Film News

The Dunning Man is Now Available to Stream

The critically acclaimed film is now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Fandango.

Based on the critically acclaimed short story of the same name, The Dunning Man follows the life of Connor Ryan, an Atlantic City landlord who's forced to rent his dingy apartments to a less-than-savory crowd. A relatively straightforward story about financial bad luck immediately gives way to mania and mayhem, as Ryan finds his tenants engaged in a bestial orgy and is nearly killed by Chechen soldiers. If it sounds bizarre, that's because it is.

These absurd moments are, however, balanced with the mundane, as Ryan is forced to shelter his tenant and love interest, Alice, and her young daughter from her neighbors as well as her alcoholic boyfriend. In a film with so many different moving parts, it would be easy for the plot to get muddled, but director Michael Clayton breathes life into Kevin Fortuna's story in a way that feels seamless. The question of why never really enters the viewer's mind. Reality is presented. Acceptance of it isn't a choice but a compulsion. In this world, the weird becomes normal; the normal, tense.

Still, The Dunning Man never feels avant garde or inaccessible. Ryan's bravado is a thin veneer hiding deep wounds. Alice's abusive relationship feels uncomfortably real. At the end of the day, the film, though shocking when necessary, is a simple story of a man trying to pick himself up and the quiet desperation we all face in daily life. The futility of fixing an AC unit. Uncomfortable social interactions. Stepping in dog shit. Even though the world Fortuna's created is tilted on its axis, the viewer could easily see themselves walking in Ryan's shoes.

The Dunning Man is now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Fandango.

The Dunning Man - Cinequest 2017 Trailer

Watch The Dunning Man Fandango | Amazon | iTunes

Praise for Fortuna's Latest Literary Venture

Matt Clibanoff is a writer and editor based in New York City who covers music, politics, sports and pop culture. He currently serves as Lead Editor for Gramercy Media. His editorial work can be found in Inked Magazine, Pop Dust, The Liberty Project, and All Things Go. His fiction has been published in Forth Magazine. Find Matt at his website and on Twitter: @mattclibanoff

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Culture Feature

Book Review: 'The Writing Irish Of New York'

Featuring work by Colum McCann, Billy Collins, Luanne Rice, Malachy McCourt, and many more.

Colin Broderick's imagination was forged by The Troubles in Northern Ireland and his work as a "chippy" (carpenter) after he landed in New York City.

His dream of becoming a writer may have seemed impossible to him at times, but it never left him. Despite his near fatal attraction to booze and countless personal and artistic concussions, he continued to swing his creative hammer and push past the character he once felt he had to play—the hardcore drinker, the Irish scribe. Those early struggles and triumphs have been recently documented in his first feature movie "Emerald City," an autobiographical account of his shift from a struggling construction worker to published author (it has just been released on VOD). After finding sobriety and refining his talent, he has gone on to build an impressive body of published work.

Most recently, Broderick serves his mission by pulling together and editing The Writing Irish of New York, a collection of essays by and about Irish writers who in essence lay out the entire history of Irish literature in America. The book tells the stories of a community bound together by the thick green tug rope that connects Gotham and Ireland. Writers like National Book Award winner Colum McCann, Poet Laureate Billy Collins, The New York Times Best Seller Luanne Rice, and best-selling author Malachy McCourt give intimate accounts of their own early days trying to make a living doing what they love in a city that will either make or break them. Interspersed with these accounts are snippets penned by Broderick himself; miniature, heartbreaking and inspiring portraits of the legendary Irish authors who have paved the way in America: Brendan Behan, Maeve Brennan, J.P. Dunleavy, and Oscar Wilde, among many others. The pages are filled with tales of the late greats, as well as a newer generation's first hand accounts of the sometimes trying, always rewarding life as an Irish writer—it's hard to imagine a library this collection doesn't belong in.

Author Colum McCann, internationally renowned for such novels as Let The Great World Spin, and This Side of Brightness, writes an exclusive account of his early days as a writer in NYC. For the first time ever, he tells of the struggles, the doubt, and ultimately, the hope. It's a vulnerable and heart-felt account of exile. It's Colum McCann as we've never seen him before. This essay alone is worth the price of this book.

Broderick tells of Oscar Wilde, whose works are so iconic and richly steeped in mystery and drama that it can be easy to forget the madness of his life. He disregarded societal taboo, pushing boundaries and advocating for an honest exploration of homosexuality, both in his written work and his life. At every turn, Wilde was met with disapproval, judgement, and ultimately, punishment—but he reveled in it. It fueled his flamboyant character and led him to New York City, where he finally found the celebrity he so desperately craved. There his ego exploded, and his blatant disregard for others' opinions shifted from triumph to tragic, ultimately leading to his downfall.

Purchase The Writing Irish of New York on Amazon.

