The first story of the year begins with a distant omniscient narrator describing the hard, challenging life of the mountaineer and then enters the voice of the true narrator who enters a mountain hut and converses with other climbers. (“Across from me was a tall, large man, middle-aged, with whom I exchanged a few words about the weather and our plans for the following day. This is standard conversation, like the classic opening moves of a chess game, where what matters, much more than what one says (which is brief and obvious), is the tone in which one says it.”) The men in the hut eat and then drink wine, and then tell stories of foolish acts in the mountains. We first hear the story of the large man, who describes a harrowing climb and having to be rescued in the dark. And then another man tells his story, a similar rough climb, the point of which—I think—is that hard lessons make you stronger. Although the language in the story is elegant, the structure is peculiar as the narrator plays barely any role at all in the story except to listen to the tales of others and to absorb their wisdom. Ultimately, it isn’t satisfying.
January 8, 2007: “Bear Meat” by Primo Levi.
As this post may suggest, it is my intention to make a record of all of the fiction in The New Yorker this year, in large part to push me to keep up to date with the magazine instead of letting them pile up in the kitchen. And the study. And the bedroom. No, this year I'm going to read them--the fiction, at least--and will comment here.