INTERVIEWS & ARTICLES
5 QUESTIONS WITH J. ADAMS OAKS
I will never forget my best and worst moment at a reading. I ran this fun series with Margot Bordelon called “RE:Action” for Around The Coyote which took place in their gallery space. The writing was individual reactions to pieces in the current exhibit. This particular night was the show’s grand opening and reception. We used a microphone and stood on a Coca-Cola crate to be visible. Normally, we’d have 20 or 30 people show up, but because there was booze and food, the Wicker Park posers came out of the woodwork and they were so busy schmoozing and scoping the room, they wouldn’t quiet down. We had yell at the top of our lungs. One of our readers almost passed out. I called it the “guerilla reading.” After it was over, I realized if I could survive that scene, I could stand up in front of any crowd and read.
THE J. ADAMS OAKS INTERVIEW
There are always going to be those times of obligation, but in creating new work I have to pass the excitement and energy onto the page, even if that means starting something new and then jumping into something else to keep the momentum up. It took me a long time to realize that everybody else's writing rituals and process were not my own; I had to find what worked for me. Sometimes that means finding something new that day to get to the work, like reading a poem by Hafiz or rereading some of Sula or flipping through "Entertainment Weekly" so that I'm not trying so hard, until my brain just lets go and starts to do what it loves to do.
WHY I FIGHT REVIEW
"As it turns out, it is a great resource, but it’s not a biography. I managed about two years of avoidance for nothing! Instead, it was a fast-paced YA/MG novel that I suspect could have great appeal for young readers who are struggling to find an appealing book. I don’t often find stories like that, and I’m always incredibly excited to be able to recommend one."
WHY I FIGHT REVIEW
Wyatt Reaves, 12 years old at the beginning of this troubling story, relates his teen years, spent manipulated by an adult who lacks a moral compass. From the novel’s beginning and for the next six years, he is the unlikely companion of his Uncle Spade, a grifter, womanizer and salesman with an eye for a quick buck. Wyatt, slow on the uptake, has trouble remembering what day it is but always knows the month and year. He grows into a huge physical presence, but is emotionally just a kid. What he can do is fight ferociously if insulted, comparing himself to the Incredible Hulk. Spade and Wyatt hit the road, collecting cash bets while promoting Wyatt as a bare-knuckle boxer. Wyatt tells readers he’s “only killed 3 times in my life.” Dialogue without quotation marks gives this story a movie-script feel and pulls readers into Wyatt’s confusion. Disturbing scenes of cleaning fish, killing tadpoles and violent brawls pitted against adults mark this work suitable for male reluctant readers who lean toward bloody violence. (Fiction. YA)