"The TV"
by Ben Loory
originally published in the April 12, 2010 issue of The New Yorker.
Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage.

Click for a larger image.

When I went to see which story was up for the week, I glanced at the first paragraph, then I read it, then I read the next. I had to stop because I needed to get ready for work, but otherwise I would have read the whole thing right there. I have now had time to go back and finish the online version (sorry print, I’ll save the articles for you).

What a strange story, which follows last week’s strange story. Often I find that I get more excited to read these strange stories than the more conventional stories in The New Yorker. Last year, my favorites included many of the year’s most bizarre stories. I think it’s because I can often find something intriguing in the unique story, though this is not the type of fiction I like to read when I pick up a novel.

Anyway, “The TV” begins when a man doesn’t feel like going to work. He calls in with an excuse and then flips on the television. Amazingly, he finds that what he is watching is himself, at work, going through the day. The man decides to stay home the next day, too, just to see what happens. Again, there he is, working away.

The man does the same thing at work everyday; it is not very exciting. But somehow watching himself do it from inside his apartment, through the TV, is absolutely fascinating.

The man does go to work the next day, but he is again surprised: he finishes his work early, for the first time ever. With gratitude to the man on TV for doing so much work, he goes home early.

I was completely engaged at this point. Unfortunately, the story also begins to spin out of control here. Not that that’s a bad thing, but it began to become more bizarre and less interesting to me — until the end, that is. In the end, I was again very interested in how the author kept things going, particularly in his verb tenses.

So I thought this was a worthwhile read. I’m not sure there is much more to it than what it says, though that’s what I was hoping for when the story began.

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By |2016-06-09T14:49:19-04:00April 5th, 2010|Categories: Ben Loory, New Yorker Fiction|Tags: |4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Trevor Berrett April 5, 2010 at 10:14 am

    New fiction up for discussion!

  2. Trevor Berrett April 5, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Got around to reading this one promptly this week. My thoughts are posted above.

  3. Joe April 10, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    What’s going on at the New Yorker?? There has a been a long run of gimmicky stories, as if they no longer trust that unadorned storytelling by a wise and mature voice could hold any interest (I’m thinking Tobias Wolff, Alice Munro, Michael Chabon…)

    The problem with these kinds of stories for me is that I usually feel like I’ve read it all before (in this case, “The TV” reminded me of something by Italo Calvino). That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but when I see that we’re going down one of these roads, the story needs to work that much harder to connect with me. (Or maybe it’s me who needs to work harder!)

    It’s like movies with special effects. I’d much rather see something like “The Hours” or “A Room with a View” than “Avatar” or “The Dark Knight” because I’m more interested in thoughtful reflections of reality rather than chase scenes and explosions. To me, the New Yorker has been serving up a lot of chase scenes and explosions lately.

  4. Trevor Berrett April 12, 2010 at 10:31 am

    I agree with you about this one, Joe. Not much here other than showy writing. However, I do like that The New Yorker mixes it up, giving a bit of room for young writers like Mr. Loory. Incidentally, his biographic material at the beginning of the magazine says simply where he resides. Nothing about a book coming out or about books previously written. Perhaps we’ll see more material from him in the future and that it will be more mature.

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