In Conversation: Adam Wilson and Peter Mountford
Thursday February 20, 2014
Adam Wilson, author of the forthcoming short story collection What's Important is Feeling, and Peter Mountford, author of the novel The Dismal Science read from and discussed their books.
About What's Important is Feeling (Harper Perennial)
Bankers prowl Brooklyn bars on the eve of the stock market crash. A debate over Young Elvis versus Vegas Elvis turns existential. Detoxing junkies use a live lobster to spice up their love life. Students on summer break struggle to escape the orbit of a seemingly utopic communal house.
And in the title story, selected for The Best American Short Stories, two film school buddies working on a doomed project are left sizing up their own talent, hoping to come out on top—but fearing they won't.
In What's Important Is Feeling, Adam Wilson follows the through-line of contemporary coming-of-age from the ravings of teenage lust to the staggering loneliness of proto-adulthood. He navigates the tough terrain of American life with a delicate balance of comedy and compassion, lyricism and unsparing straightforwardness. Wilson's characters wander through a purgatory of yearning, hope, and grief. No one emerges unscathed.
About The Dismal Science (Tin House Books)
The Dismal Science tells of a middle-aged vice president at the World Bank, Vincenzo D’Orsi, who publicly quits his job over a seemingly minor argument with a colleague. A scandal inevitably ensues, and he systematically burns every bridge to his former life. After abandoning his career, Vincenzo, a recent widower, is at a complete loss as to what to do with himself. The story follows his efforts to rebuild his identity without a vocation or the company of his wife.
An exploration of the fragile nature of identity, The Dismal Science reveals the terrifying speed with which a person’s sense of self can be annihilated. It is at once a study of a man attempting to apply his reason to the muddle of life and a book about how that same ostensible rationality, and the mathematics of finance in particular, operates—with similarly dubious results—in our world.
Adam Wilson is the author of the novel Flatscreen, a National Jewish Book Award finalist, and the forthcoming collection of short stories What's Important is Feeling. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, The New York Times, Tin House, Bookforum and The Best American Short Stories, among many other publications. In 2012, he received The Terry Southern Prize which recognizes, “wit, panache, and sprezzatura” in work published by The Paris Review. He teaches creative writing at NYU and Columbia and lives in Brooklyn.
Peter Mountford’s debut novel, A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism, won the 2012 Washington State Book Award and was a finalist for the 2012 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. His work has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Best New American Voices 2008, Granta, Slate, Boston Review, Salon, and Conjunctions. Born in Washington, DC, he currently lives in Seattle, where he teaches at the Richard Hugo House.