Reviewing reviewing

When it's not 103 degrees, and when our air conditioner is working, it's not a problem to find time to read and review one New Yorker story a week. But why am I having trouble even opening the Atlantic Monthly fiction issue? It's like a huge homework assignment that I just look at nervously every day. And even when I do ... am I really so shallow as to vastly prefer those skinny New Yorker columns and that lovely font? Moreover, I find that I like it when things are voluntary and not obligatory. I -- we -- may get to the AM stories, may not. I am retracting the promise to review all those stories. (Hey, if someone wants to pay me a salary to do it... otherwise, I have to maintain time for my own work.)


cek said...

I, too, admit I haven't yet cracked any of the fiction in this issue, but I did read Curtis' piece about unexpectedly shooting into literary stardom, and I recommend it to all of you. It's humble and funny and gives an interesting insight into what the process of publishing a book could (keep the faith!) be like.

Jane said...

I read Joyce Carol Oates' and Nathan Englander's stories. Englander's, I liked--an skillfully done first person plural story; the main character is a collective "we" and yet the story has the intimacy of a first-person narrator.

I was entertained but underwhelmed by Oates' story. Without giving it away (there is an element of mystery/suspense to it), the core plot premise is an interesting one, but felt inadequately linked with the emotional and character aspects of the story, so it was ultimately unsatisfying. I felt like I was looking at the blueprint for a story (yep, there's the plan, the intention; it all adds up; looks good) but not an actual, finished work.

I enjoyed reading Sittenfeld's piece, too, though I was a little perplexed as to the point of it. Yes, the experience of being an overnight sensation certainly seems surreal, odd, thrilling, etc. Fun and funny anecdotes. But what am I supposed to take away from them? What was the overall effect of all the hubub on Sittenfeld's life / writing / self?