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Adam Levin: Hot Pink

Adam Levin’s 1,000-page metafiction monstrosity of 2010, The Instructions, is a hard act to follow, but McSweeney’s has released the author’s latest effort, and it leaves you just as pleasantly stunned–at one-fifth the length. Hot Pink is a collection of 10 pithy stories set in and around Chicago. The book follows fascinating characters wielding obsessive tendencies so intense that the cast might fit right in on Bridezillas or A&E’s Hoarders. Levin’s people are also just bizarre: a father compulsively building a doll to cure anorexia, butane-huffing high schoolers, love-struck thugs, a legless lesbian genius. It’s hard not to become entranced by Levin’s sentences, which combine conversational syntax and poetry: “Joe’s lean and even, like a long Bruce Lee. He comes to all kinds of points. And plus his eyes. They’re a pair of slits in shadow.” As an added bonus, the author indulges his own obsessive thoughts by letting characters digress into captivating philosophical daydreams before floating back to Earth. Aside from the eccentric personalities and master craftsmanship, what ties these stories together is a borderline-absurdist reality driven by luck—mostly bad luck, which makes for a thrilling and sometimes dark read. In Levin’s hands, fiction explodes again and again into something endlessly enchanting and delightfully unexpected.