Wilde exemplified all things theatrical in his writing, but, in stark contrast, the story told by contemporary New York writer, Kevin Fortuna (though equally powerful) is softer in tone, more humble. A great-grandson of Ireland who reconnects with his maternal bloodline, Fortuna, in his essay, illustrates the simple social magic that is part of normal life in Ireland, the love of language and conversation. Fortuna's story is an unusual one that involves the intersection of business and art, and can be traced back to his first trip to see family in Cobh, County Cork. This time spent in Cobh ignited a passion for the written word, a hunger for truth—and a driving need to avoid a "boring," wasted life. He ends his story by taking you back to that formative first trip to Ireland. The haunting conclusion to his essay captures the dark days of Ireland's past, but also the light that shone through, forged from sheer will and talent.

Editor Colin Broderick, "Writing Irish Of New York"

Those brighter days illuminated the life of America's prince, John F. Kennedy Jr., who was born into more fame and fortune than most of his fellow Irish writers would know in a lifetime. He married his father's integrity and love of country with the ever-growing, sexy world of pop culture to form George, a little-known NYC-based magazine that blurred the lines between politics and celebrity. Kennedy and his team asked the tough questions, and though he never shied away from the cloud of controversy surrounding his family, he would never rely on it. George's voice was objectively critical of leaders regardless of party politics, yet Kennedy still managed to lace his criticisms with undertones of his late father's idealism. He lead a blessed life that ended in tragedy, his potential never fully reached.

Dreams touched upon, but never fully realised, is a common Irish refrain, like the fleeting life of Frank O'Hara. O'Hara spent his wild days scribbling poetry on the back of napkins in NYC, and his life story is as crazy as his genius. Born to strict Catholic parents, O'Hara was destined to break from these religious restraints from an early age. He served in the U.S. Navy for two years, where his unconventional mind must have struggled with the relentless routine. His service was rewarded with his education at Harvard, where he published his first body of work and met a fellow poet with whom he fell madly in love. The two moved to New York, and like so many of his Irish brothers and sisters, what followed was a life riddled with addiction, self-loathing, and relentless pursuit of recognition. New York City is where O'Hara penned his best poetry—the uneasy flow of Manhattan seemed to mirror his own chaotic mind.

Purchase The Writing Irish of New York on Amazon.

Those NYC streets were a hazard and a haven to Dublin-born Maeve Brennan. Like her fellow Irish icons, Brennan's life was a combination of brilliance and insanity, the ratio of which was constantly bouncing back and forth, fighting and complimenting each other at different stages of her fascinating life. A child of revolutionary 1916 Ireland, her father founded The Irish Press and moved the family stateside where she found her voice, and began penning short stories for The New Yorker. Although not feeling confident enough to return to a religiously and socially-repressed Ireland until her later years, Brennan never forgot her roots; many of her short stories were based in her beloved hometown. As the years went on, her perfectly put-together ensembles began to slowly fall apart. Her genius stayed intact while perhaps a little lost at times. Like many talented and tortured artists, she left the Earth relatively unknown in the land of her birth, where her heart remained in the land that seemed to have forgotten her.

Lives bound together in talent and struggle, steeped in whiskey and self-doubt, the authors in The Writing Irish of New York span three centuries, but ultimately their heritage unites them. Far greater than the written words is the unspoken feeling you get when reading this book, the power of heritage spanning generations and oceans. Broderick closes the book with his own short story, his life fitting seamlessly with those of his much-loved idols, securing him a well-earned seat at the table.

It's easy to get caught up in the legend and deep sea of beautifully written words, but what makes Broderick's book worth reading is the way he mythologizes these writers when discussing their work but humanizes them in his portrayal of their character. It's the non-chronological narrating of these stories that captivates you. The vacillation between the biographical snippets of literary giants and the stories of newer writers serves as a gentle reminder of the hard path that came before and the history that unites them all.

Purchase The Writing Irish of New York on Amazon.


Watch yourself: "The Dunning Man" hits hard

Kevin Fortuna's The Dunning Man will soon grace the silver screen!

Some people say that reading about other people's problems makes us feel better. But that's only one of the reasons we turn to literature—to catch a glimpse into the lives that deserve the best stories. We can be that fly on the wall, spying on scenes that we, fortunately, don't have to deal with beyond the book's spine. Short stories are perfect vehicles for this sensation. If done right, they skip to the hard-hitting stuff without leaving out the vitals. I've gone back to short story collections time and time again for their brevity and punch, but one collection continues to be among my favorites: Kevin Fortuna's The Dunning Man.

And considering all that you get in this slim book, I'd say it's a pretty great find. The book is a collection of stories that feel like modern tall tales, narrating the lives of Irish-American societal rejects that, in my opinion, are also legends of attitude.

