Skip to main content

New Yorker Fiction Review #114: "Chicken Hill" by Joy Williams

Issue: Sept. 14, 2015

Story: "Chicken Hill" by Joy Williams

Rating: Meh

Review: So I have a confession to make: I'm way, way behind on my New Yorker short story reviewing and this project has long ago ceased to be "fun" and started to be a real burden. However, that does not mean I'm going to quit. That might just mean my reviews become short and un-informative to anyone -- including myself. But hey, this is a BLOG after all. I'm sure I've long since lost any "serious" literary people from my readership and am left with a handful of people (hey Luke, how you doing bro?) who are either so loyal and devoted to me or simply have nothing better to do, or are internet comment robots. I started this project primarily for me, and if, for the time being, it serves me to write simple, insulting, cursory, meaningless, un-informative reviews of these stories, well that's just the way it's gonna have to be, folks.

That said...I pretty much hated this story. It was mind-numbingly, irritatingly difficult to get through. I have the dim impression that this story is about a dying lady. It puts me in mind of the ending of Fiona McFarlane's The Night Guest (oddly enough, I discovered McFarlane's writing because of this project..BOOM...mind blown) but that doesn't redeem this story in any way.

If anything valuable or interesting, there was the cute series of interactions between the old dying lady and the (possibly imaginary) young girl who daily comes to visit her.

I was happy this story was short and I'll be even happier to be done with this review and toss this issue into the recycle bin. Later...

Comments

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…

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…

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 …