WUSTL alum Adam Ross returns to talk about writing for Assembly Series

Ross to read from debut novel, Mr Peanut

Writer Adam Ross has a website where he blogs about his experiences, including a list of “secrets” to becoming a serious writer. No. 6 on his list: “Go hear writers speak whenever possible. Or at least go here (sic) them read.”

Ross’s advice can be taken literally at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19, when he reads from and discusses his new novel, Mr. Peanut (2010), in the Women’s Building Formal Lounge. The Assembly Series/Neureuther Library Lecture is free and open to the public, and is sponsored by University Libraries and the Writing Program in Arts & Sciences.

Ross, who earned a master of fine arts degree in 1994 from Washington University’s Writing Program, took advantage of the great authors who visited the WUSTL campus while a graduate student. He remembers attending these events and even picked up some of his “secrets” while listening to the likes of William Gaddis and Carlos Fuentes, such as this from Gaddis: “Don’t write to pay rent” and “Trust idleness.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College, Ross earned a master’s degree from Hollins University, and then the MFA from WUSTL, both in creative writing. From 1995-99, he was a features writer and editor for the Nashville Scene, where much of his nonfiction has been published, as well as appearing in NFocus, P.O.V., and Jungle Law. His fiction has appeared in The Carolina Quarterly.

Many years in the making, Mr. Peanut is a labyrinth of opposite emotions: love and hate, sentimentality and ridicule, tragedy and comedy. Like an M.C. Escher drawing, they are stories within stories within stories; like an Alfred Hitchcock film, the stories center on themes of trust and betrayal. And like his teacher and mentor, Stanley Elkin, PhD, who taught at WUSTL from1960 until his death in 1995, Ross’ stories contain heavy doses of dark humor (From Elkin: “All comedy is rooted in powerlessness”).

For additional information on this program and on upcoming Assembly Series events, visit assemblyseries.wustl.edu, or call (314) 935-4620.