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Ryan Dennis

Ryan Dennis is the son of a New York dairy farmer and a literary writer whose early essays were originally published in Progressive Dairyman.

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The first adult book I read was Riding for the Brand by Louis L’Amour. I was 12. Afterward, I read anything with cowboys, guns and a high sense of justice, writing book reports on Zane Grey and pushing aside homework for Larry McMurty.

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Tristan told me to come to Dublin that weekend and bring my boots. He had gotten the allotment. He had been on the list for more than a year, and it was finally his. Tristan said the word again, as if it was the grandest thing he knew: The Allotment.

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It wasn’t long after we left Wells and set out into the lifeless gravel that I realized I underestimated the amount of water I should have carried. Even before I ran out, I became faint. Not wanting to validate the danger of the situation, I let Paul go ahead of me while I dug out a few energy bars.

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We froze when we heard the screaming. My girlfriend’s father had gone ahead to bring the car around while she, her mother and I waited by the door of the restaurant. He shrieked as if in the greatest pain of his life. The women ran toward him.

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“Man, I just need 11 dollars. I lost my bus ticket and I need to get home to see my family. Must have fell out of my pocket, you know? I just need 11 dollars, man.”

He shifted on his feet as he pleaded. He made a show of impatiently looking back toward the ticket counter.

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“Tennessee Williams lived in this house,” the landlord said. She was a quiet woman in her 60s who had tried to shut the door on me, having explained that she wasn’t showing the room today. I handed her the check and said I was desperate and would take it sight-unseen.

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