“At dusk he came limping from the ethered shadows.”
So begins Ryan Ireland’s debut novel Beyond the Horizon, the tale of a man on an arduous journey across frontier America, urged on by the arrival and advice of a shape-shifting stranger.
Blending narratives and playing with concepts of time, Ireland tells a brutal, twisted tale of an imagined, metaphorical American West that will remind readers of Blood Meridian author Cormac McCarthy.
“I’ve read so much [McCarthy], I think his work can’t help but have some type of influence on my writing,” Ireland said.
Born and raised in Dayton, OH, Ireland studied English at Wright State University for both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He is currently completing his Ph.D. in Composition and Rhetoric at Miami University in Oxford. He’s also in charge of the Publicity and Marketing Office at Greene County Public Library, and is a strong advocate for public libraries around the country, which befits his upcoming appearance at the Sanger Branch library on April 29.
A tale of multiple voices
Overall, the focus of Beyond the Horizon is the intertwined stories of the nameless characters of the man, the stranger, and the Indian, and as Ireland explained, “is about adopting more than one perspective and our reluctance to actually view the world as something that has more dimensions than just ‘where I’m standing right now.’
“We tend to be self-centered. We tend to believe that everybody is thinking about us all the time. Most of the time, there are many other things going on in the world, and we’re not that important,” he said.
Ireland explores this theme through the main character’s journey. “The only control the man gets is by walking. And we see that the stranger thwarts a lot of that. The stranger is setting up these things that he is literally walking into. And the man is completely dumb to it. He doesn’t see it.”
“We always tend to look toward the future with these rose-colored glasses. Then when it gets here, we don’t like it so much. One of the paradoxes of time is the future is never here.”
“I like [writing about] the West because it is naturally imbued with those types of themes. You can talk about expansionism, subjugation, instilling political systems over natural systems . . . the Western genre has a tradition, a certain way that it works, and I like subverting that tradition,” Ireland explained. “When you talk about ‘the man’ character, you’re talking about the universal. It’s an allegory. Salvation for this man would be salvation…for everybody.”
As the novel states, “Our destiny always lays just beyond the horizon.”
Toledo Lucas-County Public Library’s Open Book series will present Ryan Ireland. 6:30pm, Wednesday, April 29. Sanger Branch Library. 3030 W. Central Ave., 419-259-5370. Free.