Synopses & Reviews
After his widely celebrated debut, Mr. Peanut,
Adam Ross now presents a darkly compelling collection of stories about brothers, loners, lovers, and lives full of good intentions, misunderstandings, and obscured motives.
A hotshot lawyer, burdened by years of guilt and resentment, comes to the rescue of his irresponsible, irresistible younger brother. An unsettling story resonates between the dysfunctional couple telling it and their listening friends as well. A lonely professor, frequently regaled with unbelievably entertaining tales by the office handyman, suddenly fears he’s being asked to abet a murderous fugitive. An awkward but nervy adolescent uses his brief career as a child actor to further his designs on a WASPy friend’s seemingly untouchable sister. A man down on his luck closes in on a mysterious, much-needed job offer while doing a good turn for his fragile neighbor, with results at once surreal and hilarious. And when two college kids goad each other on in an escalating series of breathtaking dares, the outcome is as tragic as it is ambiguous.
Laced with glimmers of redemption, youthful energy, and hard-won wisdom, these noirish stories unspool purposefully and fluidly; together they confirm the arrival of—as Michiko Kakutani put it in The New York Times—“an enormously talented writer.”
"This competent if unspectacular collection from Mr. Peanut author Ross lacks a standout, with each tale only fitfully coming alive, usually when the plot turns cruel. In 'Futures,' an unemployed man goes for a series of progressively stranger job interviews while also coming to the aid of a neighbor, both to crushing results. In 'The Rest of It,' a maintenance man's story of a crazy night out leaves an academic with a moral quandary and an excuse to speak to his ex-wife. 'When in Rome' is a mini-epic of betrayal, and 'Ladies and Gentlemen' is the story of a married woman flying cross-country to meet a man 'she'd kissed in college nearly two decades ago.' 'In the Basement,' the most memorable of these dark pieces, is an existential horror story triggered by a Christmas card. There are crisp turns of phrase a character in 'Futures' likens his walking around with a fat wad of cash in his pocket to 'how a camel must feel about his hump' and some memorable images, but the stories tend to ramble and too often depend on long stretches of characters talking or reminiscing to advance plots. While Ross is clearly talented, the short story isn't his mátier. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Riveting and affecting -- the work of an author who has the rare ability to mesmerize and move us...Suspenseful, humorous and, at times, noirish, [Ross] crafts smooth sentences and can make you laugh out loud without ever undermining or selling out the poignancy of his stories...Irresistible." San Francisco Chronicle
"Masterfully constructed...Skillful but never showy, [Ross's] highly polished, somewhat spare prose...gives these stories a beauty and clarity that are strangely at odds with [their] grim vision...Ladies and Gentlemen is a book that bears, even demands, rereading." Chapter 16
"Traditional stories, written in precise and plainspoken prose...What makes them electrifying is the author's knack for luring his characters into emotional danger...Ross may yet rehabilitate the term 'literary thriller.'" The Boston Globe
"Irresistible...Ross' stories, entertaining and even slick on the surface, have troubling undercurrents that drag the reader out into uncharted waters...[they] take hold early and don't let go: it's almost impossible to start reading them and not need to finish." The Columbus Dispatch
"Dazzling and brutal...a joy-ride through [Ross's] dark but sparkling imagination....[He is] as skilled at telling as he is at showing [the] frightening but relatable machinations of jealousy, laugh-out-loud bouts of gore, and the emotional elasticity that comes from isolation or the absence of love...He is a ruminative writer with an arsenal of explosives always at the ready." The Daily
"Old-fashioned, almost O. Henryesque tales that point up Mr. Ross's extraordinary gifts as a writer...Not only does [he] possess glittering powers of description and a heat-seeking eye for emotional and physical detail, but he's also able to capture the way people talk today with fluency and panache [and] is adept at showing the day-to-day stresses and consolations of marriage and mapping the mutations of love over time." The New York Times
"Bitingly funny...Ross limns the ills of contemporary Americans, so vividly rendering their problems and anxieties that the effect is unnerving and heartbreaking...It is the precision of [his] dark and dazzling prose, often laced with a touch of the surreal, that generates the stories' intensity and makes them so disquieting." Booklist
"Following his dazzling debut, Ross drops seven more doses of disquieting fears and misleading hopes [in] this fierce collection...One of Ross' great strengths is walking that eternally fine line between showing the reader things and the heartbeat monitoring of a character's internal life...These characters are either untethered by their own vividness or weighed down with all the trouble in the world. In either case, it's impossible to look away." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
Following his celebrated debut novel, Mr. Peanut,
Adam Ross presents a stunning collection of stories about brothers, loners, lovers, and young people navigating lives full of good intentions, misunderstandings, and obscured motives.
A hotshot young lawyer, burdened by years of guilt and resentment, comes to the aid of his irresponsible kid brother, only to realize he’s a pawn in a treacherous scheme. A lonely professor, frequently regaled with outrageous tales by the office handyman, suddenly fears he’s being asked to abet a murderous fugitive. A man down on his luck closes in on a mysterious job offer while doing a good turn for his fragile neighbor, but his efforts backfire in a terrifically surreal—and hilarious—manner. And an enterprising adolescent uses his brief career as a child actor to fulfill the crush he has on a friend’s older sister.
Laced throughout with glimmers of redemption and a refreshing combination of warmth and cynicism, these noirish narratives have a youthful energy that belies their hard-won wisdom, and together they showcase one of our truly essential new writers.
About the Author
Adam Ross lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife and their two daughters.