Skip to main content

New Yorker Fiction Reviews: "The Late Novels of Gene Hackman" by Rivka Galchen

Today's story comes from the Dec. 9th issue. "The Late Novels of Gene Hackman," by Rivka Galchen, explores J's relationship with her aging stepmother Q as they travel to a writers' conference in Key West.

Essentially, through their experiences together, the people they meet, J comes to have a more complex view on her stepmother and on aging in general. Kind of the "Gee whiz, maybe old people aren't as doughty and guileless as I thought" kind of thing.

This story's really great if you like reading about aging stepmothers and about senior citizens standing around talking at cocktail parties. But if you're, gee, EVERYONE ELSE IN THE GALAXY then you might not want to operate heavy machinery after reading this one.

Total snooze fest.

Oh, and I'm sure the more erudite among you will sound a hue and cry, saying "Wait, wait...you don't GET it! This story is referencing The Late Novels of Eudora WELTY (or whatever) and, and, and..." Save your breath for cooling your oatmeal. I'm way behind and there's stories coming each week. No time to dissect and cross-examine a story about senior citizens standing around at a writers' convention.

Comments

Brent Shearer said…
It's hard to say much abt this story as I haven't read it. Best not to be too dismissive because the author is a doctor and could save your life if you have some kind of a seizure at the podium when she comes to your reading. Cute, too.

Brent Shearer

Popular posts from this blog

New Yorker Fiction Review #146: "Three Short Moments in a Long Life" by John L'Heureux

Issue: May 9, 2016

Story: "Three Short Moments in a Long Life" by John L'Heureux

Rating: $

Review: I feel like this is a somewhat tired technique, straight out of Creative Writing 101: write a story consisting of three or four different snapshots or snippets out of a character's life at different ages, sort of like a series of written photographs. Fun perhaps, but strikes me as a bit amateurish. However, I also think L'Heureux succeeds here by pushing it a bit further, playing with the character's tentative attempts at something close to faith -- in childish, adult, and mature adult ways -- and tying all three "Short Moments" together in a subtle and readily decipherable way.

L'Heureux's prose and his frank humor and his ability to glorify and find the meaning in the mundane events and thoughts of every day life, and thereby turn the life of an ordinary person into a drama with meaning and significance puts me in mind of John Irving. As well a…

Water Review: San Pellegrino 250ml Bottle

Damn you, tiny little bottle of San Pellegrino. So little. So cute. But what are you really good for other than to make me wish I had a full bottle of Pellegrino? 
Good as a palate cleanser after a nice double espresso, I will give it that. But little else. The suave yet chaotic burst of Pellegrino bubbliness is still there, but with each sip you feel the tragedy of being that much closer to the end of the bottle, that much faster.

This is a bottle of water made specifically for the frustrated, for the meticulous, for the measurers among us with a penchant for the dainty. This water does not love you in the wild, on a sunny porch or with the raucous laughter of friends. No...much the opposite. Whatever that may be.

Best drunk in tiny, tiny sips, while forcing oneself through an unreadable and depressing Russian novel one does not want to read but feels one should, on a cold, wet day in December that promises four months of gloom and depression...or in pairs or threes and poured over …

New Yorker Fiction Review #151: "The Bog Girl" by Karen Russell

From the June 20 issue...

My loyal readers (if there are still any, which I doubt) will know I'm usually not a fan of Magical Realism, which, as you may also know, is Karen Russell's stock in trade. That said, there's nothing I love more than having my antipathy for magical realism shattered by an awesome story like "The Bog Girl."

Briefly, an Irish teenager discovers the body of a young woman who as been buried in a bog for over 2,000 years and begins to date her. What more do you need, right? If I'd read that one-line description somewhere else, and wasn't on a mission to review every New Yorker short story, I doubt I'd have read "The Bog Girl." But maybe I should start doing a George Costanza and do the opposite of everything I think I should do.

Where Russell succeeds here is in two main areas: 1.) Making us really love Cillian, the teenager who falls in love with the bog girl, and 2.) pulling the unbelievable trick making the characters…