Critics like to compare Nashville novelist Adam Ross to other writers, and not to your average, everyday, ordinary writers either. Perhaps it's inevitable that Ross, the author of Mr. Peanut (Knopf, 2010) and Ladies and Gentlemen (Knopf, 2011), should inspire the loftiest comparisons — how often does a debut novelist rack up outrageous accolades both in translation and across the entire English-speaking world, including on the front page of The New York Times Book Review, and then turn in an equally compelling performance with a short-story collection barely a year later?
In any case, critics have elevated Ross into extremely rarefied company indeed, starting with Chekhov, no less. Dean Bakopoulos, writing in the Times Book Review, led off, noting that the book's "embedded narratives arrive effortlessly, in a page from Chekhov's playbook." Bakopoulos went on to compare Ross to Raymond Chandler, Italo Calvino, Alice Munro and Raymond Carver. Daniel Roberts picked up the name-dropping baton in The Rumpus, noting Ross' similarity to James Salter and, again, to Carver — and then aimed even higher: "Perhaps more than any other influence, Ross is working in the tradition of a story master like Nathaniel Hawthorne, who penned tales that were short but haunting."
In The Boston Globe, Steve Almond, who didn't much care for Mr. Peanut but who loved Ladies and Gentlemen, compared Ross to both James Baldwin and Philip Roth before noting, again, the influence of the Raymonds: "He has managed to wed the masterful plotting of Raymond Chandler with the exquisite characterization of Raymond Carver, to prove once and for all that exhibiting a deep empathy for your characters deepens the thrill as they, and we, barrel toward their fates."