Esquire called The Dunning Man a "funny, explosive, and disarmingly moving" story about "people like you and me." And that's exactly what it is. Plus, you can read it in a single afternoon.

In the first story, "Dead," we meet Connor, who's on his way from New York City to Atlantic City to meet his "Girlbomb" Ursula for dinner. But the characters that make it nearly impossible for him to get there are both hilarious and pathetic. "Poor Jimmy" echoes that same uncomfortable but effective teetering between dignity and destruction, as a couple of old friends attempt to chase girls and their past is brought into the light. But these stories are just warm-ups to the title story, "The Dunning Man," which will soon release as a feature-length film.

In his story "The Dunning Man," Fortuna demonstrates his mastery of character and voice. Within the short space of the story, the whole world, even beyond Atlantic City, goes from just okay to nearly irreparable. Connor is back, and with seemingly nothing left to lose, he's trying his luck in the unforgiving world of Atlantic City real estate. But more than a few curveballs (or punches) are thrown his way.

In Michael Clayton's upcoming film, The Dunning Man, Connor plays landlord to three malfunctioning apartment units, which house Alice, the young mother dealing with a busted AC and incessant "love sounds" from above; Styker Jones, the ostentatious rap star and origin of the ruckus; and Erika Deitz-Hoffman and her band of "animal people." Enough said.

As you can imagine, this colorful group causes nothing but trouble for poor Connor, who's just trying to get the rent he's owed. But powerful connections brew between Connor and his tenants that make you think, if only for a moment, that he might just wake up from this nightmare unscathed.

The film captures Fortuna's fast-paced plot, while enhancing it with delightful montages of Irish-American history, authentic Irish tunes, and acting that brings his already vibrant characters to even more life.

So it was fitting that the story collection was published by indie New Orleans publisher Lavender Ink. Anything bigger might have threatened the level of intimacy that I so love about the book. And likewise, the film was picked up by USA Today Best Film Festival, Cinequest, a vanguard Silicon Valley organization on the edge of creative innovation. Cinequest aims to find and share films that have a direct impact on youth and artists. It's a more than suitable home for such a gem of narrative.

The Dunning Man opens March 4th. Click here for information on screenings!

Update: The Dunning Man Was Just Featured In The Nook Daily Find! Follow This Link To Get The E-Book For Just $.99 (Today Only)!

2014 was a busy and fruitful year when it comes to the world of publishing.

There was a plethora of great, engaging, intriguing, thought provoking literature, from both established writers and emerging new talent.

Personally, I wouldn’t even know where to start if it came to compiling a list of the top publications of the past twelve months—thankfully though, I don’t have to—as Buzzfeed has selected the 22 most exciting literary debuts of 2014.

The list encompasses the creme de la creme of the past year’s new voices from the worlds of fiction, nonfiction and poetry—check out their picks below and go to Buzzfeed to read a synopsis for each book.

1. The Empathy Exams, by Leslie Jamison

2. The Queen of the Tearling, by Erika Johansen

3. A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall, by Will Chancellor

4. Prelude to Bruise, by Saeed Jones

5. 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas, by Marie-Helene Bertino

6. The Great Glass Sea, by Josh Weil

7. A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing, by Eimear McBride

8. Land of Love and Drowning, by Tiphanie Yanique

9. Thrown, by Kerry Howley

10. McGlue, by Ottessa Moshfegh

11. The Dunning Man, by Kevin Fortuna

12. Man V. Nature, by Diane Cook

13. The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing, by Mira Jacob

14. Redeployment, by Phil Klay

15. Never Have I Ever, by Katie Heaney

16. Panic in a Suitcase, by Yelena Akhtiorskaya

17. The White Van, by Patrick Hoffman

18. Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng

19. Everyone I Love Is a Stranger to Someone by Annelyse Gelman

20. Fourth of July Creek, by Smith Henderson

21. Cutting Teeth, by Julia Fierro

22. An Untamed State, by Roxane Gay

In 1881, eight years before the completion of the Eiffel Tower, a real estate entrepreneur named James Lafferty built a six-story high wooden elephant on a deserted stretch of barrier island beach just south of Atlantic City, in southern New Jersey.

Lafferty’s goal was simple. He owned a lot of nearby land and he needed a gimmick to attract potential buyers. The gimmick was Lucy, the Margate Elephant.

Ninety years later, Lucy was a tattered, wasting-away wreck, when two local ladies undertook her restoration. They raised $25,000 with cookies and bake sales to move the building from the ground it stood on behind a local bar to a public park next to a hot dog stand. One day shortly afterward, they approached a local advertising man and said “We need advertising help.” “What for,” he responded.   “To save Lucy,” they said.

They went on to describe how they had managed to get Lucy listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a $62,000 matching federal grant. But let the ad man, my uncle, tell the story.

