in every 'new yorker' short story ever...

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1) sexually frustrated woman brews tea, looks out at barren tree

remy bean, Monday, 21 January 2008 17:57 (thirteen years ago) link

2) effete professor mulls lustily over graduate student and her lovely paper on Kafka.

remy bean, Monday, 21 January 2008 17:58 (thirteen years ago) link

3) the word 'arabesque'

remy bean, Monday, 21 January 2008 17:58 (thirteen years ago) link

4) "they did not talk for most of the long car ride"

remy bean, Monday, 21 January 2008 17:59 (thirteen years ago) link

5) cancer/pregnancy scare

remy bean, Monday, 21 January 2008 17:59 (thirteen years ago) link

6) *intriguing* opening sentence

Hurting 2, Monday, 21 January 2008 17:59 (thirteen years ago) link

^^in every short story ever tbh

J0rdan S., Monday, 21 January 2008 17:59 (thirteen years ago) link

well yeah

Hurting 2, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:00 (thirteen years ago) link

7) protagonist's sibling significantly more/less successful than then, and blasé about it

remy bean, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:00 (thirteen years ago) link

7) protagonist's sibling significantly more/less successful than protagonist, and blasé about it

remy bean, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:01 (thirteen years ago) link

8) high school bully / crush wanting to settle the score after twenty years

remy bean, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:02 (thirteen years ago) link

9) protagonist has precocious child

9b) who lives with other parent

Hurting 2, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:02 (thirteen years ago) link

10) over-developed "ethnic" backstory closely mirroring writer's own

remy bean, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:03 (thirteen years ago) link

best remy thread ever

James Redd and the Blecchs, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:03 (thirteen years ago) link

11) aging academics have sex

bell_labs, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:04 (thirteen years ago) link

12) dramatic destruction of important documents symbolic of Personal Baggage

remy bean, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:06 (thirteen years ago) link

13) toga party

Noodle Vague, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:07 (thirteen years ago) link

I never read NYer short stories, unless they're by writers I already like, like Updike or Murakami.

jaymc, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:08 (thirteen years ago) link

14) http://www.radosh.net/images/070402_contest_p465.jpg

remy bean, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:08 (thirteen years ago) link

15) characters with off-kilter names like "Claymer" and "Theria" whose relationship to the narrator is never spelled out; probably a cousin

Tracer Hand, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:10 (thirteen years ago) link

16) relentlessly dialogue-free paragraphs

Tracer Hand, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:10 (thirteen years ago) link

17) protracted anthropomorphic metaphors e.g. 'as ever, Lorinoma wants to grasp the hands of the grandfather clock, stare into its face, and plead for leniency and respite'

remy bean, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:11 (thirteen years ago) link

18) epigram by marcel proust or joni mitchell

remy bean, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:11 (thirteen years ago) link

18)sinewy limbs

pj, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:12 (thirteen years ago) link

11) aging academics have sex

oh come on, that's totally hot.
http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y218/JennV1988/rachel_dratch53.jpg

kenan, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:13 (thirteen years ago) link

19) description of narrator's family rituals as if the narrator is revealing some precious secret instead of simply how her daughter peels a fucking grapefruit

Tracer Hand, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:14 (thirteen years ago) link

I never read NYer short stories, unless they're by writers I already like, like Updike or Murakami.

-- jaymc, Monday, January 21, 2008 1:08 PM (4 minutes ago) Bookmark Link

I usually think of The New Yorker Short Story as a genre that includes the ones by lesser writers but from which the better ones are exempt

Hurting 2, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:14 (thirteen years ago) link

tracer otm w. 19 ^

'they walked to school hand in hand, avoiding the cracks on the sidewalk'

remy bean, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:15 (thirteen years ago) link

Typified by the stories of Antonya Nelson:

My family owns a house in Telluride” was his favorite, most useful line. He used it on a particular kind of girl or woman, somebody with whom he could not foresee a future, somebody who he knew would one day perceive him truly, with X-ray eyes, and move on. In the meantime, he could take her for a long weekend to Telluride.

Hurting 2, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:16 (thirteen years ago) link

20) atheist longs for faith of youth, walks into religious establishment and feels 'hollow'

remy bean, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:17 (thirteen years ago) link

melancholy family pets
melancholy children
melancholy babies

tipsy mothra, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:19 (thirteen years ago) link

Marissa Silver:

It was sad. Of course it was sad. But she didn’t feel sad. Sad was what people said they were in the face of tragedies as serious as suicide bombings or as minor as a lost earring. It was a word that people used to tidy up and put the problem out of sight.

