Check Out These
21 Books You’ve Been Meaning to Read
See the List

The Dream Life of Astronauts

  • Paperback $16.00

    Aug 01, 2017 | 272 Pages

  • Hardcover $26.00

    Jul 05, 2016 | 272 Pages

  • Ebook $13.99

    Jul 05, 2016 | 272 Pages

Product Details

Get news about books and more from Penguin Random House

Praise

“Quietly commanding . . . a very funny and touching collection of nine short stories that take place in the 1960s and ’70s around Cape Canaveral . . . In some profound way, every one of the characters in The Dream Life of Astronauts has failed to lift off in life. They’re dud rockets, fizzled-out fireworks, and, yet, [Patrick] Ryan—our author at the helm in mission control—doesn’t let us readers give up on them. Instead, he pushes every button here to make sure that we root for these screw-ups, stranded out on their launch pads under the Florida sun. . . . The title story, ‘The Dream Life of Astronauts,’ is the best new short story I’ve read in light years. . . . A wry and smart collection—a beam of intelligent life from an author who clearly likes to probe the outer edges of the familiar.”—Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air

“[Ryan] displays a gift for excavating the dashed hopes and yearnings that lie beneath. He is especially adept at capturing the point of view of children, with a Salingeresque understanding of their alienation, their vulnerability, their keen powers of observation.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“Ryan is a master of the old-fashioned, captivating storytelling that deceptively reads as effortless. . . . Ryan never actually sends his characters into space; but his orbits of the human heart are enough.”The New York Times Book Review

“Ryan brings a wry sense of intimacy to these dreamers who are always searching for a better life, for something new.”—BBC
 
“Patrick Ryan’s short stories go down lightly—but that doesn’t mean they’re lightweight. In the best of them, Ryan’s transparent prose and seemingly casual tone sneakily ensnare you in tough moments and wryly rueful deflations of the heart and spirit.”The Seattle Times
 
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to appreciate this funny collection of stories set around Cape Canaveral. Moon missions and shuttle launches take a backseat to the earthly predicaments faced by the eclectic cast of Boy Scouts, gangsters, grandmothers and beauty queens. While contemporary fiction often portrays Florida as a big, swampy freak show, Ryan treats these lovable space cadets with affection.”The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
 
“There is humanity and heart in each one of these tales, all rendered with nuance and depth that will leave a mark on your thoughts long past the final pages.”Refinery29
 
“Patrick Ryan’s characters are people who are a little more beaten down than they know. They are not introspective by default, and yet, due to circumstances, they are forced to look into themselves and find something that, in his own phrase, feels like life.”Literary Hub

“Patrick Ryan’s latest, The Dream Life of Astronauts is an exquisitely crafted collection of short stories set in Merritt Island, Florida — better known as the home of Cape Canaveral. . . . But the author’s intimate, character-driven narratives draw their power more from family dynamics than they do launch pads or rocket boosters.”Electric Literature
 
“Ryan has an eye for striking and quirky details that gives the book a rich texture, and allow him to fully inhabit the decades he’s writing in without easy kitsch. . . . The Dream Life of Astronauts is a collection of small and lovely surprises—a book brimming with humor, compassion, and heartbreaks. Ryan’s characters aren’t great American heroes, but the people around the television and in their backyards while the shuttles launch, looking up.”St. Louis Post Dispatch

“The author illuminates [his] characters with pitch-perfect dialogue and period references that capture the various decades in which the stories take place. In the end, he uses a symbol of mankind’s greatest achievement as an ironic yardstick for the more earthbound interactions of his sorrowful characters.”Publishers Weekly
 
“Ryan has a knack for squeezing drama out of seemingly mundane situations. . . . [He] highlights the quirks of ordinary life in a place known for the extraordinary in this sharp and funny collection.”Kirkus Reviews
 
“Ryan is a gifted writer; these stories are artfully constructed, thought provoking, sometimes disturbing, yet often funny. . . . This is a fine, hard-hitting collection.”Booklist

“I loved every single one of the stories in The Dream Life of Astronauts. Patrick Ryan is a very funny, smart, and gifted writer.”—Richard Russo
 
“Patrick Ryan’s stories are comedies that can just as easily be read as tragedies. They are stories of isolated individuals bundled together into the families that define them. They are stories that moved me beyond words.”—Ann Patchett
 
“This is a beautiful collection of short stories about people who have been pushed to the very furthest edges of themselves—which is, of course, where all the interesting things in a human life are. It’s impossible not to love these characters. It’s also impossible not to worry about them as you witness their grasping, hopeful (and sometimes deluded) efforts. You want them to be redeemed, you want them to find connection, you want them to restore their dignity, but—most of all—you want them to be at peace. Patrick Ryan manages to bring each character to a place of epiphany, but without once undermining or cheapening the authenticity of their struggle. This is a writer who knows well both the depths and the possibilities of the human heart.”—Elizabeth Gilbert
 
“Patrick Ryan’s beautiful collection, The Dream Life of Astronauts, is set in the actual shadow of the space program, on Cape Canaveral and Merritt Island in the 1970s and 80s, where people watch the rockets take off from their backyards. It’s a sensitive and heart-wrenching portrait of lives lived up against the glamour and tragedy of space travel, struggling with their own dreams of liftoff and escape.”—Maile Meloy
 
“These stories are filled with so many surprises and with so much yearning that it’s palpable. They’ll launch you right out of your comfort zone. Patrick Ryan has aimed for the stars and made it.”—Ann Beattie
 
“Patrick Ryan may well be the most agile short story writer of our day. The Dream Life of Astronauts proves his dashing dexterity, his canny wisdom, his honest-to-god heart. These stories are centrifugal, each one spinning out and in, from a fixed moment in history to the nearly infinite flukes of desire and destiny. No one captures longing, that dark side of imagination’s moon, like Patrick Ryan.”—Claire Vaye Watkins, winner of The Story Prize for Battleborn and author of Gold Fame Citrus

Looking for More Great Reads?
Download our Spring Fiction Sampler Now
Back to Top