Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

New Yorker Fiction

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The Millions have helpfully put together an annotated list of all the fiction that appeared in the New Yorker last year. It includes stories by three writers I admire a lot:

‘Awake’ by Tobias Wolff

Wolff is one of my favourite short story writers but really this is just a vignette. He still manages to conjure up a lot from very little though; a callow youth awake next to his sleeping girlfriend in the middle fo the night, picking at the scabs of his own self-doubt whilst at the same time inadvertantly revealing even more about his character.

‘The Bell Ringer’ by John Burnside

This is a very slowly told and gentle story. Burnside’s style is always somewhat detached – even in his superb memoir, A Lie About My Father – but usually it has a greater sense of immediacy and it is frequently punctuated by violence. Here the story resolutely mirrors its quiet, isolated setting as it describes a woman struggling with her desire for something other than her life.

‘Lostronaut’ by Jonathan Lethem

Both the above stories could be considered typical New Yorker fare. Lethem’s science fiction story of an astronaut trapped in orbit is different but shares the same atmosphere of muted despair. Presented as a series of letters to a lover on Earth it chronicles life in the remorseless face of entropy.

All three have written better but they are worth checking out and the list is definitely worth a perusal.

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Written by Martin

5 January 2009 at 21:11

2 Responses

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  1. [...] 5 comments The New Yorker published another SF story this week: ‘The Invasion From Outer Space’ by Steven Millhauser. It is a nice, [...]

  2. [...] in fact, are so compelling, they were a standalone short story in the New Yorker last year called “Lostronaut”. And “Lostronaut”, I think, is the Chronic City that might have been; everything [...]


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