Adam Wilson, an author of Newton, recently published his third book, Sensation machines. Completed before the pandemic and originally published in hardcover in July 2020, the paperback edition was released on September 7.
Sensation machines follows the failed marriage of Brooklyn couple Michael and Wendy Mixer. After an economic crash, Michael lost the life savings of the couple, which he has not yet told his wife about. When Michael’s best friend is murdered, the suspect is traced back to one of Wendy’s clients. The events that followed have a drastic effect both for the couple and for the country.
The novel covers many different topics and themes, spanning multiple genres, and takes place in a futuristic version of New York City, Wilson said in an interview with Heights.
“It’s kind of a hybrid genre novel that’s part political thriller, part mystery murder, part satire of tech and Wall Street, but in reality it’s kind of an intimate story. of the end of a marriage, ”Wilson said.
The novel explores how major historical events affect the lives of individuals through the economic crash and its effects on the couple’s marriage. The novel asks questions about the responsibilities and type of complicity individuals have following these kinds of events, Wilson said.
“It sort of relates to this question about the role of individuals and world historical events and how those things that are beyond our control shape our lives, but also how individuals sort of shape these great events with the little individual choices they make. ”Wilson said.
When the novel was first written in 2011, Wilson defined it during the 2008 stock market crash. He said he later decided not to base his novel on actual historical events, being a novelist with knowledge Wall Street Limited. Set in an “alternate counter-present” in New York City, albeit at different points from our reality, Wilson said the novel has many similarities to our world.
“So I had the brilliant idea of putting the book in the future where I could make it all up and imagine my own stock market crash and imagine my own version of what was going to happen,” Wilson said.
New York being the central place of the book, September 11 influences the history and the lives of the characters.
“The event, one way or another, really changes the trajectory of their lives, the main one being that they probably wouldn’t have gotten together if it hadn’t happened,” Wilson said.
Set in the future, the novel reflects how the city is constantly changing and allows Wilson to imagine how the city will continue to change. Although New York is the primary setting for the novel, a long section of the novel takes place in western Massachusetts, in the Berkshires.
“I still consider myself to be a writer from Massachusetts with a lot of connection to the region,” Wilson said.
Wilson has close ties to Newton, as a graduate of Newton South High School and Tufts University. Although he has lived in Brooklyn for the past 15 years, his ties to the city remain strong. His parents still live in Newton and he read his work at Newtonville Books, Wilson said. Reflecting his ties to the Boston area, Wilson said his last three books incorporated Massachusetts in one way or another.
Wilson said the 2008 stock market crash and the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011 influenced his writing. He said he was inspired by the protesters’ anger towards the bankers, as well as the lack of humanity that the bankers displayed. In his novel, Wilson explores the humanity of bankers.
“I kept coming back to this idea that they were human beings and people and I thought it would be a really interesting challenge to try to humanize this person who… would become some kind of avatar of all that. was horrible and evil in the world, and to think about how these larger systems somehow encourage certain behaviors and encourage a kind of greed… towards work and towards money, which can be really destructive, ”said Wilson.
Wilson said he felt the novel could have different meanings for anyone of any age or background who read it.
“I encourage anyone to read it who has concerns about the future, but I think it’s ultimately a comedic novel,” Wilson said. “Even though it explores big ideas and has some pretty sad parts, I hope it will be as fun and entertaining and all that.”
Image courtesy of Lauren Carrane