...to the scene of the crime
I have a (fictional) story in The New Yorker this week. For some days I hesitated to post a link to it here because there’s a paywall. But I decided I would because even if you don’t have a New Yorker subscription, I’m pretty sure they allow anyone access to a few pieces a month. Plus I’m including an essay I wrote some years ago that probably just about none of you have seen.
So the story is titled Minority Report and it revisits a story called Secretary which I wrote in 1985, which was rejected by every magazine I sent it to and finally published in my first collection Bad Behavior. Secretary is a spare story about a very young, very awkward and sexually inexperienced girl named Debby (I don’t say her age in the original story, but in my mind she was 17) living in a ridiculously stunted psychic landscape, and who, on getting her first job, is ridiculously spanked and jerked off on by her employer for typing errors. It sounds like a porn cliche but actually I took the idea almost directly from a newspaper story. And, when I imagined it, I took it seriously, telling it as the story of a young woman of “of unformed strength and intelligence, [traits] which have never been reflected back to her by the world around her and so have become thwarted, angry and peculiar.” Someone who’s apparent passivity “is so willed and extreme that it is an act of mutually annihilating aggression.” Not someone broken or weak, but someone who’s fierce desire to live and feel has been ignored and thus twisted. (Quotes from essay referenced above.)
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