Adam Ross

Maybe there's hope for alt-weekly journalists after all. Or at least, after leaving The Nashville Scene (formerly a sister paper of ours), Adam Ross found success with his debut novel Mr. Peanut (new in paperback), about marriage, sudden death, and the following criminal investigation. In his new story collection, Ladies and Gentlemen (Knopf, $24.95), Ross studies families and couples in similarly volatile combinations. Divorce, if not domestic violence, is always a threat. Punches are thrown between brothers, wild dogs go on the attack, and someone gets pistol-whipped. Conversations lead out of the polite shallows toward confrontation. The urge to argue is as strong as the pull toward adultery (a repeated motif). For both the married and the divorced in Ross' seven stories, full of reversals and surprise endings, potential catastrophe is always closer than you think. BRIAN MILLER

Fri., July 8, 7 p.m., 2011

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