Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Review: "What's Important is Feeling" by Adam Wilson
What’s Important is Feeling, the second book and first short story collection by writer Adam Wilson has, I gathered from reading the back of the book, all the hallmarks that I find detrimental to some modern short story collections, such as a focus on irony over true emotion, quirkiness over realism and smug exclusionary tone instead of one more inviting. But for some reason, the deeper I got into its slim 198 pages, I ended up liking it quite a bit, for it has a charm that some short story collections today, published by writers who are a little too academic for my tastes do not have. I found the people in these surprisingly straight forward stories at times a little too detached and a little too cool at times, but more often than not, something will happen, outside of the characters perspective, that took me by surprise and left me moved. It’s hard for me to pick out favorites here, since each one is as equally good as the other, so I will do my best to pick out the memorable ones. The first story, “Soft Thunder” about a boy in a band experiencing love, loss and disappointment in close proximity, sets the tone for what’s to come. It is a thrilling profane story, and initializes a theme throughout the book of real world intrusions forcing self-centered male characters to grow up. You find it at the heart of stories like “December Boys Got it Worst” about two stock brokers, on the eve of a collapse trying their best to get laid, and “The Porchies” probably the best story here if you twisted my arm, about a summer house whose perfect balance is disrupted by a female occupant and the threshold of adulthood. It’s a short enough collection so it never outlasts its welcome, and rises above its tired clichés to bring something with a little heart to a crowded table.