The Delinquents

A Story

by Adam Atlas
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Adam Atlas, Your story left me shaken and in despair for Naples, a city which seems to worsen in every way. My husband was from Naples, but he left before things got so bad. We went back in 1989 to visit his family and within two days witnessed three robberies and, yes, committed by scooter riders. Tourists, we were told, skipped the city and headed straight for the boat to Capri. I sincerely wish you would not stay. Your future is doomed if you linger. May I suggest you apply at an overseas American school? There are many all over the world. I worked at one in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Again, I offer you my empathy for your situation in Naples.

I really enjoyed the writing and the voice. The delinquents were like the rats: everywhere. The relationship with his mentally ill mother was so realistic and touching. I have a mentally ill brother and it is impossible to control the situation year after year, so I could relate to that. The parallels with the bag lady and the girl's sick mother were well done. The story was beautiful, poetic, and tragic, yet I felt the main character always felt he could leave if he really wanted to. I wondered why he did not feel he had to escape from the delinquents like he had to escape from his mother. Thank you for the great writing and interesting story.

Adam Atlas has certainly made an auspicious entrance to the world of storytelling with his gripping account of life in Naples, Italy. Almost immediately, this reader found himself immersed in the action to the extent his heart beat wildly as the story unfolded! With the unique ability to engage readers right off the bat, Adam Atlas is destined to be a writer of note.

What depth and nuance for a young writer; this is beautiful.

What a relief! I keep reading work by those who have already been made, but to know that you are still in the making (I am only talking of your published inexperience in the literary world) and that you have done so so well. Really, thank you. It gives me (an unpublished writer) a needed jolt of hope.

This is an outstanding story, as it both delights and infuriates me. I am delighted at the skill with which Mr. Atlas weaves this tale, using numerous threads to create an exceptional picture of human relations, and especially, their fragility and haphazardness. My fury is stoked by Mr. Atlas's heartless demonstration of the artistry that is possible.

I share Maureen's pleasure at discovering a previously unpublished author whose work is outstanding. Whether it provides hope, I do not know. It has, however, raised my internal bar (which I hadn't been able to clear at its previous height, so thank you, Mr. Atlas). I sincerely look forward to more of Mr. Atlas's work.

The word delinquents brought me to the story, but instead of lightweight mischief makers, the delinquents provide menace, without the author ever using the word mafia. The use of first-person narrative keeps the story moving and I like the use of the delinquents as a metaphor for the narrator's relationship to the mother. Haunting.

Great story. The terse, melancholy tone, choppy, nearly adjective-free sentences, and episodic structure make me think of Roberto Bolaño's short fiction.

Adam Atlas, well done. My mother grew up in Naples because her father was a military officer. She went back to Naples recently since my brother was marrying a woman from a village near the Italian Alps. My mother once told me how her best times were in Naples. She told me she read books all day and traveled to the beach, would practically run away until she decided to come back. I remember my mother telling me this story and she never talks about her childhood. We both cried. Her solitude in Naples was, I believe, her happiest time in her life. I liked this story not only because of the setting, but of the allusions to the plight and the loneliness of human beings, traipsing about, afraid perhaps to go home. I was wondering if you wrote this story before, after, or simultaneously as the other story about the guy getting his thumb cut off?

This story was a bit of glorious mess. I think the narrator was trying to draw parallels between the delinquents in the streets and himself. By not being there for his mother, he probably thinks of himself as a “delinquent” son, too. The “girl” that he wanted, who was mysteriously unavailable all the time, she, too, was a bit of a delinquent friend to the narrator. Also, something about the tone and color of the story seemed to brilliantly capture a sense of melancholy, the confusion of life, the where do I go now, the what do I do now. Those human condition questions of bewilderment after loss and tragedy were wonderfully displayed. This was an intriguing, and highly nuanced piece that works on its own terms, and it definitely transported me to another world. Great job!