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.
RYAN 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.
‘The Englishman and the Butterfly’
Oxford 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.
‘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.
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.