Posts Tagged: new yorker

This Week in Short Fiction

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Let’s dedicate this week to the publications, editors, and benevolent marketing gurus who unleashed a whole bunch of quality FREE short fiction to us. Under the shadow of the FCC’s impending decision as to whether or not net neutrality will continue, these all-you-can-read buffets taste even sweeter.

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Gateway Literature

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Over at the New Yorker, Stephen Burt reviews Ariel Schrag’s Adam, a graphic novel about a straight man who finds himself in the midst of New York’s queer scene. Almost as interesting as the novel’s contents is its publicity: where trans characters were once cast as charity cases, psychopaths, anything but simply human, now Adam is being marketed as mainstream literary fiction:

…it tries not to lose readers unfamiliar with the complicated labels and the sometimes surprising bodies of the gender-variant people Adam meets: he’s learning about them, and from them, and (the novel assumes) so are we.

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Rent-a-Man

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Find here at the New Yorker a short history of Ted Peckham, an entrepreneur in the first half of the last century known for his male escort service, indicted for the possibilities it opened up.

The escort “would have to remain the perfect cavalier, attractive, entertaining, and ingratiating throughout an entire evening, even if he didn’t like the woman who had hired him.” In other words, his men would have to practice the same tiring arts of flattery and fakery that women had perfected over centuries of boring dates on the arms of wealthy men.

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The Funny Side of Writing

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Over at the New Yorker, read an excerpt from Mike Sacks’s upcoming Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations with Today’s Top Comedy Writers. The selection features an interview with George Saunders, in which the writer talks about his upbringing, getting inspiration for characters from working in a restaurant, Mark Twain, comedy, and humor versus satire.

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Harvey’s Heartache

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Stephen King doesn’t always write horror-less contemporary fiction, but when he does, there’s usually still a twist. Over at the New Yorker, “Harvey’s Dream” has been resurrected from the archives:

Then one day you made the mistake of looking over your shoulder and discovered that the girls were grown and that the man you had struggled to stay married to was sitting with his legs apart, his fish-white legs, staring into a bar of sun, and by God maybe he looked fifty-four in either of his best suits, but sitting there at the kitchen table like that he looked seventy.

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Interrogating Adrian

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Over at Granta, Francisco Vilhena interviews Adrian Tomine, the artist and illustrator responsible for bringing us Shortcomings, Summer Blonde, and any number of illustrations for the New Yorker. Tomine riffs on the origins of his stories, landing a job in pre-9/11, and the dynamics of imperfection:

I’ve heard people mention – and sometimes criticize – this unresolved quality in my stories.

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A Book Voyage with No Guide

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As the number of Americans who read books has declined, those who do read have begun wearing t-shirts, carrying tote bags, and sticking magnets on their fridges declaring their love of reading. Some book lovers even perform “book stunts,” reading through the encyclopedia or the dictionary over the course of a year.

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This Week in Short Fiction

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In this, the first week of June, a band of storytellers joined hands and exhaled sweet stories that rolled out like a giant park full of empty hammocks waiting to hold readers through the long summer days…

For example: On Tuesday, poet-storyteller Stuart Dybek released not one, but two short story collections: Ecstatic Cahoots: Fifty Stories (a compendium of flash fiction) and Paper Lantern: Love Stories (home to nine longer stories).

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Saul Bellows Revived

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Saul Bellow’s 1978 story “A Silver Dish has been has been re-released over at the New Yorker. The piece follows Woody Seblst, a successful businessman, before abandoning its conventional plot structure entirely; Bellow’s prose seeps into the Great Depression, the rise of gateway psychedelics, and Woody’s bleeding relationship with a “dying and picturesque father”:

There were Woody’s two sisters as well, unmarried, in their fifties, very Christian, very straight, still living with Mama in an entirely Christian bungalow.

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Resurrecting a Monster

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Forty-one years after his death, JRR Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf has been published by his son Christopher. Tolkien translated Beowulf early in his career, yet never published it. In the New Yorker, Joan Acocella speculates on the reason:

Another possible explanation for Tolkien’s putting “Beowulf” aside—a theory that has been advanced in the case of many unpublished manuscripts—is that the work was so important to him that if he finished it his life, or the life of his mind, would be over.

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Some Inheritance

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Ian Parker profiles Edward St. Aubyn in this week’s issue of the New Yorker, delving into the “family disaster” that shaped much of the writer’s fiction:

… [he] recalled some of his life’s most fraught experiences with steady irony, and in an unhurried English privilege that—like the paintings that hang in his drawing room, and the tone of amused contempt that sometimes marks his prose—is part of his inheritance from a father who tortured him.

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Where It All Began

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After Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s passing last Thursday, the New Yorker opened its archives to those compelled to get their hands on something from the “voice of Latin America.” One of the more interesting pieces in the archive is “The Challenge,” in which Marquez recalls a forty-two day span during which his first two short stories were published.

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The Works Behind the Work

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Over at the New Yorker, Meg Wolitzer writes about the cultural influences that helped inform her novel The InterestingsThey include Archie comics, folk music, and Michael Apted’s “Up” films”:

A good chunk of what you need to know about the characters in the “Up” films is right there in their childhoods, and I suppose that’s true in many novels, too; and yet you often still need life to just continue to unspool like an old Bell and Howell projector gone amok in order to get the whole story.

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World Wide Poetry

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Poetry as we know it—sonnets or free verse on a printed page—feels akin to throwing pottery or weaving quilts, activities that continue in spite of their cultural marginality. But the Internet, with its swift proliferation of memes, is producing more extreme forms of modernism than modernism ever dreamed of.

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JHUMPA LAHIRI’S LOWLAND

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The final key moment was when, suddenly, I was able to write the novel without feeling as though I needed the crutch of all the research and all of the books, and I felt that the characters were strong enough and their motivations had become more or less solid for me and satisfying for me to just go deeper with them, knowing that this was part of who they were and part of their world.

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Great Novels with Bad Endings

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How many love affairs have you had with novels that ended abruptly, poorly, without cause or the “proper” resolution?

You finish the last word, your arms hang limp, the novel collapses into your lap, and you mutter: seriously?

In Joan Acocella’s New Yorker article “On Bad Endings,” Acocella explores some classic novels that left us feeling cheated, and why writing a “great” ending is so difficult and rare.

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Economists Set Phasers on Stun

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Nobel prize winning economist and NYT‘s columnist, Paul Krugman expresses his love for sci-fi and fantasy in an interview for Wired magazine.

Krugman cites Isaac Asimov’s novel Foundation as his inspiration for becoming an economist, a damned responsible one at that: “‘I read [Isaac Asimov's] Foundation back when I was in high school, when I was a teenager and thought about the psychohistorians, who save galactic civilization through their understanding of the laws of society, and I said ‘I want to be one of those guys.’ And economics was as close as I could get.’” 

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