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Showing posts from August, 2013

New Yorker Fiction Reviews: "Meet the President!" by Zadie Smith

Each week I review the short fiction from a recent issue of The New Yorker. If you told me when I was 12 that I'd be doing this I'd have been like, "Dork. There's no such thing as blogs," and I'd have been right...

Issue: Aug. 12 & 19, 2013

Story: "Meet the President!"

Author:Zadie Smith

(Please note: I've developed a highly sophisticated grading system, which I'll be using from now on.  Each story will now receive a Final Grade of either READ IT or DON'T READ it. See the bottom of the review for this story's grade...after you've read the review, natch.)

Plot: Set in England, far into the future (lets say 2113) a privileged youth of 15, named Bill Peek, encounters a few poor villagers from a small, abandoned coastal town on the southeast shore. He meets a little girl named Aggie, who is going to her sister's funeral. Peek is cut-off from real life by a sophisticated video game system that is implanted in his head, therefore th…

New Yorker Fiction Reviews: "Paranoia" by Shirley Jackson

Each week I review the short fiction from a recent issue of The New Yorker. But in every other way, I'm just like you...

Issue: Aug. 5, 2013

Story: "Paranoia"

Author: Shirley Jackson

Plot: A humble little office-worker type guy named Halloran Beresford -- in 1950s New York -- leaves his Manhattan office at 5:00 p.m. trying to get home as fast as possible to celebrate his wife's birthday with her. However, he soon develops the idea he's being followed by a man in a "light hat." Light hat-man seems to be around every corner, and Beresford becomes more and more frantic. Finally, he makes his way home, where in relief, he flops down in his favorite chair...only to find his paranoia has continued, as he is convinced his wife is working for the man in the light hat (or someone else who is out to get him).

Review: First off: Yes. This is that Shirley Jackson, author of "The Lottery" among other things. Like most high school students, I read "The Lott…

New Yorker Fiction Reviews: "Collectors" by Daniel Alarcon

Each week I review the short fiction from a recent issue of The New Yorker. You would too, if you were me...
Issue: July 29, 2013
Story: "Collectors"
Author: Daniel Alarcon
Plot: Two Mexican men, from completely different walks of life, meet in the country's most infamous prison, Collectors, in the mid-80s. Rogelio is a poor, illiterate campesino turned drug courier; Henry is a playwright who wrote a politically inflammatory play called "The Idiot President," which apparently the government did not find too amusing. Despite their different backgrounds, the two bond in prison through a kind of symbiotic relationship; Rogelio helps Henry survive, Henry provides Rogelio intellectual stimulation. They perform "The Idiot President" in prison; Henry and Rogelio have a romantic relationship. Eventually Henry is released, only to find out that Rogelio and most of the prisoners he knew were killed when a massive prison riot gets quashed by the military.
Review: Yet…

New Yorker Fiction Reviews: "From a Farther Room" by David Gilbert

Each week I review the short fiction from a recent issue of The New Yorker. But only on Tuesdays and Fridays before 2:00 p.m., and on every third Saturday during months that end in -y...

Issue: July 22, 2013

Story: "From a Farther Room"

Author: David Gilbert

Plot: A young businessman, living in a suburb of New York City, goes out for a night on the town with a work colleague, while his own wife and children are out of town. He gets terribly drunk and vomits up a living organism resembling (but not exactly) a baby. He cares for the "baby," growing more attached to it while he decides what to do with it, keeping it a secret from his wife during their phone calls that weekend. Ultimately, he decides to bury it in the backyard, in a box in which he used to keep baseball cards as a child.

Review: This is Gilbert's second story in The New Yorker since Nov. '12, and his second novel, "& Sons" is out now. In other words, what we have here is another promis…