I got my hands on Adam Wilson’s new collection of short stories, What’s Important is Feeling, which is filled with his signature combo of adolescent humor and profound depth of emotion. He writes beautiful lines next to very crude ones, and the result is a collection of stories that are hard to look away from, both because you want to know what will happen to the characters, and because you’re taken with the language. Wilson’s first novel, Flatscreen, was about a teenager in a suburb of Boston, and most of these stories are inspired by the same town where both grew up: Newton, Massachusetts. There must be something in that dirty water, based on the dark humor of the books coming out lately.
There are many reasons to read What’s Important is Feeling, but here are my top 9, because why’s it always gotta be 10?
1. It will bring you back to when you day-drank light beer on porches, had a crush on a guy (or girl) in a band and didn’t understand the secret lives of your parents (and vice versa). Never did those things? Read what it would have been like.
2. Author Adam Wilson says “the collection is simply all my favorites.”
3. You’re a Millenial.
4. You want to know what twenty-something guys are really thinking (“I’m not the kind of guy who acts like no means yes even when it does. I try to wear this weakness as a badge of honor” -“Some Nights We Taste Each Other”)
5. This: “Sleep is different for teenagers, more restorative. Now when I dream, my dreams are on the surface; when I wake I only rise inches. In sleep I can still feel the window breeze.” (-“Things I Had”)
6. You will laugh your tuchus off, get watery-eyed and ponder how you ever made it out of your twenties alive (or will) on the same page.
7. A cat dies from eating a condom in “Sluts at Heart.” A couple involves a lobster they name Ralph in foreplay in “Milligrams.”
8. You need to be ready to read what Wilson’s working on now: “A long novel about Wall Street, white hip-hop, and death row” and, he says, “a new story that I think might be the saddest thing I’ve ever written.”
9. Because when I asked “Which is harder for you: a novel or a story collection?” he answered, “Both seem equally impossible at the moment. I’m not sure how I ever managed to finish either.”
You can catch him and some laughs on his book tour here.
Image from Adam Wilson. Top image via GoodReads