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Adam Prince

Adam Prince earned his MFA from the University of Arkansas and his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee. His fiction has appeared in The Missouri Review, The Southern Review, and Narrative Magazine, among others.


The men in this collection seethe with something close to rage or desperation or both while remaining recognizably and sympathetically human, and that rare combination makes the experience of reading [this book] feel as dangerous as a knife fight.”

– Michael Knight

"Woman can learn more from these stories than from thousands of issues of Cosmopolitan.”

– Ellen Gilchrist

"These stories scared the hell out of me.”

– Brad Watson



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The Beautiful Wishes of Ugly Men

Ten Things Ugly Men Say


Maybe we can learn to appreciate “the ugly”? If not appreciate, perhaps respect?  There’s a certain respect, at least, that I have for an ugly thing: that ugly blobfish, Jocelyn Wildenstein (a Swedish woman apparently famous for being ugly), and even Scott Rickard’s TED talk — the talk where he attempted to create “The World’s Ugliest Music.”  And Adam Prince’s collection of short stories, The Beautiful Wishes of Ugly Men, like the aforementioned uglies, these stories captivate you with their ugly — that straight, honest, can’t-take-your-eyes-off-it-type ugly.

So, in this little top-ten list, I’ll be a little lazy and a little more honest than usual. For the most part, I’ll let Prince’s finely-tuned characters do the talking.

It seems natural that I start with the pick-up lines:

1.  “I’m a man . . . but if I had to, y’know, switch, then I’d want to look just like you” (98).

2.  “If you want me to—I will unloose the primal me” (155).

3.  “There’s something else in my pants too.  You should see, um, what it is” (74).

4.  “Cashiers do it fast and friendly.  Carpenters do it with wood.  Fishermen do it with their flies down. Basketball, baseball, football players or whatever do it with balls . . .” (143).

Here, listen to my buddy Jocko brag a little?:

5.  Jocko says: “I got an offer from this producer buddy of mine, Bill Boyd, to manage the Steppenwolfe reunion tour.  You remember Steppenwolfe? ‘Born to Be Wild’? Hell yeah, I was.  Sober three years and it bore the shit out of me” (16).

6. Then, Jocko says:  “Wait till Crystal gets here. You’ll love her. Smoking body and she’s got this clit ring . . . I haven’t fucked her yet, y’know, because when I’m in a relationship I’m in it, but now, you know, now . . .” (16).

7. Jocko slaps the table, waves around his beer, and says: “did I tell you I’ve got this whole other name? Yeah, I’m really someone else, man.  Kyle Windward.  My real mom’s part Chippewa Indian.  I found out all about her.  I could stalk her or whatever.”

Here, let’s move to some other acquaintances of mine: 

8. Says Keener:  “I’m . . . on a journey. . . . To find my lost artistic. Vision. I. Took a bus” (140).

9. Says Rod:  “I love my wife! I love my jealous, fundamentalist, social-retard wife!” (106).

10. Says Edwin Edward Holt:  “The whole difficulty . . . arose because she refused me fornication excepting when Jay Leno was on.  Neighbor, I attempted compromise. I taped the program.  But I could just lay there with my hard-on sticking into the air as far as what concerned her” (133).

Hey, listen, I’m doing my best here.  See, here’s a bonus:


On a particularly hard day, when I was actually considering Rogaine for my male-pattern baldness, I sat down to write a very detailed email to Adam Prince.  I told him that his collection The Beautiful Wishes of Ugly Men is imbued with that classic ugly, the type of ugly captured by Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find, Raymond Carver’s Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?, and David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.

Because it is, damn it.  It is.

Then, I pitched him the idea of the Top Ten List, hoping he’d have a quote to share.  And then, he wrote me a nice follow-up email with this to say:

“I don't know if I have a favorite line of dialogue, exactly. The thing about dialogue is that it's so contextual, depends so much on the back and forth exchange. So there are some lines I really like in context that out of context would seem sort of flat or empty. But here's one from “Action Figure” that I like:

“God,” says Kid, “it’s bright in here. Isn’t it bright in here? Probably so the security cameras work better. But you feel like you’re on an operating table. My dad’s a surgeon. He does face transplants. Isn’t that weird? Face transplants? It means you’re one person but you’re actually someone else. My dad has tons of money, but he doesn’t give any to me. No Barbie cars or other cars, either. Hey, let’s go get a Christmas Eve drink.” Kid flashes his money clip to prove how many Christmas Eve drinks he could buy if he wanted to. (54)

I just like the way his mind works here. The shifts that happen from sentence to sentence. They'd seem like leaps to someone more sane, but once you know Kid and how he works, then they all make a kind of sense. And that's so fun. To create and convey what sense means to someone entirely different from one’s self.”

You might also like

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    Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
    David Foster Wallace
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    Tunneling to the Center of the Earth
    Kevin Wilson
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    Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?
    Raymond Carver
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    Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
    Wells Tower
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    A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories
    Flannery O'Connor
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    Winesburg, Ohio
    Sherwood Anderson

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