Hurting 2, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:19 (thirteen years ago) link

21) ^^ anhedonia in any form whatsoever ^^

remy bean, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:20 (thirteen years ago) link

John Burnside:

The way she spoke, it was as if she’d made the journey herself, but she hadn’t. She’d never even left Scotland, and all that talk about the Montreal customs was just stuff she’d picked up from Caroline, who’d been back three times in the six years since she got the job in Montreal. Not long before her last visit, though, she had met this new boyfriend and had started making a big thing about how it was our turn to go over there.

Hurting 2, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:21 (thirteen years ago) link

22) Everything narrated in *hushed tones*

Hurting 2, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:21 (thirteen years ago) link

22) hushed even tones, preferably with a pretentiously thin vocabulary

Hurting 2, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:22 (thirteen years ago) link

23) stalwart avoidance of brand names or recognizable products and replacement with generic signifiers 'listened to his ipod' becomes 'put on some headphones'

or

24) slavish devotion to product tags and their social import 'i wasn't sure if i was allowed to drink progresso soup -- my family stuck with the ineffable security of campbells'

remy bean, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:23 (thirteen years ago) link

hi, i'm ira glass

remy bean, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:23 (thirteen years ago) link

Maxim Biller:

It was a very cold day. He hadn’t closed the balcony door overnight, and when he breathed out a small cloud of vapor rose from his mouth. He lay in bed with only his face outside the covers, making clouds of vapor. Another five, no, another ten of them, and he’d get up.

She hadn’t kissed him when she awoke at dawn. She had simply reached for him, and when he’d been lying on top of her she hadn’t given him any help, but it had been quite easy all the same. She hadn’t kissed him before she left, either, and he’d fallen back asleep straightaway and dreamed of a bottle of Corona as large as the water pump in Monbijouplatz.

Hurting 2, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:24 (thirteen years ago) link

The New Yorker Story is a single, unending story

Hurting 2, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:24 (thirteen years ago) link

Corona as large as the water pump in Monbijouplatz Corona as large as the water pump in Monbijouplatz Corona as large as the water pump in Monbijouplatz Corona as large as the water pump in Monbijouplatz Corona as large as the water pump in Monbijouplatz Corona as large as the water pump in Monbijouplatz

remy bean, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:25 (thirteen years ago) link

bahahaha ANHEDONIA otm

Abbott, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:26 (thirteen years ago) link

25) decisive, 'edgy' lack of closure.

remy bean, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:27 (thirteen years ago) link

yeah, anhedonia is like the word I've been trying to think of all my life to describe those stories

Hurting 2, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:28 (thirteen years ago) link

I was going to say 'it should be its own genre,' but basically isn't modern literary writing the anhedonia genre?

Abbott, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:31 (thirteen years ago) link

26) someone goes home, has mixed feelings about being home

max, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:31 (thirteen years ago) link

27) someone remembers college, has mixed feelings about college

max, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:32 (thirteen years ago) link

Fun fact everyone probably already knows: Anhedonia was the original title of Annie Hall.

jaymc, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:33 (thirteen years ago) link

didn't know, but appreciate

remy bean, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:34 (thirteen years ago) link

28) scene at an empty Atlantic beach in midwinter

remy bean, Monday, 21 January 2008 18:34 (thirteen years ago) link

Dunno, there are more deserving targets of internet playa hate than Hari - or me, for pointing it out.

suzy, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 16:10 (twelve years ago) link

23) stalwart avoidance of brand names or recognizable products and replacement with generic signifiers 'listened to his ipod' becomes 'put on some headphones'

-- remy bean, Monday, January 21, 2008 1:23 PM (1 month ago) Bookmark Link

Look, why don’t you check out this band I’m working with?” He handed me a sleek little music player. I listened for a while, out of politeness.

remy ftw

jhøshea, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 16:18 (twelve years ago) link

Too much brands = you are Douglas Coupland. I am trying to recollect whether an author wrote a novel and asked for product placement as a lark. But remy b. correkt.

suzy, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 16:23 (twelve years ago) link

Fay Weldon!

the pinefox, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 16:43 (twelve years ago) link

The problem with picking on the Kunzru here is that ILX is, whether it's pro or con, largely obsessed with the kind of people the story is about -- and of course largely is the kind of people the story is about, as maybe evidenced by the implication that he's doing it wrong -- so the idea that there's something odd or embarrassing about him writing about these people isn't exactly a point that's been carried yet. It's clearly a set of social manners we're interested in, one that informs way too many arguments around here; so why wouldn't a writer of fiction try to tackle it? (And the opening paragraph lets you know straight off that it's not just scenery here, that this social class is kind of his topic.)

