UA Grad publishes new book, “We are Not All Winners”
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Noell Wolfgram Evans, a graduate of The University of Akron, portrays the concept of making the best out of your given situation very appropriately in his new novel, “We Are Not All Winners.” The novel is a collection of short stories focusing on certain aspects of everyday moments that can too often be overlooked.
For instance, in one story a boy’s mom throws out his most prized possession, a Howie Mandel statue, which in his eyes is just as real as Howie Mandel himself. The story goes on to elaborate the boy’s journey of finding his precious Howie Mandel statue. The boy eventually finds Howie in the least expected place, on the corner playing with a seven-year-old girl. After explaining to the little girl about how he lost Howie Mandel, the little girl replies by lying, saying it is actually her statue. Just as he was about to offer her a trade and try to blackmail her into getting his statue back, Howie decided to do one of his comedy acts. In response, the little girl fell on the ground laughing, given the boy pushed her to the ground. As she laughed, he hopped on his bike and pedaled away, glancing back once to say his farewell to Howie Mandel.
These are types of short stories Evans exemplifies in his new novel, ones that help show us that we can not control the unexpected, only how we go about handling it and he manages to do so in a humorous way.
Since graduating from UA, Evans has written a number of fiction and non-fiction pieces that have appeared in print and digital formats. He has become a two-time winner of the Thurber Treat Award for humor writing and has had plays produced in New York City, Chicago, Cleveland, Canton, Columbus, Louisville and Palm Springs. Also, he wrote the award-winning short film There Will be Blocks and contributed to the web series Aidan 5. On top of all of this, he has managed to be the advisor to Group Creativity Improv, which is dedicated to help all variety of companies share their stories.
“I wanted to find something that would sum up the one common theme that runs through the book and that’s, at the risk of sounding pompous, that we set up an ideal, or at least society does, of what a “winner” is but not everyone hits this and really that’s okay, as long as we are happy with ourselves,” Evans said. “The book is filled with stories of people on the fringes, people with unique issues, people who you might pass by without a second look, but who have these interesting lives, good and bad, and stories in them. I tried not to judge the characters or slant their presentation in any way, rather I just wanted to present them as people, albeit people who have not your standard set of life.”
All these short stories Evans put together in his novel help prove that everyone, even the least expected, have their own unique individual story inside them waiting to be shared and all it takes is someone willing to listen.
In reference to his inspiration about the book, Evans said, “Just paying attention to the world around me and watching all of the various stories of the day unfold. Always wondering, ‘what happens next’ and sometimes taking it to the logical conclusion, often taking it in completely opposite directions.”
His thought process provides this unique collection of stories and the viewpoint within them. “For example, I was thinking about an actor and how they were big and then they only really showed up in small character roles anymore. I started to play with this idea and wondered what would happen if that downward decline continued, I figured that eventually they would be completely out of work and therefore it was logical to imagine that they would be found in a garage sale surrounded by Hollywood memorabilia. In the book, the celebrity who gets picked up at a garage sale is Howie Mandel, and the story is Howie,” Evans said.
Evans also makes the love for writing seem very natural. “I like the idea of having a way to express yourself, of creating this world and putting these people in it and having all these avenues, stories, plays, poems, blogs, twitter, to do that. I also like the challenge of working within the limitations of those formats to tell a fully realized story,” he said.