"La Vita Nuova" by Allegra Goodman originally published in the May 3, 2010 issue of The New Yorker. Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage.
I still haven’t read the comments below, but I did see in Kevin’s that he considered this possibly the best story of the year so far. I completely enjoyed it, but I’m not sure I’d put it above some of the others. Still, this is a wonderfully captured narrative of quiet desperation growing more quiet and more desperate.
The story begins when Amanda’s fiancé leaves her: “You are a very dark person,” he said when he left. There is then a great scene where Amanda, who teaches art at a local school, takes her unused wedding dress for the children to embellish and paint. The principal, of course, didn’t appreciate her bringing her private life to the school, and Amanda was not hired on the next year. Instead, she becomes the babysitter of one of the boys in the school.
What I liked most about this story was the way Goodman makes the reader feel the quiet little jabs, none of them overly devastating but collectively they create such a heavy cloud, wonderfully rendered in a soft, unshowy prose that sometimes brings in Dante.
This is what we read this magazine for.