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Showing posts from April, 2013

New Yorker Fiction Reviews: "Mexican Manifesto" by Roberto Bolano

Each week I review the short fiction in the latest issue of The New Yorker. Hey, it's harder than it looks...

Issue: April 22, 2013

Story: "Mexican Manifesto"

Author: Roberto Bolano (say Bo-LAN-yo)

Plot: A man looks back at his youthful adventures in a series of Mexico City bathhouses with his friend/girlfriend Laura,probably taking place in the 60s or 70s, though we're not quite sure. One particular adventure sticks out in his mind, in which some teenage boys, sort of traveling bathhouse performers, perform a sexual act on each other, then one of them has sex with Laura.

Review: In the U.S. we generally associate public bathhouses with homosexuality and homosexual sex. However, (and forgive me if my bathhouse history isn't accurate) in a different time they used to be much more common in this country, particularly in urban areas with large populations of Eastern European immigrants, as places where people relaxed or socialized. I'm assuming the AIDS epidemic of t…

New Yorker Fiction Review/Analysis: "Night of the Satellite" by T.Coraghessan Boyle

Each week I review the short fiction in the latest issue of The New Yorker. What can I say? It's a calling...

Issue: April 15th, 2013

Story: "Night of the Satellite"

Author: T. Coraghessan Boyle (whom you may know as T.C. Boyle)

Plot: Basically, a couple come across another couple who are fighting. The man doesn't want to help, the woman does. They leave the scene. Later they fight, they drink, and the man gets hit by a piece of space debris from falling satellite. They fight about that, until the woman throws the space debris away, and the man  leaves, exasperated. But we get the sense he'll be back.

Analysis: The whole thing about the piece of satellite debris is interesting because it, quite literally, drops from the sky and interrupts both the story and the character's lives. Neither the reader nor the characters can make any real sense of it. However, it's interesting how this device works in the story.

The main couple in this story seems to be on the roc…

New Yorker Fiction Reviews: "Valentine" by Tessa Hadley

Each week I review the short fiction from the latest issue of The New Yorker. Or should I say, the latest one that's been delivered to me...

Issue: April 8th, 2013

Story: "Valentine"

Author:Tessa Hadley

Plot: Essentially, a teenaged English girl named Stella, barely out of grammar school, falls in love with a wispy, long-haired, Galoise-smoking, Beckett-reading (and oh so emotionally & sexually unavailable) hippie/ster prep-school boy in the hazy, weed-smokey, long-haired, halcyon days of the 70s, when the bloom of culture and liberal values that took place in San Francisco in the middle-60s had seeped into bourgeois culture around the world. They lay together in the garden and smoke weed, under the permission of the neighbor's "cool" parents, they listen to Janis, Bob Dylan, Velvet Underground, they talk about moving to the West Village, they admire Communism, and they hate their parents. After a few months of heavy petting, they have sex twice and Valenti…

New Yorker Fiction Reviews: "The Judge's Will" by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

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...

The New Yorker has been on a bit of a mini-streak lately, publishing a lot of short stories concerning far-flung locations (not always by people from those locations, however); in recent weeks we've had Afghanistan, London, and now--with the late (and I mean late; she apparently died a few days after this story was published in the NYer. God rest her soul) Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's "The Judge's Will"--we have India. Great thing about these kinds of stories is they open your eyes to a new culture while also taking you into the depths (however deep) of the characters' internal lives.

As as a reader, you're not only immersing yourself into the author's world and the character's world, but into the new and foreign place in which the story is…