But of course it really is hard, and risky, to try this sort of thing, because there's a huge chance of embarrassment: we love the way someone like Waugh might write about the manners of his bright young things, because we weren't around to nitpick the cultural references, but of course it's hard as hell to do it in the moment when people are. (And magazine short stories are kinda the best place to attempt it.) That opening graph pasted above doesn't do a bad job of it at all, cataloging habits and boxing up a lifestyle in a way that'd still make sense from outside of it. There's an effective neutrality to it -- "this is what we did" -- that's a pretty good option when you're trying to do this sort of thing.

I also think it's kinda funny that there were a bunch of initial assumptions about Kunzru's relationship with the type of person his narrator is, mostly because he's taken on the necessary fictional task of treating his narrator as human. But then I also think several of Hurting's actual criticisms of the story-as-a-story are pretty dead-on.

nabisco, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 17:09 (twelve years ago) link

Oh, you know what else is interesting to me, is that it seems way more common among English writers to try and honestly tackle portraits of modern-day social categories than it is for Americans! Or not even social categories: there's so much English fiction that's willing to go directly at realistic portraits of how specific types of (usually middle or upper-middle class) people actually live. Whereas the top-flight fiction of the U.S. -- or at least the stuff that gets attention -- tends way more often to be about unusual circumstances, elements of fantasy, abstractions from and metaphors for the actual stuff we do. You could say the same thing about the difference between an American crime procedural and a BBC detective show, actually, but I don't know if that means anything.

nabisco, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 17:15 (twelve years ago) link

Ladies and gentlemen, Nabisco.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 17:21 (twelve years ago) link

I haven't read the story but I think that the bits I've seen here are bad

you might like Evelyn Waugh but I don't - I think he was vile

other points re. US / UK sound interesting.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 17:23 (twelve years ago) link

Many Britishes crazy about Fitzgerald for this very reason.

I'm finding that if I have to write a modern problem it's much easier to send it back in time a few decades and work it out like that.

suzy, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 17:25 (twelve years ago) link

but some of us also like FSF because he was a hopeless romantic who wrote with unabashed gorgeousness

the pinefox, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 17:41 (twelve years ago) link

Ha, yeah, Fitzgerald was the other example I had in mind, yeah. I tend to like the "sending it back in time" answer too, Suzy, especially for longer things -- even a small amount of perspective is ridiculously helpful in figuring out what defined a social class, or how it operated. (I also like how novels sometimes have this built in -- spend a few years working on it, a year or two getting it on shelves, and there you go.) But I'll admit to having a soft spot for people trying to do this sort of thing in the moment, usually in magazine stories, and especially since it's part of the PURPOSE of magazines, a kind of in-the-moment disposable "what are we doing right now" approach.

I'm trying to think of who has been good, in my lifetime, at getting into existing social groups and classes, ones I know about firsthand. I can't necessarily think of much.

nabisco, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 17:53 (twelve years ago) link

nice point, Nabisco, about the built-in time lag.

Amis said of Money (1984, set in 1981), something like: 'I thought it would be fun to write a historical novel about something that happened the other day'

and a fair defence of the role of magazine fiction too.

I have a fond memory of the time we walked out of the west side of Central Park, february 2005, early on a cold Saturday evening, and at a subway newststand you remarked how 'New York is a MAGazine culture', or possibly even a magaZINE culture, unlike, you said, Chicago.

this isn't relevant to the debate, I'm just sharing my fond memory of your company.

did you ever read Geoff Dyer, The Colour of Memory: published 1989, set c.1986? it's good on dole-age bohemians in Brixton (a very small set). I saw him once say that the dole had inadvertantly constructed a new generation of Bright Young Things.

he also compared himself, then, to Michael Bracewell, who in a sense is obsessed with this issue - it's his whole schtick in a way. I was going to say "cf ... " - then realized, well, cf all his novels.

