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`Alice' tasteless yet terrific

Author Steven Ryniak uses creative, dirty sarcasm in outlandish manuscript

Steven Ryniak's first book "Dear Alice . Rejected Letters to Advice Columns From Completely Insane Idiots," is not your typical manuscript by any stretch of the imagination.

Ryniak, 26, began writing the book's fictional letters about five years ago to "stave off the furiously pacific onslaught of ennui while sitting in lecture halls and classrooms as a student at Towson University in Maryland five years ago," a press release said. Somehow, not surprisingly, Ryniak didn't graduate.

With letters that start with "I was visiting my Uncle's farm up in Sporkville last week and had sex with one of his chickens, and now I think it's pregnant" and "Me and my buddy Skipper smoked so much kind-bud yesterday that we went back in time," it's impossible to guess where Ryniak will go on the next page.

In an e-mail interview, Ryniak said "Dear Alice" was inspired by the book "Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey, but the individual letter topics were all his own.

"Basically, my tiny, warped mind came up with all the ideas and scenarios," Ryniak said. "To be honest, at the time I started writing the book, I think I was probably huffing a lot of turpentine, nail polish remover, freon, kerosene, butane and carpet cleaning spray. Also wood varnish. But my memory is a little foggy from that whole period, and it could be that I was just really tired or had mono or something."

Having written such an outlandish book, one might wonder what Ryniak spends his free time reading. A safe guess would be Mad magazine or The Onion.

"The books that I read probably are not what you would expect - as a writer, I read mainly for the knowledge-base and to reference from, and for ideas - right now I'm reading classics like Dante's `Divine Comedy' and Milton's `Paradise Lost' and James Joyce's `Ulysses,' he said. "Modern day, I like to read Stephen Hawking and books by other physicists."

Though "Dear Alice" is well written and creative, Ryniak did not always want to be a writer.

"When I was really little, I wanted to be either Luke Skywalker or a Ghostbuster when I grew up," Ryniak said. "Many years later, when I came to the realization that I most likely could be neither one, the impact was horribly staggering, and I'm still recovering from it. Those scars may never heal."

The questions posed to advice columnists in "Dear Alice" do not come with answers or solutions because Ryniak doesn't give good advice.

"My one friend from work was upset because his dog died, and I told him he should probably kill himself, and if I was him, that's what I would do," he said. "Well, that advice turned out to be horrible, and it made him feel even worse. I'm not very good at giving advice. Only asking for it."

"Dear Alice" was originally scheduled for release in November, but the release date was pushed back and it has been in stores since Feb. 26. "Dear Alice" can be found online at, and, for a measly $8.95, it will tickle your sickest funny bone and pervert your sense of moral decency.

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This is not a book for the politically correct, faint of stomach or conservative people of the world. It's for those special individuals who can handle skanky humor and dirty sarcasm. If you can't take a joke, stick with your thick copy of "War and Peace" and leave the laughter for the rest of us.


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