“So here are these two very nice ladies, naïve as hell, thinking that we could do some ads that would sell enough cookies to get them their sixty-two thousand dollars.”

“I said, ‘Ladies, you aren’t the Girl Scouts. I don’t think even the Girl Scouts could sell enough cookies here to raise that kind of money. But I have heard of an idea that might do it for you. I heard it in New York. It’s called ‘The Connecticut Plan’.

“It seems that a private school in Connecticut needed to renovate a building, but they didn’t have the funds. They had plenty of local connections, but no money. So some clever parent came up with the idea of approaching a friendly bank for a loan, having each parent family co-sign the loan for a thousand dollars and agree to pay the annual interest until the loan was repaid by the school. The school got the money they needed. The kids got a renovated school. And, the parents got a tax deduction for the interest they paid and the warm feeling that they’d done something good for the school. So, let’s do the same thing here.

“We’ll find a friendly bank. I just happen to have a new client—friends who have started a new bank. We’ll appeal to their civic pride and need to become better known. When they say 'Yes,' we’ll throw a cocktail party for some local movers and shakers that we can ask to co-sign the loan. You’ll get your matching grant money in one fell swoop and not only that, but we’ll see if we can’t get some contributions from local labor unions and materials donations to hold costs down and do the whole thing right.

“They were flabbergasted. But we did it in a couple of months, and Lucy’s restoration was underway. Forty years later, it sits in Margate, N.J. today as a National Historic Landmark and tourist attraction that’s visited every year by people from all over the world.”

This all took place in the early 1970s when Atlantic City had hit rock bottom. As viewers of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire know, this wasn’t the first time; Atlantic City’s roller coaster economics have been a topic of fascination since its founding. But this time, a perfect storm of negative events had caused its convention and tourism business to collapse and casinos were only a dream on the horizon. The first  casino referendum failed, but the second one passed. The campaign promised the moon to local supporters, but for nearly forty years casino owners focused mainly on delivering point-to-point visitors to their fortresses, which were consciously built to diminish the natural attractions of the island.

Now, the local casino industry is in a state of disarray due to increased competition, the tourist business outside of the casinos is virtually non-existent, Atlantic City’s population has fallen, the inner-city demographics are particularly challenging, and the city budget and infrastructure are in need of a major overhaul. So what’s to be done?

The original Convention Hall provided a stable expansion of business into seasonal, shoulder seasons. A new Convention Hall and shopping area continued that trend, while the old Hall became an entertainment center.  But, they’ve all been challenged by the fading of the surrounding urban environment.

However, there are some “big time” ideas for revitalization. Relocation of portions of Richard Stockton College of New Jersey into a prime Atlantic City location would provide an important mid-city “anchor” and bring professionals and students to town—some of whom might stay to become a part of the city’s revitalization. A half-dozen or so casinos still will remain to help stabilize the City’s economy. Growth of a nearby regional airport and federal aviation research center also can play a significant future role, and the sand, sea, and Boardwalk still retain their primal appeal for nearby metropolitan masses.

Lucy was saved by local people animated by an idea borrowed from another place. Could that work now for Atlantic City? City fathers and New Jersey politicians first have to man up. Nobody wants to vacation or relax in a war zone. Public safety and reduced crime are of paramount importance and must be attended to. How was the old Times Square rescued? How were Baltimore and San Antonio revived? HBO’s Boardwalk Empire may be enjoyable entertainment but let’s not confuse fiction with fact—no blue-chip investor is going to invest today in a corrupt environment.

But with the support of enlightened New Jersey State and Atlantic County government, a new mayor and business-oriented City Council in place, and several former casino buildings available for redevelopment, well-heeled investors might take another look and new generations of visitors might discover why old ones called Atlantic City “the World’s Playground”. Elephants learn from long memories, I’m told.

Kevin Fortuna is the author of The Dunning Man (Lavender Ink Press, October 2014). His story Weddings and Burials is a finalist for the prestigious The New Guard Machigonne Fiction Contest. He obtained a Bachelors degree in English Literature from Georgetown University, where he graduated summa cum laude. He is the recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship, the Quicksall Medal for Writing, a Fellowship in Fiction at the Prague Summer Writers Workshop and a Full Fellowship in Fiction at the University of New Orleans, where he received his MFA. Fortuna lives in Cold Spring, New York.

Harry Sweeney is a rewired – not retired -- advertising executive and member of the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame. He was born and raised in Atlantic City, headed Dorland Advertising for the last six (1971-76) of its thirty years as the City’s agency, and continues to reside in the area.

Read more about Kevin Fortuna's The Dunning Man here

And, take a stroll down Boardwalk Empire memory lane with Popdust's gallery of the best pics from all five glorious seasons....