ISBN 978-1935084-63-1 (cloth)
140 pages: $14.95 (paper)
Named by Buzzfeed Books as one of the “22 Most Exciting Literary Debuts of 2014,” The Dunning Man features anti-heroes who reject society’s rules. Characters from all walks of life—a philosophizing hip-hop star, a college girl trying to make sense of her infatuation with her wild best friend, a black sheep scion disillusioned by his morally corrupt family and friends, and a housewife trying to make peace with the past and her wayward husband. They each exist in the here and now, living for what’s possible and what’s left—not what they’ve left behind. These are powerful tales of truth seekers imbued with larger-than-life personalities and the all-consuming need to find something worth seeking.
The stories in The Dunning Man… are funny, explosive and disarmingly moving… [they] pulse with life, and the men and women who figure in them are real people, regular people, working people. People like you and me. It’s good to read about them again. —ESQUIRE
The mostly Irish American characters in The Dunning Man should know better by now. That they don’t (repeating their trespasses again and again) is what makes them so compelling and all too real. —PARADE
Praise for The Dunning Man
Kevin Fortuna’s complex and compelling characters can’t be separated from the equally rich family drama and surprising twists of his narratives, always the sign of a real writer. I’m in awe of this man’s imagination and this story collection. A wonderful debut.
—Joseph Boyden, Giller Prize winning author of The Orenda and Through Black Spruce
This muscular collection is inhabited by people whose lives are, as one of them puts it, “pinwheeling out of control.” Paralyzed by the past, they can’t picture a future beyond the next drink. If you met them in a bar, you would move to the other side of the room. But when you meet them in this book, you’ll find yourself frozen in your seat, riveted by their train-wreck tales of heartbreak and (almost) dashed hopes. Thanks to Kevin Fortuna’s empathetic and precise portrayals, these stories will linger in your imagination long after the people you meet here have stumbled out into the night.
—Miles Harvey, author of The Island of Lost Maps
These stories are by turns wry and funny, harrowing and heartbreaking. Kevin Fortuna writes with startling clarity and insight about success, hope and longing and about people struggling to do the right thing, and sometimes failing. He writes with his heart and his head and with a sheer ballsy velocity you don’t come across very often.
—Kevin Moffett, author of Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events and The Silent History
The Dunning Man is a collection of relentless and often unsettling stories told with intensity and uncommon skill. With clear, exacting prose Kevin Fortuna presents damaged yet indelible characters grappling with shame, pain, and darkness as they teeter on the brink. One gets the sense that these men and women are only hanging on by a thread, and Fortuna triumphs by refusing to let us look away.
—Skip Horack, Stegner fellow and award-winning author of The Southern Cross and The Eden Hunter
Kevin Fortuna’s people are people written about too little – people on the outskirts, scrapping and scratching, probably not a college degree or reliable job among them. Most often looking for the magic of a big score, as are we all. If they as characters were to be judged by a panel of fictional characters more often seen, the inhabitants of Fortuna’s world might be described by the precious characters out there as bleak and hopeless, dirty and depraved, without prospects, out of place in the world,sad. That’s why I don’t read fiction about precious characters. Fortuna’s people defy life by living, and suck every last breath out of a deflated balloon. They are exhilarating people with fully lived lives, expertly drawn. Fortuna’s people are people you’d want to know, whose lives you may well admire. They may even be you.
—Mark Warren, executive editor of Esquire