By Maxine Phoenix
Former English Teacher Adrian Van Young brought his book tour for The Man Who Noticed Everything to BB&N, where he read an excerpt from one of the stories in this collection and answered questions from students and faculty regarding his career. Mr. Van Young is currently doing readings and book signings in Massachusetts, before beginning a cross-country tour in New York with his wife, Darcy.
Video by Jake Seidman.
The Man Who Noticed Everything is Van Young’s first published work. It won the St. Lawrence Book Award in 2011. The book is a collection of seven short stories, mostly taken from his senior thesis at Columbia and since revised or rewritten almost completely.
“I like the term ‘radical revision,’” Mr. Van Young remarked during the Q&A session. Minutes before, he finished reading an excerpt from one of the stories, “The Albino Deer.” That story specifically, he said, was rewritten five times from the ground up until he was satisfied.
Van Young was inspired by the Hollywood Film Noir era for part of the collection. The rest of the stories are a mix of “almost 19th-century style, heavily internal” stories that focus on moral conflict, southern literature, and fairy tales.
Mr. Van Young mentioned he likes to set his protagonists “in the outskirts,” both in society and in location. “The Albino Deer” is an example of this. The main character is a young man who is a quarter Cherokee and lives a “boring life” in the middle of nowhere.
The title of the book is taken from one of the short stories, and English Teacher Ms. McNamara remarked, “I was also interested to learn that he liked the selection’s title as his nod to Film Noir.”
Van Young’s reading was attended by faculty and students alike, a representation of the many community members who came to appreciate him during his two years teaching at BB&N.
Judah Burstein ’14, a former student of his, said he particularly enjoys the way Van Young teaches books with an open mind.
“[Van Young] is so cool, funny, and accepting of out-there interpretations of the text.,” Judah remarked. Last year, Judah was especially fond of Van Young’s analysis of The Great Gatsby.
English Department Head Sharon Krauss said, “I was thrilled for him that he had a standing-room-only crowd at his Brookline Booksmith book launch on January 5. What an exciting time for him—publication of first book, national book tour, an upcoming move to New Orleans. I wish him all the best!”
Van Young graduated from Vassar College with a BA in English and received an MFA in fiction from Columbia University. He currently teaches at Boston University and Boston College and is finishing his first novel, a historical fiction work on the life of “spirit photographer” William H. Mumler.
Photo: Mr. Van Young read an excerpt from his story “The Albino Deer.” By Thomas Karol.