher Moberley, whose vast bulk contains the darkest of secrets.

A coming of middle-age story, a metaphysical parable, a glimpse into literature from the inside-out, ‘The Englishman and the Butterfly’, is a tragicomic look at the differences between imagining a life, performing one, and becoming enlightened to the possibility that there is more to life than meets a reader’s eye.

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‘The Englishman and the Butterfly’, has already received glowing advance reviews, ahead of its publication on Ist October 2012, which will be the culmination of several years ‘labour of love’ for its author, followed by a monolithic struggle (Ryan’s own turn of phrase), whilst he agonised over the decision whether or not to self-publish, which is what he has ultimately decided to do.

The decision to self-publish, though it may seem like the harmless choice of an author continually, woefully rejected by agents, is not, in fact, an easy one to make. There is something – and I know you know this – called ‘the writer’s ego’ that stands monolithically between the struggling artist (for that’s what most of us believe, hope, we are, ‘artists,’ though we know for sure we struggle) and a vision of fame and financial stability we can barely make out beyond the peaks of our dogged perseverance.

For me and thousands of other writers like me the path to self-publishing has been paved with stones of anger, perhaps tears, and more than a little bitter self-recrimination. There is a reason it used to be called ‘vanity publishing.’

That is certainly some synopsis, from a work of literary fiction, which is sure to stretch my intellect to its extreme!

I only hope that my amateur blog and review techniques are up to the challenge of this intriguing and alluring storyline.

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As this was an author invitation to read and review, a PDF of  ‘The Englishman and the Butterfly’, was sent to me free of charge, by its author Ryan Asmussen.

This will in no way influence any comments I may express about the book, in any blog article I may post. Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article.

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Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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13 comments
    • Hi Kathy,

      A recent report in the press, over here in the UK, states that you now officially don’t hit middle age until you are 55 ….. So, I am just about officially YOUNG!!!

      The problem is, I can so relate to the issues that Professor Henry Fell is experiencing, that it is quite frightening!

      I can’t wait to get started on this book and thanks for stopping by with your comment.

  • This one sounds good, I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to yoru thoughts on it Yvonne. Your reviews are always marvelously written and well thought out, like a pro 🙂

    • Hi Naida,

      The synopsis is certainly very intriguing for this book and I was especially interested in the fact that Ryan has chosen to centre his story around three English Professors, living and working in the US … I just wonder why he didn’t choose to have US Professors at the heart of the story? … I really must remember to ask Ryan about that specific point!

      Thanks for your kind comments, I always appreciate the time you spend visiting.

    • Hi Linda,

      I suspect that this is going to be quite a challenging book, both to read and to review. From reading Ryan’s blog posts alone, I am anticipating that ‘The Englishman and the Butterfly’, is a work of quality literary fiction, which is going to stand up to substantial scrutiny.

      The synopsis is quite intriguing, with the four principal protagonists, having totally disparate characters, the combination of which is going to make for some interesting and hopefully entertaining reading.

      It is always good to hear from you, hope you are well and thanks for the comments.

    • Hi Vicki,

      I too, have had occasional panic attacks and the feeling that my life is completely out of control, so I can sympthise with both yourself and the character of Henry Fell, in the book.

      It will be interesting to see just how Ryan handles an evolving situation, when circumstances presumably cause Henry to have to face his demons … because I certainly haven’t managed to find any answers yet!

      Thanks for stopping by and for your candid and open comments, your thoughts are always appreciated.

    • Hi Tracy,

      I must admit that I am expecting this book to be quite a deep and meaningful read, definitely not a piece of work to be taken lightly.

      Apart from discovering just how Henry manages to face up to his demons, I am completely intrigued by the character of Professor Moberley, who sounds like quite a force to be reckoned with … I wonder exactly what ‘dark’ secrets he is hiding and what impact they will have on the rest of the group?

      Thanks for stopping by, your comments are always welcome and appreciated.

  • Hi, Yvonne, and all,

    This morning I was Googling myself to see if I could find an old article of mine, when I happened upon this page. To say I was delighted would be an understatement. Yvonne, thank you so much for writing so thoroughly about me and the book, and, commenters, thank you for taking such an interest. The book is officially out on Amazon KDP and, as Yvonne was good enough to post, is available through my website, listed here.

    There are a few reasons why I chose the ‘Englishmen’ —

    1) I have a passionate love for your country, its history, its institutions, its people. If given the choice to have been born anywhere, I wouldn’t hesitate a moment to say ‘England.’ In many ways, it’s dearer to me than my own America, and, for as long as I can really remember, I’ve viewed myself through its many lenses.

    2) The characters are somewhat based on existing professorial “Englishmen”. I won’t say more (smile).

    3) The concept of the ‘Englishman’ as a literary understanding (i.e., an ‘English-man’, one involved with the language) is very important to the overall idea of the novel, as I hope readers will see.

    Henry’s anxiety is also central. In the end, though he doesn’t manage to overcome it entirely, he does understand it better, as he does his own life and his place in it. Hopefully, his panic attacks are written truthfully as well as compellingly.

    As for sad, frightening, doomed Professor Moberley, I look forward to seeing what you make of him. To that end, readers, please let me know what you think when/if you’ve read the book. Stop by my website, leave a comment. Post a review on Amazon. I’d love to build a base of people who enjoy the novel well enough to look forward to another one from me.

    Cheers, all!
    Ryan

    • Hi Ryan,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by, read the post and comments from my lovely fellow bloggers, and most of all, for leaving feedback.

      It always evokes the feeling of utmost satisfaction, when an author takes a few moments to appreciate a post and its responses and whilst many authors will forward personal emails, few take the trouble, or wish to participate, in an ongoing conversation on a reader’s blog.

      You have really intrigued me now, by mentioning Professor Moberley in the way that you have, I can’t wait to find out what fate awaits him!

      I am so pleased that Henry manages to bring his anxiety phobia under some kind of management. Panic attacks come in so many guises and with such varying levels of intensity, that it would be very difficult to pinpoint any one trigger or cure, so I am certain that each of us will see something of our own syndrome in your analysis.

      I am also more than intrigued about the premise that your English characters are somehow based on existing Englishmen. I can’t wait to see who they are and I am going to be most annoyed with myself if I don’t recognise them now!!

      A recent report has stated that London is the most cosmopolitan city in the world and whilst I welcome and embrace the diversity of the many nationalities and customs which this brings into the country …. I do have make clear that I am proud to be English, although by definition and necessity alone, I now have to declare myself officially British. We have much to be proud of in this country, not least our Monarchy, and there really isn’t anywhere else in the world that I would rather call home.

      Thank you once again and I hope that sales of ‘The Englishman and the Butterfly’ are going well, after the official publishing.

  • Hi, Yvonne,

    As your own Dr Johnson wrote, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” That about sums it up (smile)…

    You’re very much more than welcome: I’m thrilled to talk to anyone interested in talking to me about the novel.

    Please keep me posted via email re anything you think I’d like to hear about. It seems certain that if any comments follow our exchange, I’ll receive an email, but just in case…

    I really look forward to your review.

    Cheers,
    Ryan

Written by Yvonne

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