It has arrived. The New Yorker's double fiction issue. And I know it's incredibly obvious for me to write about JSF's story, but you know what, he hasn't published any fiction in YEARS, and its very exciting after a memoir about vegetarianism and some random editing work. No, I haven't read Eating Animals, and yes, I know I should.
His latest short story, 'Here We Aren't, So Quickly,' opens with a nervous energy similar to that in Extremely Loud and Everything is Illuminated. So much so that I got anxious reading the online version after work on Monday in fear of hating it (would there be anything worse!?) and waited an entire day for my paper copy to arrive to finish the story.
LUCKILY for the sake of my own sanity, after 2-3 paragraphs you will understand his prose, fall head over heels with its tone, and have tears streaming down your face at the final paragraph for the sheer beauty of it all. (It doesn't take much.)
It's the story of a lifetime and a relationship not unlike Didion's pedestrian heartpouring in The Year of Magical Thinking-- a review of the everyday made extraordinary, and the regret that comes with missing it. It's told through a sentence structure that you'll want to underline like we did in college, in hopes of adding it's brilliance to our own DNA. A yellow highlighter in place of originality, I suppose. A taste:
"I was always watching movie trailers on my computer. You were always wiping surfaces. I was always hearing my father's laugh and never remembering his face. You broke every one's heart until you suddenly couldn't [...] At a certain point you became convinced that you were always reading yesterday's newspaper. At a certain point I stopped agonizing over being understood, and became over-reliant on my car's G.P.S You couldn't tolerate trace amounts of jelly in the peanut butter jar. I couldn't tolerate gratuitously boisterous laughter. At a certain point I could stare without pretext or apology. Isn't it funny that if God were to reveal and explain Himself, the majority of the world would necessarily be disappointed? At a certain point you stopped wearing sunscreen."
Jonathan, you ol' sap!
Also online you will find an absolute treat-- along with lovely little line drawing portraits, each of the '20 under 40' authors answered a brief questionnaire. FUN!
While JSF's answers were perfectly satisfying, it was his wife, Nicole Krauss, who said it best. When asked what makes a piece of fiction work, she answered, "It's the ability to remind us of ourselves, of who we are in our essence, and at the same time deliver a revelation." And let me tell you, no one does it better than Krauss.... Except maybe Foer.
NEXT UP, Krauss's short story in the June 28th issue. And if you still aren't convinced to read The NYer's fiction, MIGHT I REMIND YOU that in past issues, Krauss's short story The Last Words on Earth eventually turned into The History of Love, and Jon's The Very Ridged Search turned into Everything is Illuminated. They know what they're talking about, those editors over there at Big Bad Conde Nast. So we should probably do our part, and listen.