Best Road Yet by Ryan Stone


Best Road Yet by Ryan Stone


8.5 x 5.5 paperback, 190 pages

ISBN 9781935708087

Featuring the story "Run Nowhere," First Prize winner of Short Story in the 2009 Press 53 Open Awards

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Praise for Best Road Yet

“Ryan Stone understands the yearnings of people down on their luck, those longings and desires that his characters keep to themselves or tell few people, and he captures their struggles and hopes in prose that’s as incandescent as a floodlight on a dark night. These are compelling and compassionate and heartbreaking stories. I urge you to stop what you’re doing and read them.” — John McNally, author of After the Workshop

"Ryan Stone’s collection of short fiction, Best Road Yet, is a compelling read. Threat is insidious, surprising, modern: blackmail for elder abuse; elder abuse at one’s own hand; loss of worker and friend to immigration laws; loss of son, job, home, love, loss of identity and sanity—and loss of illusion about better times. Characters “fall into things,” feel that “everything normal is elsewhere,” are on a road that “twists and turns back on itself.” Yet in the midst of such loss and isolation, there’s a gentleness that gradually rises and pervades the work. It’s a moment of communication and salvation reminiscent of Raymond Carver. An unlikely hero redeems himself or someone else. The major conflict can’t be resolved, but a sliver of it can be. Eddie, who is just a “slip of the tongue” can’t prevent a rape but he becomes rescuer and comforter. Ted may flee his father’s Altzheimer’s briefly, but he’ll run back. These characters aren’t altruistic, but they’re human, complex, looking for values in a horizon they never reach, and in a past where those values never existed. They bravely try to take a stand and create their own value. Throughout the collection are sharp individual insights and descriptions that are absolutely breathtaking. Stone’s voice is captivating." — R. M. Kinder, author of An Absolute Gentleman 

“The stories in this gripping collection unfold with an authenticity that makes you feel that you have lived them. Reading them is like watching a parade of confused men marching out of formation to an uncertain destination. But you can’t take your eyes off them. Where will they go? Will they ever understand themselves? Tender, wise, and sometimes painful, Best Road Yet will stay with you long after you have read it.” — David Carkeet, author of From Away

"Ryan Stone’s first collection, Best Road Yet, is an exemplar of some of the first, best stories yet in this new century. Alternately tender and brutal in their unflinching look at the best and worst in human nature, these stories take remarkable risks, always surprising us, taking us places we didn’t in the least expect until we realize that, yes, this is exactly what would have happened in such a world—or such a small town—as this. Giving a nod to the traditions begun by such great American masters as Sherwood Anderson in Winesburg, Ohio, and William Faulkner in his fictional town of Jefferson, Mississippi, these stories—many of them set in the fictional town of Wynott, Missouri—explore the lives of both deeply flawed but somehow deeply human characters: two brothers who abandon their elderly father, an Alzheimer’s victim, at a highway rest stop; a young man, witnessing and tacitly participating in a rape, then returning to rescue the victim, whose assaulters have abandoned her, naked and cold, in the dark Missouri woods. Because Stone often chooses characters that we consider both villains and victims all at once, he takes the kind of courageous risks and moves into that same mysterious and terrifying territory as such writers as Ernest Hemingway and Raymond Carver took us. Anyone who admires minimalism at its best, as I do, knows just how difficult it is to write stories this spare and understated, this lyrical in just the right moments, stories that take us, in just a few pages, deeply into the human heart in conflict with itself. Are these the stories of a new American master at the beginning of a distinguished career? Yes. Do they bear a deeper, more complex, reading again and again? Yes, of course. Is Wynott a place we want to visit again and again in story after story? Yes, absolutely. Why not?" — Lex Williford, author of Macauley’s Thumb

“In this, his first collection of stories, Ryan Stone gives us a fast-paced tour of the hearts and minds of men who do not belong in their own  lives, and who, though they know it, remain  surprised by that knowledge. When their choices are fight or flight, they choose the latter, knowing all along it is not possible, knowing they ‘cannot run fast enough to get away.’ Best Road Yet is a masterful collection not only for its vivid and real characters, but also for the possibilities woven through each story that cause us to hope—as the characters’ decisions and lack of decisions lead them along—each new road will be the best one yet.” — Mary Troy, author of Beauties


About the Author

RYAN STONE earned his MFA in fiction from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He has served as the Editor for Natural Bridge: A Journal of Contemporary Literature and the Managing Editor/Fiction Editor for River Styx. He has taught writing for St. Louis Community College, Lewis and Clark Community College, The St. Louis Writers Workshop, Missouri State University-West Plains, and Drury University, and is currently a member of the English Department at Danville Area Community College in Illinois where he teaches composition, creative writing, and literature. His fiction has appeared in numerous publications, including The South Carolina Review, The Madison Review, Whiskey Island Magazine, Wisconsin Review, REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters, and many others.