I realize this is basically UK 1980s whereas you're interested in US 00s

the pinefox, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 18:10 (twelve years ago) link

Miranda July: getting into existing group of sexually obsessed and frustrated pervert losers

the pinefox, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 18:13 (twelve years ago) link

nabisco i would say that a 'certain class' of people are overrepresented in popular culture today and i can entirely see why its annoying to open up the nyer and read about the same shit we read about in practically every mainstream music mag or whatever

deej, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 18:33 (twelve years ago) link

FSF and waugh - whatever else you think of them - used cultural identification and social classification as grist and fodder for character development, always at a slight distance, a remove, and not for the purpose of self-supporting cleverness or with-it-ness.

both of them wrote with enough detachment (what john gardener called 'camera placement') to allow the characters hoisting on their own frequently-idiotic petards, without endorsing or scorning the cultural associations.

the story above, conversely, uses these tools as self-substantiating, apparently interesting on their own, names-as-currency b.s. stylewise, the story is not abjectly poor, it is just poorly edited.

remy bean, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 18:35 (twelve years ago) link

Yeah but deej part of my point was that if we don't want to hear about that class of people, why do we read a message board that's heavily obsessed with them. (I'd also note that the NYer does not really spend a huge amount of time on that class of people, but I think that's mostly an age demographic thing, and they're already starting to shift their way down toward our age group.)

I don't really see any "self-supporting cleverness" in this just-okay story, but I will certainly agree that it is no Fitzgerald or Waugh.

nabisco, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 18:40 (twelve years ago) link

Robin Carmody: getting into existing group of progressive ruralists for proportional representation

DJ Martian: getting into existing subculture of systems theorists

the pinefox, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 18:47 (twelve years ago) link

n, this is supposed to be clever:

I ended up adopting a sort of ironic nerd look, with thick, plastic-framed glasses and a clip-on tie. I wasn’t very satisfied with it. I considered wearing my “own” clothes, on the ground that it would have been the most sincere response—to dress as if there were no dress code—but I couldn’t work out what the most neutral choice would be. How to let everyone know that not only was I myself, I was expressing myself?

remy bean, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 18:48 (twelve years ago) link

actually, I think Nabisco's thought re. "who has been good, in my lifetime, at getting into existing social groups and classes, ones I know about firsthand" - gives me an excuse to ventilate, once more with affect, my long-standing theory & complaint about the movies: they never have people like me in them.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 18:49 (twelve years ago) link

How is that an attempt for the writer to be clever? It's not an attempt to be clever on the level of language, and it's not an attempt to be clever on the level of content -- content-wise, it's actually fairly earnest, setting up an issue of authenticity versus the character's need to be clear about constantly "expressing myself." That's the basic work that fiction is supposed to do, using situations of plot to examine character -- how is that "clever?" Do you mean "clever" on the part of the character?

nabisco, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 18:53 (twelve years ago) link

Look, it is soooooo hard to write about any mode of dress well in the context of fiction, because it has to do all of those things.

suzy, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 18:57 (twelve years ago) link

To me the story seems like an awkward attempt to give the 2000s the same gauzy, heady perfume of nostalgia that Paris in the 1960s often gets

Tracer Hand, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 19:02 (twelve years ago) link

Brand new, you're retro

Tracer Hand, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 19:03 (twelve years ago) link

the first bit is cute, if overwritten in the way TH suggests. the plot development is like lightweight writers-workshop "idea-driven" sci-fi.

s.clover, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 19:04 (twelve years ago) link

seriously. if i read this in a "dangerous visions" style collection i'd feel hella disappointed.

s.clover, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 19:06 (twelve years ago) link

ehh, I don't have the patience to argue this point with you. If you don't find that story -- or that excerpt -- smugly 'clever' than we will just leave it at that.

remy bean, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 19:06 (twelve years ago) link

Agreed, my problem with the story is the heavy-handedness, which goes along with the awkward tone.

xp

Jordan, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 19:06 (twelve years ago) link

considering the sludge that the NYer can sometimes put between its covers, this story is really not that bad, not too offensive, from what little i have read. the writing--at least the first page or so--does not seem too cute or too clever at all.

Mr. Que, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 19:07 (twelve years ago) link

"Sunita buzzed up fat Constantine, who was hefting a box of mangoes in his meaty hands."

Tracer Hand, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 19:23 (twelve years ago) link

"Otto was a long-haired German who shot music promos. 'I need information, man,' he said, shrugging. We were sitting in a sushi bar, drinking green tea. 'I don’t care how it gets to me.'"

Tracer Hand, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 19:25 (twelve years ago) link

My main problems with the story are that it seems more about an idea than about characters, that that idea isn't a very interesting or original idea, and that the writing generally isn't very good.

