Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from March, 2013

New Yorker Fiction Reviews: "Checking Out" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Each week I review the short fiction from the latest issue of The New Yorker. However, since the issue comes out on Monday, and I get it any time between Wednesday and Saturday, sometimes the reviews are a bit late...

(Okay, I'm reeeally far behind here, so this will be brief. This is the story from the Mar. 18th issue.)

One of the great things about fiction, even in this age of hyper-available information, is that it can transport you to unfamiliar places or, even more significantly, show you life through an unfamiliar perspective. "Checking Out" is both of those. Set in working-class London, the story follows six months in the life of Obinze, a young man from Nigeria who has come to the country on his mother's student visa and is attempting to have a "sham marriage" as they call it in Britain, to a U.K. citizen in order to get his permanent papers.

I know nothing about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, other than that she's Nigerian and she writes in pretty s…

New Yorker Fiction Reviews: Will Mackin's "Kattekoppen"

Each week I review the short fiction from the latest issue of The New Yorker. However, since the issue comes out on Monday, and I get it any time between Wednesday and Saturday, sometimes the reviews are a bit late...

Once again, this is the fiction from last week's New Yorker (see disclaimer above). Set in Logar, Afghanistan, present day, "Kattekoppen" is a brief vignette about a U.S. Army artillery detachment engaged deep in the hills of a hostile country. Partly focusing on a Dutch (though enlisted in the U.S. Army) howitzer liaison named Levi, and partly focusing on the main narrator, of whom we don't really learn much. The story is partly about the mundane things that occupy the mind during an excursion thousands of miles from home, where death and violence are always around the corner, and partly about how men in combat must necessarily focus on those things so they do not focus on the reality that their own lives are on the line every minute of every day. The …

New Yorker Fiction Reviews: Colm Toibin's "Summer of '38"

Each week I review the short fiction from the latest issue of The New Yorker. However, since the issue comes out on Monday, and I get it any time between Wednesday and Saturday, sometimes the reviews are a bit late...

Colm Toibin's "Summer of '38" is a not-very-compelling short story, set partly during the Spanish Civil War in a small town outside Madrid, and partly in the modern day (-ish) era, in that same small town. Essentially, an old woman is forced to confront the memory of a love affair she had during the Civil War, with one of General Franco's soldiers; an affair that produced a child, and which caused her to have to marry a different man in order to cover up her out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Late in the story, her old flame sort of attempts to return to the town and almost runs into their illegitimate daughter, however the old woman averts the encounter.

Okay, I've already made known my attitude toward this story. But let me explain why:

a.) It's a …

Overheard at the Papal Conclave Cocktail Hour

The following are actual, real, not-made-up snippets of conversations picked up on a hidden mic, by our very own Sub-Cardinal Frankie DelGiacomo on his trip to the Papal Conclave, during cocktail hour...

***

"Who do I talk to about getting the travel reimbursement? I’m still on the hook from the last conclave."
"Ha. You can forget that money, pal. At least you get to stay in the Vatican! I’m in a Sofitel on the other side of Rome. Deplorable. Maybe if they stopped consecrating Cardinals like they were giving out tickets to a Kevin Federline concert..."
***
"Hey, nice chasuble. Is that Brioni?"
"No, Armani Couture. Hand made."
"Really? Very nice."
[Hushed] "Actually it’s off the rack. But who can tell, right? I bet you couldn't tell, could you?"
***
"Cardinal Vincenzo, is it? From Mexico or something? Buenos Aires! Right. Joel Schmenglewitz. West Chester Diocese of New York. We meet at the Rio Conference in 2008, no…