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Showing posts from September, 2013

New Yorker Fiction Reviews: "The Heron" by Dorthe Nors

Each week I review the short fiction from a recent issue of The New Yorker...who said that an English Minor wasn't good for anything?

Issue: Sept. 9th

Story: The Heron

Author: Dorthe Nors

Plot: A creepy, morbid Dutch lady sits by a pond and gets creeped out by the herons. She sees one sick heron laying his head on a bench, and it skeeves her out. Then she remembers when she used to run around the pond with her childhood friend Lorenz. Then she has a twisted day dream about the young mothers who circle the pond with their strollers, imagining what would happen if they swelled up and exploded.

Review: Okay, this story has one major thing going for it; it's short. At barely a page and a half, this is my kind of short story. Nothing makes me read more carefully than when I can see that telltale little black diamond the New Yorker uses at the end of articles peeking at me after only about one page.

The narrator is highly intelligent, but depressed ( the two often go hand in hand, don…

New Yorker Fiction Reviews: "The Colonel's Daughter" by Robert Coover

Each week I review the short fiction from a recent issue of The New Yorker...because the long fiction has too much cholesterol. 

Issue: Sept. 2, 2013

Story: "The Colonel's Daughter"

Author:Robert Coover

Plot: A group of conspirators engaged in a coup d'etat sit in the Colonel's office. Distracted by the sudden appearance of his daughter, serving coffee, brandy, and biscuits, the Colonel watches them to try and discover who could be the Traitor among them. Ultimately, the coup is disrupted, the Colonel killed, and the identity of the Traitor(s) very carefully and subtly revealed.

Review: I'm having an impossibly difficult time trying to work-up a conventional "review" of this story and having written those very words essentially means I've given up. Prose-wise it's kind of like reading a really long, well-written screenplay scene direction. Or rather, an arduously detailed elaboration of a painting, in which the author takes a crowded scene and di…

New Yorker Fiction Reviews: "Victory" by Yu Hua

Each week I review the short fiction from a recent issue of The New Yorker...and by "each week" I
mean anywhere from once a week to once a month....


Issue: Aug. 26, 2013

Story: "Victory"

Author: Yu Hua

Plot: Set in China, a woman, Lin Hong, discovers her husband, Li Hanlin, is having an affair. She confronts him about it, but does not get the reaction she wants from him: that he would fall to his knees and beg her to forgive him. Instead, they engage in a frosty battle of wills, leading them almost to the divorce court; however, an almost benign incident involving Li Hanlin's lover forces them to realize how much they love each other and want to continue the marriage.

Review: This story is nearly a month old now, so I'll be blunt. I feel like this story would have meant a lot more to me, had more impact, if I were more familiar with Chinese culture and the expectations and demands placed on men and women in that culture.

The action in the story is all very subtl…