Intro by Joyce Carol Oates, Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton
In our fiction workshop of unusually talented young writers, which included Eleanor Barlthom and Jacob Savage, Alexander Adam was outstanding. His workshop presence was vibrant, engaged, unfailingly intelligent and insightful. His writing was sharp-edged, unexpectedly corrosive, and very funny. Alex seemed incapable of “doing” an assignment in a conventional way. His workshop portfolio was titled “This is Not About Me”--a droll commentary, since the stories did seem to be about Alex, or a young male figure who very much resembled him. The titles of his short stories were terse and unsentimental: “Crushed”--”Squeezed”--”Void”-”zig”--”sweat.” Alex’s work was naturally dramatic; his command of dialogue was impressive. I remember telling him, during the workshop, as I don’t believe that I have ever told any other student in such circumstances, before or since, that he could have a career as a playwright or a writer of first-rate television scripts like those produced on HBO. This seemed to me at the time absolutely possible, perhaps probable. Though Alex brought the gift of laughter to our workshop, and seemed to exude geniality, his personality was complex, and it is perhaps significant that the cover image for his portfolio was a reproduction of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” This image has become unnervingly familiar, almost iconic / stereotypical in our culture, but it is in fact a startlingly original and painterly image, meant to suggest the haunting quality of isolated, inner anguish and yet its transformation through the most luminous art. It is astonishing to me to realize that Alex is no longer among us, since he looms so distinctly in my memory.