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Is it possible for The New Yorker to publish fiction that is not terrible?

Doesn't seem like it. Someone on Facebook who is, of course, off to Bread Loaf (see the last blog on here), posts this bit from a New Yorker story by someone who is, of course, off to Bread Loaf, as an example of wonderful writing. Let us laugh together.

"When I swim at the public pool, I wear sunglasses so I can admire the hairless chest of the nineteen-year-old lifeguard. I love it that he, a child, really, is guarding me, fiercest of warriors, a mother, strong as stinky cheese, with a ripe, moldy, melted rotten center of such intense complexity and flavor it would kill a boy of his tender age."

How bad is that? Can you write worse than that? It's like a send-up of overwrought, tacky, 1980s romance genre writing. The title is "A Love Story." Gee. Another brilliant title. I wish I was making this up. I wish I was trying to come up with an example of the worst writing I could imagine. Maybe you have a character in a story, and they suck at writing, and to show how bad they are at it, you let the reader look at their newest manuscript, and this is the example you see. But nope, this is what The New Yorker holds up as the best writing in the world. No wonder no one reads anymore. Why should you?

Of course, the excerpt does the requisite feminist bit that you have to have in these things right now. Pandering. Exploiting. "Strong as stinky cheese." Great. Awesome. Quite the honorific. Why, my friend Sarah, she's been through a lot in life, she's really strong, she's as strong as stinky cheese! Can you even imagine saying that to somebody? You'd have no friends. No one would associate with you.


It doesn't even track. These are different kind of strengths. An odor and its strength do not work in a metaphor about personal strength. You'd be knocked down a grade in junior high with writing like that. Then you have the "ripe, moldy, melted rotten center." Can't be all of these at once. Something melted isn't moldy. Nor is it rotten.


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