CR volunteer Ryan Connair is a taciturn individual. Here at the CR office we know Ryan mostly through the incisive comments he leaves on the manuscripts he’s read and the industrious yet stoic way he plows though the menial work we assign him. We have personally witnessed the man apply over six hundred mailing labels to promotional post cards without uttering a single comment on how Sisyphean the task is. Not a single “couldn’t you just get a helper monkey to do this?” or “I have a master’s degree in professional writing; I just wanted to bring that up.”
Since we know embarrassingly little about Ryan, we’ve decided instead to speculate about him. So, here are three interesting “facts” we’ve gleaned.
- Upon reaching adulthood, Ryan changed his name from Brenton Fosworth to Ryan Connair, an homage to his love of the 1997 film Con Air, starring Nicholas Cage, and his love of television personality Ryan Seacrest.
- Ryan came up with the concept of a bathrobe-like fleece blanket in early 2001, but failed to patent it. A good friend of his betrayed him, however, when he saw Ryan lounging in an early prototype. His friend would go on to found the Snuggie corporation and make millions. Ryan has been embroiled in bitter litigation ever since.
- He’s an astute critical reader who wrote the following analysis of Tom Hopkins’s “Our Libretto Conundrum” (forthcoming next month in issue 8.2) on cocktail napkins during a two-day whiskey drunk.
Ryan Connair: “Our Libretto Conundrum” by Tom Hopkins is about a shepherd. A shepherd who likes to write opera librettos while he’s riding his motorcycle. A shepherd who gets elected president and becomes a transformational figure in American politics. It’s a premise that could go wrong in a lot of ways. I won’t go into the premises behind Hopkins’s two other 8.2 offerings, “Catching the Rollers” and “The Songs Our Local Birds Always Sing,” except to say that they’re equally ridiculous.
These stories work, though, and it’s because of the way Hopkins handles his premises. “Our Libretto Conundrum” doesn’t try to explain how a shepherd could become a national legend. Some of the facts are there—his operas revived the capital city’s economy; he singlehandedly saved a boatful of tourists—but Hopkins doesn’t stoop to trying to make these events believable. The story’s not about that. It’s about the influence a figure like that has on the rest of the nation; about the glut of librettos and the spike in traffic fatalities; about the narrator sitting in traffic and honking his car horn like everyone else.
And that’s what I like about these stories. The Hopkins’s contexts are absurd, but the characters aren’t. They react in perfectly human ways to circumstances that seem perfectly normal to them. The juxtaposition gives Hopkins’s stories surprising emotional weight—only at the last moment does he make you realize that you can change the world all you want, but people stay the same.