Chris Adrian’s resume is one of those that makes you wonder just what the hell you’ve been doing with your time, since apparently other people—like Adrian—have no problem getting stuff done, while you can’t even seem to find time to do the laundry or catch a movie. On top of writing three novels (Gob's Grief, The Children's Hospital, and the forthcoming The Great Night) and a book of short stories (A Better Angel), Adrian is a pediatrician and a student at divinity school. And he's a fellow in something called pediatric hematology-oncology. And he publishes short stories pretty much everywhere. And he was recently named to The New Yorker’s list “20 under 40,” honoring 20 writers under the age of 40 who show “a mastery of language and of storytelling [and] a palpable sense of ambition.” Ambition seems an understatement when it comes to Adrian. I have yet to read his tome The Children’s Hospital, but it was the opening line of that book, which I picked up when I was working in a bookstore, that first turned me on to this writer: “I am the recording angel, doomed to watch.”
In his forthcoming book, The Great Night, Adrian again ventures into the realm of non-human characters with “fairies, a monster, and the ghosts of [the characters’] recently deceased romantic relationships.” In an interview at Work in Progress Adrian tells Rivka Galchen (another on the “20 under 40” list) that he tends “to think of those sorts of characters—angels and ghosts and fetuses and talking bagels—as human in pretty ordinary ways, though it always feels like a tall order to write well enough about them that the reader will see them that way, too.”
While there are some other interesting tidbits about the new book and Adrian's writing, my favorite part comes with this fantastically personal answer:
I had the idea for the novel long before I figured out how to write it or became possessed of the sustained inspiration necessary to bring it out of the realm of daydreams into actual words that other people could read. What brought both of those things about was the disintegration of my relationship with my boyfriend. The novel became a sort of open letter to him about why it was in the universe’s best interest that we get back together, and at the same time it was a sort of weapon of mass emotional destruction aimed, rather angrily, at his heart.
A “sort of weapon of mass emotional destruction”…does it get any better than that?
Extra: A Bookslut interview with Adrian from 2008.
(Thanks, Maud Newton.)
Source: Work in Progress