Return of NB’s Literary Prince

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Adam Prince and Charlotte Pence flank their daughter, Esme, at Lido Village Books. Photo by Jill Fales

Adam Prince returned to his Newport Beach roots last weekend, stopping in at Lido Village Books to promote his newly released collection of short stories, “The Beautiful Wishes of Ugly Men.”

A Newport Beach native, and recent Ph.D.,  Prince has been named one of the Top 20 best new writers in the United States by Narrative magazine.

The reading and reception at Lido Village Books was marked by warmth and love as family, old friends and members of the community came out to show support for Prince.

He was joined by his wife, the poet Charlotte Pence. They are touring together, doing readings and signings, as she also recently launched a new book, “The Branches, the Axe, the Missing,” a chapbook of poetry. But Charlotte was quick to point out that because Newport Beach is Prince’s hometown, the focus of evening should be about him and his book. She gave him a Kleenex-worthy introduction, which solidified the tone of the evening.

“The Beautiful Wishes of Ugly Men” has something for everyone. Michael Taylor wrote on the literary website Chapter 16,  “[Prince’s] stories present various men, damaged in various ways, whose commonality is that each must make a decision tied to the very essence of gender – or at least the role men believe that society has assigned them.”

Prince’s reading confirmed his gift of being able to tug at the heartstrings and tickle the funny bone in the same sentence.  He started with “A. Roolette? A. Roolette,” which follows people attending their 50-year high school reunion. The reader gets the outside appearances of what is happening juxtaposed against the inner angst and backstories of the attendees.  He also read “No Women Tonight,” a flash fiction piece that starts out, “Jim and I buzz along an edge of the Pacific Ocean trying for the next harbor. Swell high. Moon gone.” Apropos for the evening’s setting on Lido.

Prince’s writing style is rich and poetic, yet simple. He can capture a feeling, landscape or even a facial expression with precision and comfort. And Ellen Gilchrist, author of “Victory Over Japan” and “Nora Jane,” said of the collection of short stories, “Woman can learn more from these stories than from thousands of issues of Cosmopolitan.”

Earlier in the week, during a phone interview, Prince said, “I was a pretty weird kid,” but adds that his parents were always OK with it.  His parents must have known that weird is just another word for individual.

Marching to his own drummer has paid off:  Prince, who graduated from Newport Harbor High School in 1993, has spent the last two decades earning degrees, writing, traveling, teaching, and, now, publishing.

After high school, Prince received a degree from Vassar College in New York, continuing on to graduate school, in the South, where he earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of Arkansas. He just recently completed his Ph.D. in English literature and creative writing at the University of Tennessee.

“My dissertation was a novel I’m working on called ‘The Naked Afterward.’ It’s sort of a dark, comic, international literary thriller that takes place in Jakarta, Indonesia,” said Prince.

Prince has traveled extensively around the globe and taught English in South Korea.

He was recently the recipient of the prestigious Tickner Fellowship at Gilman School, a private boys high school in Baltimore where he will be teaching writing. He and Pence and their 5-month-old daughter, Esme, will be moving to Baltimore in July.

To learn more about Prince and “The Beautiful Wishes of Ugly Men,” visit 

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