“I would like you to write a simple story just once more,” says the father. “…Just recognizable people and then write down what happened to them next.”

The old man is eighty-six, bedridden – beseeching! – but the daughter of Grace Paley’s “A Conversation with My Father” cannot honor this last request, cannot plot an unswerving line or knot every narrative thread: Everyone, real or invented, deserves the open destiny of life.

The moment a body loses contact with the ground, moving into air, moving into water, it must immediately account for the paces and drags of that new medium. Pamela Ryder’s debut, Correction Of Drift (FC2, 2008), addressed this concept both literally and practically: structured as a “novel-in-stories,” the book triangulated on the Lindbergh kidnapping, borrowing navigational principles and a well-rutted American narrative to ground her challenging, lyric flights. Compiling fifteen stories that largely (or entirely) predate that first full-length, A Tendency To Be Gone presents an artist unmoored, ascending exultant heights while demonstrating the perils of dead reckoning, where a miscalculation multiplies upon itself and leads progress further and further off-course.