"Appetite" by Saïd Sayrafiesadeh Originally published in the March 1, 2010 issue of The New Yorker. Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage.
Last night I read this short story on the way home from work. I have indicated elsewhere that I am not a February person. With all the false starts to Spring, I start to get cranky! Surprisingly, that worked for this story — at least somewhat.
First, I liked the way the story opened. The narrator is nervously trying to figure out how to ask for a raise. We know it’s not a great job because he wants a raise from $8 to $10 (or to $10 from $8, or up to $10, etc.). It’s nothing new, but I felt the writing didn’t get in the way, and, as I said above, February may have affected me: either I sympathized with the poor guy, or I liked watching him squirm.
Turns out the narrator is on a dead-end job at a cheap restaurant, the kind where you might get a grilled cheese sandwich that is burned on the outside but where the cheese is not melted. He’s 25 and resents the high school valedictorian who said something along these lines: “some of us will go to college, some of us to the military, and some of us will immediately join the work force.”
The story takes on a new dimension about halfway through when an anorexic girl joins the workforce at the restaurant as a new waiter. I’m not sure I followed all that comes after, and, sadly, I didn’t really care to put forth the work necessary to follow the story. And I don’t think it was February because the story had already been at least somewhat enjoyable. That’s not to say it was a complete failure. I’m just going to tack this one up as a below par week but not an out-and-out stinker.