The Evening Interviews: Adam Wilson
In the acknowledgements for his new collection of short stories, What’s Important Is Feeling, Adam Wilson admits that his own father considers him “one weird dude.” This should be taken as a compliment, we think, since while some of the material here made our fur crawl, Wilson is ultimately an expert navigator and explicator of the types of emotional and sexual strangeness you human beings are capable of. We chatted with the author about prose techniques and why no one wants to read about attractive people making each other come.
UNI & CHLOE: First lines are important—they’re the snacks that lure you in. And in terms of first lines you, Adam Wilson, are a veritable high-octane genius-machine. “No one knows who slept with her first”; “My grandfather was an old queen, and when he was dying he would grab me through my pants and try to make it hard”; “I’m done being friends with dreadlocked white guys.” Tell us: What’s the recipe for a perfect opening line? Is an opening line like that the initial catalyst for a great story, or does it come later in the process?
ADAM WILSON: I’m not sure if one recipe is better than others, but looking at the three you’ve quoted, mine seems to involve making an extreme statement and then spending the rest of the story trying to justify it. The main thing, for me, is getting the reader interested. We live in such an ADD culture, that every sentence seems like an opportunity to lose the reader. I try to make a big bang at the beginning in order to say, STOP, read this, it’s not gonna be boring, there’s sex in it! I often read my opening sentence to my own cat, Frida, and if she stops destroying furniture or chasing pieces of paper around my apartment in order to listen then I know I’m on the right track.
This is literally an interview between Adam Wilson and two cats and I love it.