Firewall Down — New Yorker Short Stories

For a short time only, The New Yorker has made its archives available back to the arbitrary year of 2007. Several sites have popped up with suggestions on what to read, some with fiction recs, e.g. Buzzfeed, containing ridiculously large portraits of each author. (It is Buzzfeed, after all.)

I’ve collected a mess of them and will slowly get through them. Thoughts on the first few…

Grace Paley, “My Father Addresses Me on the Facts of Old Age” — I like the easy relationship between father and daughter based dialogue-only, how this is about family and time, memory and forgetting, yet with no profound pressures to do so. This must be remedied: only having read a few of her stories. It’s right there, on my shelves, her Collected!

Junot Diaz, “The Cheater’s Guide to Love” — More Yunior, diminishing returns. Once again in a confessional-to-self second person. Every Dominican man in the world is a savage and won’t stop fucking women or talking about it. There’s a prissy virginal smart girl who won’t give it up. Once again, a shoe-horned outer concern (not sex), which before was nuclear annihilation, here is random Bostonians yelling racist epithets, neither of which feel like the story cares about. Will this guy ever write about anything else?

Rebecca Curtis, “The Christmas Miracle” — A bit off-putting in the ‘this happened, then this other thing happened, then this thing also happened!’ fashion of a hyperactive child. But I like the feel of the family interaction. I like the attempt to conceal the story’s cold concern (pedophilia/incest) behind its goofiness and goofy voice, but the three strands of natural remedies and sickness, cats getting ko’d by coyotes, and the creepy uncle, do not mesh. In an interview she mentions workshopping this with friends. They need to be stouter.

Sam Lipsyte, “The Dungeon Master” — I had read this before. Fitting into this nerdish subculture back when, he catches the feel of it, the way the game amplified desperate personality quarks. If anything I wish it were longer or did something besides be a snapshot, but it’s a minor classic.


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