Skip to main content

New Yorker Fiction Review #122: "Honey Bunny" by Julianne Pachico

Issue: Nov. 9, 2015

Story: "Honey Bunny" by Julianne Pachico

Rating: $$

Review: Stories about drug use and drug addiction can be a tricky row to hoe and I'm not particularly a fan. One of my all time favorite writers, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, wrote the Moby Dick of "drug fiction," Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas...and it wasn't even fiction. Anyway, Thompson succeeded in turning heavy drug use into a hilarious act of existential daring, pushing oneself as close to the line of tolerance as possible, and reporting the results. But he's been just about the only writer I've ever known who's succeeded at this.

Trying to turn drug use into some kind of adventurous act of rebellion against the system, of living on the edge, etc. is not something of which I particularly approve and it's a type of writing/fiction that I think worked at one time but generally doesn't (or hasn't) anymore, especially since drug use is now not associated with the "counter-culture" like it was in the 60s. In other words: doing drugs isn't "cool" or daring anymore and therefore anyone who tries to write about it as if it is, might as well be writing about a trip to the grocery store...which, would probably be more interesting.

The OTHER avenue of so-called "drug fiction" is to show the dangers and harsh realities of addiction. This kind of fiction is something I can get behind, because, well, drugs aren't good for you and seriously eff up your life and therefore should not be extolled as a worthwhile activity by any civilized person or artist.

All of that is preface to my remarks on "Honey Bunny," which shows the darker side of a young Columbian woman's addiction to -- not exactly sure if it's speed or what, specifically -- drugs that keeps her locked in a somewhat manageable cycle of desperation and loneliness, as her life seems to be made up of minor episodes with men interspersed with visits to her dealer, Paco.

We do get some nice details from inside the young woman's head; particularly nice are the different objects that seem to inhabit her bag of pills as she plucks them out of her purse. At one time her fingers are like light sabres as she pulls out a pill, another time the bag is filled with blades of grass that she has to pluck out one by one before grabbing a pill. The woman is in a fragile state of mind, for sure, but I'm not convinced Pachico knew what she wanted this story to be.

Is this story supposed to be a story about the dangers of drug use and addiction, or one of those yawn-inducing, "I'm young and single in the city and doing too much ****" kind of stories. In either event I don't think it succeeds

What is mildly interesting are the main character's recollections of her childhood in Columbia (she that effed up) and it would've been interesting to hear more about this.
Julianne Pachico...I think.
now lives in New York City) and of her flight to the U.S., presumably as her parents fled prosecution or danger associated with the collapse of the Columbian drug cartels in the early 90s. To me these remembrances provide the really interesting context for why the young woman is so effed up (and, she's not really even

Two stars because, even though I was lukewarm on the story itself, there was something about Pachico's prose that was dark and psychological and succeeded in creating a dark, seductive mood. I wanted to know more about this woman, but not because Pachico didn't succeed in painting an interesting character, but because she dropped enough details to make the character intriguing while leaving a lot to the imagination.


Popular posts from this blog

New Yorker Fiction Review: "The Apologizer" by Milan Kundera

Issue: May 4, 2015

Rating: $$

Review: It took me five years and three separate attempts to finish Milan Kundera's famous novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, but in spite of that, quotes and insights from that book still rattle round my head on a weekly basis. What I mean to say is: my feelings on Kundera are very similar to my feelings on Haruki Murakami. I enjoy reading his work, but in small doses, like this short story.

Like Murakami, Kundera uses elements of magical realism, but where in a Murakami story you might encounter a flying dolphin or a disappearing hotel or a person who has lived his whole life in the same room, refusing to leave, Kundera's magical realism offers more direct insights and perspective on real life.

In Kundera's worlds, time and space are malleable and everything that ever happened in history is happening at the same time, and the narrator is a completely omniscient, caring, witty, and hands-on god-like being.

And so it is with "The Apo…

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…

A Piece of Advice I Learned From My Grandfather

My grandfather was one of the most learned men I know. He read widely and voraciously, and not just in the sciences (he was a doctor); he loved politics, philosophy, and great literature as well. Whenever he finished a book he would write his thoughts about the book in the front cover and then sign and date it. To this day every once in a while I will open a book from my bookshelf or my mother's bookshelf, or at one of my family members' homes, and there will be my grandfather's handwriting. He was also a great giver of his books; if you remarked that you liked a particular one or wanted to read it, you were almost sure to take it home with you.

Reading is a very solitary pursuit but my grandfather was not a solitary person. He relished having family and friends around him which is convenient because he was blessed with a lot of both. And he carried out his intellectual life in a very "public" way as well. He was, in some ways, an intellectual evangelist. If he r…