MixedColumbia JournalThe strongest bits of her book [are] at the beginning and end, where Ryan’s tongue cuts with unstoppable wit on broad subjects related to writing ... Although the writing in Synthesizing Gravity is objectively strong, Ryan’s tone and approach can often isolate. A reader likely cannot penetrate the world Ryan inhabits ... the reader feels she is standing on the fringe of a cocktail party conversation on a rarefied subject that interests her, but that she cannot quite grasp ... In a way, Ryan does not care if the reader understands or enjoys ... this work may not land with every reader ... they will not all be fond of her crotchety distaste for the writing community and obsessive love of long-gone poets ... Readers are fine to dive into Ryan’s essays without fear of not knowing everything, to be simply nodding along on the edge of the circle of partygoers and hopefully attaining something in the process. In fact, it seems to be exactly what Ryan wants.
PositiveThe Columbia Journal... unafraid to be simultaneously humorous, intimate and insightful ... A joy of the novel is how fervently it throws the reader into the life of the writer and their community ... at once small yet also incredibly big ... not a book tied up with an elaborate bow but rather a parcel knotted with a string, something ordinary yet exquisite in its representation of love and life.
RaveColumbia Journal... a heart-wrenching tale that unfolds and unravels across 400 pages and more than a decade of love, loss, and pride ... Douglas’s sharp narrative perspective moves from character to character, depicting each internally and externally with astute grace, giving a complex understanding of the dynamics of the Bain family ... Readers stay hooked to see which, if any, characters will get what they want, often receiving heart-breaking results ... The circumstances are so vividly rendered, heightening the state of turmoil and desire ... a master class in depicting the blinding dedications of love and the endless bounds to which people will go to feel in control, to feel better. It hopefully sets the tone for more beautifully devastating works of fiction to follow from Stuart in the future.