It doesn’t look like anyone’s really noticed this Lionel Shriver story in this week’s New Yorker yet. (I hadn’t, until a friend pointed it out to me last night in an email. (Body: “IT IS FUCKED UP.”))
It is behind the subscriber-wall, and most people don’t get to their “paper” issues till the weekend, after all, and also people tend to talk about fact more than fiction in the New Yorker. But… well, her story is pretty brutal, as you would expect from the author of We Need to Talk About Kevin, but and then? Well we must spoil it to talk about it. So. We will give you some white space here to avert your eyes.
** SPOILERS **
Right SO, the bulk of the story is about this fairly spoiled young girl traveling in Africa who almost dies while swimming. It’s pretty tart about her and her youth, but then, young people are pretty terrible, so that’s natural. (I was!)
BUT THEN. Then there is a quick-moving back-end to the story, where she grows up and lives in Manhattan and suddenly it becomes all Ripped From The Headlines. This particular headline, in fact: “First Date Ends in a Deadly Fall From a 17th-Story Balcony.” I mean, the story basically tracks fact-for-fact.
What’s even mega-weirder is that the woman who died this summer on that first date on a rooftop actually… used to work for the New Yorker?
I mean maybe this is a nice tribute? But not really.
Quite annoyingly, in a brief Q&A on the New Yorker site, Shriver is asked about this and just completely dodges the question. But then it’s a promotional interview, so.
This is weird. I’m not sure why it feels weird even? I think it feels weird because she’s so cruel to the girl early on; it’s an anti-memorial, in some ways. Oh I don’t know. Fiction! What can you do.