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Hot Pink Hardcover – March 6, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


The Millions' and Flavorwire's most anticipated books of 2012.

“Adam Levin’s new story collection, 'Hot Pink,' is about how love—family love, romantic love, love between friends—turns us into people we never thought we’d become. Today you’re one person, tomorrow—enter love, and all bets are off. You could turn out to be anybody... Levin is especially adept at capturing the way we sometimes change against our will... In addition to love and lust, there’s plenty of havoc in these stories... there’s an exuberance here that is absent from safer and too often soulless collections... Life in 'Hot Pink' is raw, messy, yet replete with moments of awkward grace.”
The New York Times Book Review

"Readers put off by the enormity of Levin's debut novel, The Instructions (which clocks in at over 1,000 pages), can rest easy—this hilarious, tenderly wrought story collection dazzles without the commitment. In the hands of a lesser writer, Levin's vaudevillian cast of characters--like the legless lesbian prodigy of "Considering the Bittersweet End of Susan Falls" or the titular young woman of 'Jane Tell' who enjoys being punched by strangers--may have come across as pat and sensationalistic. But Levin is interested in how language shapes and limits reality, and he deftly uses his ear for voice to elaborate on these ideas. He also possesses a logician's dexterity when it comes to plotting, nimbly anchoring his linguistic concerns to surprising story arcs. In 'Scientific American,' a financial trader grows increasingly obsessed with determining the reason behind his bedroom wall oozing gel, and in the title story, a self-described Ukrainian "meathead" sees subtext in everything, but laments his inability to gauge words correctly when it matters: 'Like hot pink? For years I thought it was regular pink that looked sexy on whoever was wearing it.' Despite the encumbering instruction-manual frame of 'How to Play The Guy,' Levin's newest cements his position as a writer with the daring and talent to push the boundaries of short fiction."
Publisher's Weekly

"Hot Pink leaves readers wondering what might be lurking nearby, on the verge of uprooting their own lives."
Chicago Magazine

"Each story in this anticipated follow-up to Levin's megalithic debut The Instructions, has its own cracks-fissures in otherwise recognizable realities that expose the hidden aspects of everyday experience."

"From walls that ooze unnameable, unidentifiable gel, through makers of children's dolls designed to mimic the stages of digestive health, to old widowers in retirement looking back over their marriages, Levin manages to find the pathos and humor in living an 'ordinary' existence. Enter his world if you dare!"
The Jewish Times

"Levin has a gift for voice, for creating enticing narrators. Whether it's the elderly, dirty-minded Jewish men of 'The Extra Mile' or the adolescent Italian-American toughs of 'Finch' and the white working-class boys of 'Hot Pink,' these are stories that grab the ear first.”
The LA Times

“Extraordinary and bizarre.”
Chicago Sun-Times

“Levin's writing isn't just clever but smart…it isn't just strange but insightful.”
The Chicago Reader

“Each story is so singular and entirely different that it becomes a joy delving into each strange new world.”

“Levin is a genius wordsmith, constructing unorthodox, language-bending paragraphs steeped in a biting facetiousness.”
Hey, Small Press!

“[Levin] writes tough, funny characters who have honest voices and who see beautiful, awful things happen. He’s also good at writing stories that make you lose track of whether they’re deeply sad or very funny.”
On The Media Blog

“Levin is a writer poised to join the ranks of the best young short-story crafters”
The Daily Beast

“Hot Pink is gritty. It’s sharp and it’s flashy—and most importantly, it packs one helluva literary punch.”

“Levin goes places where most of us wouldn't dare let our mind wander.”
—Jewish Book Council

“Impossible to put down.”
The Chicagoist

“Beautiful writing that is simultaneously fast, gritty, and brutal.”

"In Levin’s hands, fiction explodes again and again into something endlessly enchanting and delightfully unexpected."
San Francisco Magazine

"[Adam Levin] can enter the mind of a character and write exactly what they are thinking."
Portland Book Review

"Levin’s got game."
Chico News & Review

"Entirely unique."
NewCity Lit

Hot Pink really shines, showcasing the work of an author who understands the heartbreaking potential of our desire to be liked.”

“Levin experiments with form, digresses within his digressions, mixes registers beautifully, and never lets realism get in the way of a good time.”
Star Tribune

About the Author

Adam Levin is the author of The Instructions, the winner of the New York Public Library's Young Lions Award. His stories have appeared in Tin House, McSweeney's, and Esquire. Winner of the 2003 Summer Literary Seminars Fiction Contest and the 2004 Joyce Carol Oates Fiction Prize, he lives in Chicago, where he teaches Creative Writing at the School of the Art Institute.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: McSweeney's; First Edition edition (March 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936365219
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936365210
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #953,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dmitry Portnoy VINE VOICE on March 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thought Adam Levin's first novel, "The Instructions," held up against those of J. D. Salinger, Joseph Heller, and John Kennedy Toole, and had a bigger, better ending. Being a Jew, I started to worry. Two of those writers silenced themselves, and one drastically changed the topic.

