Blog Posts

Letter to My Former Student

November 9, 2016 Dear X, As you can imagine, I’m pretty busy most days here at [school], and, sadly, I’ve been looking at your letter on my desk for too long now , waiting for a time to write a grateful reply. Today, however, is the day after the Presidential election, and, today, I feel […]

Windy City Review’s Review of Englishman

Windy City Reviews | by Marie Becker, October 1, 2013 The Englishman and the Butterfly is an undeniably ambitious book, firmly enmeshed not only in literary references, but also in a distinct aesthetic sensibility. Asmussen is a published poet and English teacher, and the heft of this book comes primarily from the loving use of language and […]

Fiction Books’ Review of The Englishman

Fiction Books | Review of The Englishman and the Butterfly by Ryan Asmussen, June 4, 2013 MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THE BOOK “The quality of the person will determine the quality of the happiness.” “Whatever you see around you, whatever holds and loves you, is who you truly are.” From the very first sentence of this […]

What Frogger Can Tell Us About Reading Shakespeare…

 [A repost from my Shakespeare blog, “Shakescene“] I’ve found, in the course of more than a decade teaching Shakespeare, that AP Lit students still balk on occasion (more than) when it comes to consistently reading the textual notes. Some feel the effort it takes to read the text and then to read the notes is simply too […]

Shannon McCloskey Allain Interview – Part 3

[Part 3 of 3 of an email interview — see McCloskey Allain’s long review of ENGLISHMAN] The central theme of the novel seems to be the question of free will, how much control we have over our destinies, if any, and the acceptance of the mystery of our condition. Each character has his or her own take […]

Shannon McCloskey Allain Interview – Part 2

[Part 2 of 3 of an email interview — see McCloskey Allain’s long review of ENGLISHMAN] The symbol of the butterfly appears through the book in various manifestations such as death (departed soul), freedom from torment (Moberley’s view), and change in course of Henry’s life and outlook. Perhaps you mean it to be a symbol for life […]

Shannon McCloskey Allain Interview – Part 1

[Part 1 of 3 of an email interview — see McCloskey Allain’s long review of ENGLISHMAN] Is the novel’s plot mirroring a particular Shakespeare tragedy? Even the spots of comic relief (Henry’s interrogation & the graveyard conversation with Randy) reminded me of a Shakespeare play.  You’re very right to sense this. There’s no exact plot-to-plot […]

Shannon McCloskey Allain’s Review of ENGLISHMAN

REVIEW of Ryan Asmussen’s The Englishman and the Butterfly by Shannon McCloskey Allain Why aren’t more thrillers set within the gray-stoned, ivied walls and stately, dusty-shelved libraries of academia? With their insular, analytical worlds, temporarily suspended from reality in the name of developing intellectual over practical experience, combined with egos, professional hierarchies and conflicting ideas, such […]

Review of Midge Raymond’s “Forgetting English”

Former colleague, good friend, and one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet, Midge Raymond is also the author of a lovely, smart, touching collection of short stories entitled Forgetting English, winner of the Spokane Prize for Short Fiction. I wanted to take this posting opportunity to share my delight with her stories in an effort to keep spreading […]