Kevin Fortuna | The Dunning Man
If you’re like us, it may have been a while since you read a short-story accumulation much less take pleasure reading one. And why is that? It may be because more and more made-up story, it seems—short stories exceptionally, read like some academic exercise, a term paper due, rather than the product of a lived life.
Which is why we were so pleased to come across the writing of Kevin Fortuna, and to be complicated in The Dunning Man, his wonderful debut short-story collection, out October 19 from Lavender Ink.
(Another Esquire editor and I provided editing for book.) Breaking from the current custom of studious remove and mannered characters in airless settings, the stories in The Dunning Man pulse with life, and the men and women who figure in them are real people, regular people, working people. People like you and me.
And like you and me, they all fuck up, in one way or another, in ways you recognize very well. A guy heads for a weekend in Atlantic City to spend money he doesn’t really have to impress a girl he knows doesn’t really want him.
The younger son of a redneck-mafia clan from upstate New York can’t stop pushing his luck with DUIs, and with his wife. A veteran home from Iraq keeps getting into bar fights. People nurse toxic grudges and doomed attractions that they know are dead wrong for them. And, as the book’s title suggests, the bill always comes due. When it does, the results are explosive, funny, surprising, and disarmingly moving.
We know these people. It’s good to finally read about them again.
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