Skip to main content

New Yorker Fiction Review #147: "A Life of Adventure and Delight" by Akhil Sharma

Issue: May 16, 2016

Story: "A Life of Adventure and Delight" by Akhil Sharma

Rating: $/Meh

Review: Second time I've heard from Akhil Sharma in the pages of the New Yorker fiction section, and while my memory is foggy about "We Didn't Like Him" (even reading my own review doesn't help (hey, it was three years ago)) I know that I didn't like this story too much better.

The main character Gautama isn't very likable, in fact he sounds kind of like a prick. I understand that he's dealing with some elements of sexual repression he's been saddled with through no fault of his own, other than that of being born Indian and having moved to the U.S.

What Sharma seems to have shown us here is the thin end of the wedge of a growing habit of sexual deviance that will likely continue all throughout Gautama's marriage to Nirmala, a socially-appropriate mate whom he begins to court during the story.

I don't know. Doesn't seem like anything ground-breaking or worth writing home about, here. The only bright spot, the only moment of humanness when we start to feel anything like friendliness toward Gautama is when he makes a prostitute laugh by asking her if he can cup her breasts while she jumps up and down. Showing us this side of Gautama earlier in the story would have been a wise move, and made me a lot more attached/interested in what happens to him.


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 …