"Hot Pink" allays my fears, if nothing more. But there's a whole lot more. The crystalline acidity of "Frankenwittgenstein" outsparkles David Sedaris; the teenage tragedy of "Considering the Bittersweet End of Susanne Falls" plays out like the saddest, funniest work of Levin's fellow Chicagoan John Hughes. The rest, if a bit uneven, is more uniquely Levin, delightful even when just clearing his throat ("The Extra Mile," the title story), demonic when eating his own bitter heart ("Jane Tell"), profound when mourning moral choices ("Finch"), playfully deicidal when dishing up religious parables ("Scientific American"), and perfectly straightfaced when telling a very good joke ("RSVP.")

Best of all, these stories are not what I feared they would be, outtakes from "The Instructions." Most of these characters live in Chicago; some may even have gone to Ben Gurion's school; but even if they did, they never met him. They suffer their own predicaments, speak with their own voices, teach their own lessons (I recognized myself more than once.) Levin has published a second book as different from his first as the New Testament is from the Old, and the good news is there will be a third.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Hot Pink made me say "Really?!" and "Is that out there...?" many times. It has a back alley, behind-the-scenes, love story flavor throughout. Since I'm not a writer, I'm flooded with cliches to describe Levin's work (i.e. 'there's something for everyone!'). But that is why I'm writing this review. There really is something for everyone. Whether you're an intellectual or a huffer or just someone that recognizes the world's beauty doesn't always get captured in pretty colors, you'll like Levin. He flies off a bit, that's what makes reading his stuff kinda fun.

Actually, I should recognize that not 'everyone' likes grit. So if you need blue skies and sun throughout your stories, Levin is not for you. But maybe just give it a try. Like jumping into freezing cold waters, it's a little painful, shocking, and refreshing all at the same time. I promise you'll be enriched a least a little bit after finishing the stories.
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Format: Hardcover
This collection is closer to a 3.5 then a 4 but I chose to round up. I found nothing wrong with the collection, I enjoyed reading them, but I doubt they'll be memorable enough for me to retain in the long run. The first piece about a dad who becomes obsessed with creating an anatomical doll that eliminates wastes to help bulimic children was imaginative and well fleshed out. A lot of the other stories started off well: like the eponymous hot pink: angsty teenager unable to espouse love to a girl takes her to the wrong party and the one where a kid huffs butane the problem is the stories don't end complete and you feel like it's the beginning of a long work that stops where a chapter break should be. The shorter works are definitely even more pet projects and feel like promising scraps that the writer didn't come back to. I picked up this book after I finished reading Levin's the Instructions and find the author is more successful with long works. This is true for most writers, however, because short stories is a very specific type of writing and requires a compactness in prose that most writers are not adept at. Levin is an MFA who currents works as a professor. The acknowledgement section at the end confirmed my suspicion that many of these short works were written during his MFA and were assignments for class. The stories felt like they were things compiled from various assignments because they vary so much and do not follow any theme that makes it a cohesive collection. Having said all that Levin is a talented writer and while the works may not be new/revelational/&c &c they are enjoyable and a good way to while away a long afternoon.
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Format: Hardcover
Levin's fiction pulsates like flexing muscles. There is a brutal edge to a lot of his writing, though there can also be delicate emotion, that seems to perfectly voice the time in which we are currently living. Sometimes bizarre, these stories are always interesting and prove for me beyond any doubt that Levin's unique voice in "The Instructions" was in no way a fluke but instead heralded the arrival of an important modern writer.
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Format: Hardcover
Adam Levin is a renowned author who achieved success in 2010 with his book The Instructions. Now he has published his first short story collection, Hot Pink. Collected in this book are ten short and not-so-short stories, with content ranging from a man trying to create a doll that replicates life to a love story where nothing seems to go quite right. Levin is quite skilled with words. He can enter the mind of a character and write exactly what they are thinking. He is equally comfortable writing as an Italian pilot or a stoner college student addicted to just getting by in life. It is easy for readers to believe that they are witnessing a conversation between two friends.

Unfortunately many of the stories seem to go on far too long. Although Levin creates worlds that are fun to live in, the reader feels ready to move on halfway through the story. With so many unique ideas, there is a large potential for greatness. But Levin's execution of the ideas falls short. There are many fantastic short story authors to choose from - Neil Gaiman, Etgar Keret, and Stephen King spring to mind. Adam Levin has a way to go before reaching the pantheon of the greats, but Hot Pink shows he is close to achieving greatness.
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