by Rivka Galchen
Originally published in the March 19, 2012 issue of The New Yorker.

I have read little by Rivka Galchen, but didn’t really enjoy the last piece she published in The New Yorker, “The Entire Northern Side Was Covered With Fire,” which was part of the “20 Under 40” (now nearly two years ago!). This is a short one, but, you guessed it, I haven’t been able to read it yet. I’m still hung up on the fact I haven’t read Munro’s latest, so how can I move on until then? I do have the goal — I promise — to catch up completely and be more timely. In the meantime, I’m enjoying your comments!

Liked it? Take a second to support The Mookse and the Gripes on Patreon!
By |2016-07-11T23:39:49-04:00March 13th, 2012|Categories: New Yorker Fiction, Rivka Galchen|Tags: |3 Comments


  1. Ken March 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Well, I guess I’m the first! I liked this. It is the kind of story I appreciate-where the narrator (whether a character or, in this case, not a specific character) has a strong, flowing voice. This reminded me, in some ways, of a lighter, less challenging David Foster Wallace. Like with Wallace, there are long sentences and it ends rather abruptly without any closure. A mother and daughter meet for coffee. The mother has many opinions about how the daughter should live her life and is somewhat holding her over a financial barrel. She had bought a condo in the daughter’s name and has sold it for a tidy profit but doesn’t want to relinquish the money and yet is hardly trying to cheat the daughter. She wants to give the daughter the money once the daughter does what she, the mother, thinks she should do-go back to her husband and have kids. Do we simply want to control people when we try to guide their actions? Or is a form of love? Is it, perhaps, both? No answer here but I was caught up in the narration. I also, unlike some readers at this site, liked El Morro by David Means which also had a breathless narration.

  2. Aaron March 25, 2012 at 3:08 am

    Ken, I’m in total agreement, and it’s absolutely DFW-esque. I wrote about it here (http://shortaday.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/rivka-galchen-appreciation/).

    However, I do think there’s closure here, and the author works well both within and toward the theme of the story, this double sense of “appreciation.” Agreed, though, in that there’s no true answer. Just tangled facts, left to the reader to escape from!

  3. Saffta March 29, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    You guys are so analytical! Sometimes I just like to relax and enjoy what I’m reading. To me the story was a perfect representation of so many conversations I have had with my mother and my daughters. But then again I am a similar demographic to her mother so there is little wonder it resonates with me. It also was very reminiscent of Woody Allen and Cynthia Ozick in its tone and substance.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.