Benjamin Chambers writes:
I’ve been catching up on recent New Yorker stories, so I thought I’d provide a quick-ish summary of them, using a model I ripped off from Martin. [Warning: there are spoilers below.]“The Slows,” by Gail Hareven (trans. Yaacov Jeffrey Green), May 4, 2009
No doubt the savages were a riddle that science had not yet managed to solve, and, the way things seemed now, it never would be solved. According to the laws of nature, every species should seek to multiply and expand, but for some reason this one appeared to aspire to wipe itself out. Actually, not only itself but also the whole human race. Slowness was an ideology, but not only an ideology. As strange as it sounds, it was a culture, a culture similar to that of our forefathers.Verdict: You’ll like it if you don’t mind reductive parables disguised as fiction: humans invariably find reasons to justify their appetite for genocide.
The horror made me wander from one place to another; I wasn’t able to think, I wasn’t able to understand, until I saw a back riddled with bullets and, farther away, a blindfolded head. Then I realized what it was. I looked at the inspector and saw that he, too, had understood, and he ordered us to stay where we were, not to move, and went back into town to get instructions.Verdict: Absorbing, economical, but too abrupt. The implications of the surprise discovery at the end need more time to unfold, to become something more than an unpleasant event that touches no one.
Alice cocked her head. She did not hear exactly what Titania was saying. Everything was filtered through the same normalizing glamour that hid the light in Titania’s face, that gave her splendid gown the appearance of a tracksuit, that had made the boy appear clothed when they brought him in, when in fact he had been as naked as the day he was born. The same spell made it appear that he had a name, though his parents had only ever called him Boy, never having learned his mortal name, because he was the only boy under the hill. The same spell sustained the impression that Titania worked as a hairdresser, and that Oberon owned an organic orchard, and that their names were Trudy and Bob.Verdict: Delightful though sad; a bit reminiscent of Sylvia Townsend Warner’s “Elphenor and Weasel.” The story only falters in its final paragraph, where the fairies are at a loss and the final lines seem insufficient to bring the piece to a close. [UPDATE: I see I didn’t make it clear that “Tiny Feast” is really an amazing story, and definitely worth reading.]
Hello! I’m Emily Gordon, an editor, critic, copywriter, and pre-web internet nut. Emdashes, born in 2004, spent many years as a New Yorker fan blog. The project garnered some nice compliments and press.
The blog’s now treading the territories of punctuation, publications, movies, design, and other things that stir me.
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