Why do we read fiction like that of Adam Levin’s? Is it the provocative whimsy? The surreal and even absurdist tweaks to poignant human moments? Or is it just damn fine writing, considerately fun with hyperactive wit and adventurous wordiness? Yeah, it’s probably all of those reasons.
During the purported nine years it took to write Levin’s debut novel, The Instructions, the author remained prolific with a consistent output of short fiction, which is collected in his most recent publication, Hot Pink. It seems a majority of reviews so far find it difficult to discuss what Levin has accomplished here without giving away story, reviewing the work in the most literal sense. And while the inventive and bizarre plots are certainly a highlight of Levin’s style, there is certainly more to the story. Each short is constructed in a unique degree of Levin’s dynamic range of style, with the beginning half of the collection seemingly more fantastical and complex, with the later pieces concentrated more on realism and believable character voices. But regardless of these variations, all of the stories come from a very similarly honest and transcendent sense of people misunderstanding each other in the grander context of love, loss, and inevitable disappointment.
Whether in the most experimental moments of playful style and dark humor or in the trenches of despairingly realist storytelling, Hot Pink is profound and a strong contender for the top lists of young writers this year.