Ryan R. Ennis (Author)
Ennis’s collection of 14 stories reveals him to be a master of the “fiction of the everyday.” His characters are all believable types, folks who seek love or companionship not on the beaches of Southern France or at fashionable Manhattan parties—but in the outskirts of Atlanta, the suburbs of Detroit, the northern towns of Ohio, and in semi-secluded Upstate New York communities.
In Finding Light in the Darkness, you’ll find a series of quiet stories that detail the small, important moments of our lives, from the difference that a new German teacher makes in one high school student’s obstacle-filled life (“Herr Hauptmann”) to the profound change an elderly woman undergoes simply by sitting on a park bench (“Moreland Park”). Which is not to say that these tales are free of menace—they’re not, just as life is not. Consider “Close Encounters of the Male Kind,” whose protagonist, Annette, is saddled with a less ambitious mother and a sister with a penchant for choosing the wrong guys. A responsible college student, Annette tries hard to be noticed by Kenneth, the handsome young man in her literature class. But then there’s this intimidating fellow in a Ford Fusion, cruising the streets of Royal Oak, who seems too concerned about her safety…Annette’s romantic quest draws her into a situation whose outcome she never imagined. Lorna, Annette’s sister, turns up in a major role, in the later story “In a Violent World,” as a wife covering up her loutish husband’s abuse. Will Lorna view meddling neighbor Miles as her savior—or the ruination of her otherwise comfortable lifestyle?
Although the stories deal with sometimes dark realities, Ennis’s work celebrates the coming together of people who find light in the darkness, who overcome the tribulations of quotidian life to do so (see “Two on the Town” and “Glitzy Garb”—another pair of interrelated tales—and “Animal Lover” and “The Unnerving Armchair”); or who fight and ultimately conquer (or at least win small, significant victories over) their personal demons (see “Light in the Darkness”).
Start a story, any story, in this volume, and you’ll recognize the characters—their needs and desires—and be compelled to read the story through to its conclusion. You’ll want to see what happens to these people, and you’ll enjoy the artful way that Ennis puts them through their paces.