NEW MILFORD, N.J. -- A New Milford man and Hackensack High School teacher will read and discuss his books at the New Milford Library next month.
Christopher Ryan's 2 p.m. book reading will feature two books that he published this year: "Genius High" and "City of Pain."
"Genius High," a young adult horror story that explores the pressure of PARCC testing on students (SEE: Hackensack Teacher's Novel Satirizes Readiness Tests ).
“Everyone in the high school becomes a genius, and some people can’t handle it.” The understory, Ryan said, “is about how we’ve gone test crazy.”
"City of Pain" is part of a trilogy of books that are police thrillers loosely woven around classic works by Dante (SEE: New Milford Author Offers Free Copies Of New 'City Series' Thriller ).
“They are modern police suspense novels, but each follow a part of Dante’s 'Divine Comedy',” he said.
“You don’t have to be a scholar to follow the ‘City’ books. If you know a little about the literature, you’ll find a lot of Easter eggs.”
Ryan, who grew up in the Bronx, developed a familiarity with crime as a reporter with several Bronx and New York newspapers.
“I covered crime and politics, which were sometimes the same thing,” he said. “During the crack wars of the 80’s, we used to run body counts on the front page.”
Ryan became disheartened, and applied for a job as a New York cop. But a school superintendent he knew bet him a steak dinner that if he took a teaching job, he’d never work as a cop.
Needless to say, the steak was Ryan's for the taking.
“Suddenly I was in a building of kids the same age as the corpses I was reporting on — and they were so alive and glorious,” Ryan said.
Ryan says there will be more in the "Genius High" series as soon as he finishes "City of Love."
In the meantime, he enjoys teaching “live kids” at Hackensack High School, and hopes everyone will join him on Jan. 9 in the library at 200 Dahlia Drive.
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