Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage. Michael Cunningham's "Little Man" was originally published in the August 10 & 17, 2015 issue of The New Yorker.

August 10 & 17, 2015Though I read and enjoyed Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Hours, I’ve never followed up with his work. Mostly because I haven’t heard anything terribly positive. This story, told in the second person, looks like it could go either way!

I’m anxious, as always, to read your thoughts. Please comment below!

Liked it? Take a second to support The Mookse and the Gripes on Patreon!
By |2015-08-03T00:25:21-04:00August 3rd, 2015|Categories: Michael Cunningham, New Yorker Fiction|4 Comments


  1. Adrienne August 5, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    What a fun twist on the dark and brooding Rumpelstiltskin!

    “Little Man” is probably not great literature itself, but is a refreshing treatment of such lasting stories. Fairy tales endure because they are beautiful, important, and they reach us – have reached us – for generations…

    I was touched in the very beginning when the Little Man spoke of how the miller saw his daughter – in her beauty “his daughter may not be singular”, but neither is the gnome’s desire for a child.

    The second person point-of-view brings me back to the Choose Your Own Adventure stories and third grade when I still reveled in the magic of fairy tales. I listened to Michael Cunningham’s version on SoundCloud. It was like a teacher reading during story-time after recess. This may have heavily influenced my thoughts on this piece. Cunningham has a commanding and entertaining story-telling voice. The tale was conversant and in today’s vernacular, style, and tone

    “Belief is crucial.” Insightful psychology employed in the story adds certainty to the reader’s perspective. Why is Rumpelstiltskin the way he is? How did the miller’s daughter approach marriage to the murderous king? Could such a man desire a family? Is love/sex available to all? Are our children merely an extension of ourselves?

    While this piece of fiction may not win awards or accolades by the dozens, it is a perfect example of masterful storytelling. I look forward to more of Cunningham’s work.

  2. Roger August 12, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    It was fun to read. A much better-written version of “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs,” the 1996 picture book told from the wolf’s point of view. So although what Cunningham does here isn’t pioneering, it’s well-executed.

  3. Greg August 13, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    Thank you Adrienne and Roger for sharing your thoughts!

  4. Madwomanintheattic September 6, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    I loved the story (as I had loved the story of Rumpelstiltskin before). When it is as psychologically astute and narratively appealing as this is, the midrashic process of expanding a challenging or opaque text is delicious. I like to think that the miller’s beautiful daughter’s marrying the (cruel, megalomaniac) king is akin to what certain contemporary beauties must have thought about marrying the (cruel, megalomaniac, misogynist) Donald Trump; it’s all about power, baby, power. Power is the green fuse that drives the flower in this story, for sure, but Cunningham subverts it with love and longing and sympathy and eloquence.

Leave a Reply

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