Hurting 2, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 21:46 (twelve years ago) link

hey look there a pile of shit on the ground - its kinda greenish isnt it - ohh is that some corn i see in there!

jhøshea, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 21:51 (twelve years ago) link

Look, it is soooooo hard to write about any mode of dress well in the context of fiction, because it has to do all of those things.

-- suzy, Tuesday, March 11, 2008 2:57 PM (2 hours ago) Bookmark Link

"It's hard to do x well" should not be used to defend stories that are supposed to represent the best of contemporary fiction. This is The New Yorker. Glimmer Train is down the hall.

Hurting 2, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 22:01 (twelve years ago) link

http://www.serenedominic.com/snob1.jpg

Hurting 2, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 22:03 (twelve years ago) link

http://nla.gov.au/nla.pic-an24130627-v

Hurting 2, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 22:05 (twelve years ago) link

Oh god am I glad I don't typically expect the NYer to provide the best of contemporary fiction! The only time I'll really get on them about that is with debut fiction issues; for most of the regular issues it's just popular authors who have name recognition with the demographic, and have a story that needs conversion into a paycheck.

nabisco, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 22:06 (twelve years ago) link

Wait, does that make sense? I get pissed off when they debut of first-expose writers I don't think are particularly good or promising, but can't work up a sweat about established writers dropping in sub-par stories.

A lot of that is based on some fear that if the NYer today were seriously spending its time trying to find and boost the best young writers, it would screw up the world entirely, give them some weird and awful power over the industry, create a what's-new cycle that celebrates writers for two years and then leaves them out to dry as they mature -- just generally create something about like indie bands and blogs, only in a much worse way.

nabisco, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 22:10 (twelve years ago) link

i let my subscription lapse - its just factoids w/a side of shitty fiction

jhøshea, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 22:12 (twelve years ago) link

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. ... oh wait

nabisco, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 22:15 (twelve years ago) link

I pretty much never read NYer fiction unless it's an author I already like (Updike, Murakami, etc.).

jaymc, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 22:15 (twelve years ago) link

On one hand, I guess it's silly to expect The New Yorker to mean to fiction what it did fifty years ago when the fiction landscape has completely changed. Also it's probably easy for me to idealize the old New Yorker with a filter through which only the best material has passed. OTOH with declining print space devoted to fiction, I'd think The New Yorker could be more choosy and I've been a little disappointed with their choices -- the writing they choose these days that isn't Doctorow or Munro or Updike too often has a *lifestyle* feel.

Hurting 2, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 22:15 (twelve years ago) link

I don't know who either Mr Burt Stanton or Mr (?) jhoshea are, but boy, that (3 posts up) just made me laugh out loud.

I'm impressed or pleased, I think, that anyone buys and reads The New Yorker. Good for you!

the pinefox, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 22:51 (twelve years ago) link

seriously, i started feeling so much better about myself and my life when i stopped expecting the New Yorker to ever have good fiction.

Mr. Que, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 22:53 (twelve years ago) link

id read that rag from front to back then find myself telling everyone abt all the fascinating things i learned - srsly that is no way to be.

jhøshea, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 22:58 (twelve years ago) link

eh, New Yorker non-fiction at its best can be revelatory, although the lesser stuff tends to just sort of ramble on. I think they've been way overdoing their primary coverage. "Hillary's Latest Comeback" is just not worth anywhere near the wordage they give it.

Hurting 2, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 23:02 (twelve years ago) link

im just kind of joking abt hating the nyer kind of

although i did let my sub lapse a while ago

jhøshea, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 23:15 (twelve years ago) link

one year passes...

damn son i thought we was fam

― BIG HOOS aka the steendriver, Tuesday, January 22, 2008 12:11 AM Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

minstrel

― Arms, Tuesday, January 22, 2008 12:12 AM Bookmark

LA CANCION MAS PRETENCIOSA DEL MUNDO... (The Reverend), Saturday, 12 December 2009 21:45 (eleven years ago) link

This thread kind of makes me glad I don't have the time or energy to get all worked up about stuff like this anymore.

Bay-L.A. Bar Talk (Hurting 2), Saturday, 12 December 2009 23:21 (eleven years ago) link

two years pass...

"10) over-developed "ethnic" backstory closely mirroring writer's own"

i swear this is a plot to get me to never read international fiction. cuz i see those stories and my eyes glaze over and i reach for a slim volume of ring lardner.

scott seward, Thursday, 31 May 2012 15:20 (eight years ago) link

racist

this guy's a gangsta? his real name's mittens. (Hurting 2), Thursday, 31 May 2012 15:22 (eight years ago) link


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