Fiction Points: Adam Wilson

Adam Wilson

Adam Wilson founded and edits the online newspaper The Faster Times and is a regular contributor to The Paris Review Daily. His fiction and nonfiction have found publication in numerous journals and magazines from The Paris Review and Meridian to the New York Times. Wilson contributed to the anthologies Dirty Words: A Literary Encyclopedia of Sex (2008); A Friday Night Lights Companion: Love, Loss, and Football in Dillon, Texas (2011); and Promised Lands: New Jewish-American Fiction on Longing and Belonging (2010). His first novel, the comic and bittersweet Flatscreen (2012), follows its young male protagonist through stoner slacking and drug-fueled antics as he fumbles toward establishing a post-high school identity. The National Jewish Book Council chose Flatscreen as a finalist for the 2013 Goldberg Prize for Outstanding Debut Fiction. Wilson also received the Paris Review‘s 2012 Terry Southern Prize for Humor for his contributions to the publication, including the marijuana-laced “What’s Important is Feeling,” which was selected for publication in Best American Short Stories 2012. He is a graduate of Columbia University’s creative writing MFA program and currently teaches at New York University and the Sackett Street Writers Workshop.

Two nuns and a penguin approach you at a bar, and you tell them you’re a writer. When they ask you to describe Flatscreen, how do you answer?

It’s about an unlikely friendship between a young, spiritually tested nun and a wheelchair-bound penguin who is addicted to Oxycontin and loves hookers.

Points is a blog primarily for drug and alcohol historians. What do you think this audience would find most interesting about Flatscreen?

Well, there’s certainly a lot of drugs and alcohol in the book! There are a lot of great novels about marijuana, cocaine, heroin, meth, and LSD (among others), but I don’t know of any others where the primary drug of choice is Oxycontin. I’m not sure my book sheds too much light on the drug itself–it’s mostly about other things–but if you’re looking for OxyFiction, I’m not sure where else you’d go.

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Fiction Points: Jason Brown

Jason Brown
Jason Brown

Jason Brown is an associate professor in the University of Oregon’s creative writing MFA program and earned his own MFA at Cornell University. The title story from his first collection, Driving the Heart & Other Stories (1999), appeared in Best American Short Stories 1996, and three later works were named among the series’ “100 Other Distinguished Stories” in 1997, 2005, and 2010. His most recent release is the linked story collection Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work (2007). Two stories from that book – “Life During Peacetime” and “Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work” – earned Special Mention in, respectively, the 2008 and 2009 Pushcart anthologies. Brown is the recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Fiction at Stanford University (1996-1998), a MacDowell Colony Fellowship (2002), and a Yaddo Fellowship (2002). His work has appeared in magazines and journals including The Atlantic and Harper’s, among others.  

Two nuns and a penguin approach you at a bar, and you tell them you’re a writer. When they ask you what you write about, how do you answers?

I would say that my writing, and any art worth paying attention to, is about searching for meaning in a post-religious world. That doesn’t mean no one in our world is religious. Religion provides answers. Art is about the search for answers and about the search for a connection to something larger than ourselves. Some might equate the urge to create art with the urge to seek a spiritual life. For me, they are the same instinct.

drivingtheheartPoints is primarily a blog for alcohol and drug historians. What do you think this audience would find most interesting about your work?

My work might offer insights on how addiction functions in people’s lives. Society has many different ways of looking at addiction. The lens at the moment involves seeing addiction as a “disease.” I think the nature of addictions is far more complicated.

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Silk Road, Part Two: Ross Ulbricht vs. The World

Editor’s Note: Today guest blogger Depaulo Vincent Bariuan completes his two-part series on Silk Road, the online drug emporium just recently taken down by federal authorities. Part One focused on the website’s relationship to the cryptocurrency Bitcoin and its users’ efforts to evade government oversight. Today’s entry looks at the online life of Silk Road’s alleged founder, Ross Ulbricht, and asks how a young Ron Paulian might have conceived of online drug sales as an experiment in free-market utopianism.

Despite not knowing much about the anonymous online drug-trafficking website Silk Road beyond what news agencies and blogs have been reporting, the public has quite a bit of knowledge on its owner/orchestrator, 29-year-old entrepreneur Ross William Ulbricht. Operating his website out of what NPR called a “modest” $1,000/month room in San Fransisco, not even those close to him knew what he was doing. He lived with two roommates who only knew him as “Josh,” and reported that Ulbricht mostly kept to his room. His parents claimed ignorance of his online empire, but also remarked that he was “stellar, good person” and “very idealistic.”

In an interview on December 6 of last year, StoryCorp correspondent — and Ulbricht’s best friend — Rene Pinnell asked him about where he wished to be in 20 years. He responded: “I want to have had a substantial positive impact on the future of humanity by that time.”

What we know about Ross Ulbricht is due to the fact that he, much like any other person of his generation, had a substantial digital footprint. His name appears in many places all over social media, and with it many tidbits of the idealism his mother described.

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