cover image The Beautiful Wishes of Ugly Men

The Beautiful Wishes of Ugly Men

Adam Prince. Black Lawrence Press, $18.00 (200p) ISBN 978-0-9828766-6-4

The characters that ricochet through Prince's first book, this collection of short stories, are by turn smug, regretful, jealous, disoriented, angry, and optimistic. Throughout he seeks the coupling of despicable actions and intentions, mining that seedy side of humanity only faintly illuminated by the stubborn hope that we have the power to transcend such ugliness. Prince's stories are both entertaining and insightful, set among strip clubs and marital malaise ("Big Wheels for Adults"), featuring drug addled do-gooders ("Action") and bashful pedophiles ("Island of the Lost Boys"): emotionally- and psychologically-stunted men who long for their mothers to make them good again. However, though the men in his stories are fully rendered, the women tend to be sketches in comparison and at times leave much to be desired. In the midst of Prince's mildly depraved imagination, any morals are, at best, vague, but the stories' best moments hint at, in his words, "Something about how all men deserve punishment just for being what we are." (June)