Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage. Julianne Pachico's "Honey Bunny" was originally published in the November 9, 2015 issue of The New Yorker.

November 9, 2015Once again, The New Yorker is giving space to a young author, and one I have never read before. It’s nice to see, and even nicer when the young writer is a breath of fresh air and not just someone treading the same ground as all the rest. I hope for the best here, and I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Please join the conversation below!

Here are Adrienne’s initial thoughts, to get things rolling:

I went through several  sensations as I read this story. First: another twenty-something year old’s drug story?? Then: a lot of fragments that I have to seam together, and I don’t feel like doing the work on another twenty-something year old’s drug story. To: there seems to be something familiar here in this heroine’s journey. And finally: I liked it. A lot.

I was unsure for most of the story. The nameless protagonist and her cocaine struggles were well-described, I just felt like it is a very common story line these days. Girl meets a boy in a club. They do drugs together. Her odd, drug-induced behaviors . . .

But then the story follows on the wings of insects found in the coke — leaves, flowers, crackers, dirt — and a nostalgia, clearly evoked memories of her very young years, comes wafting in smelling like chicken broth and sounding like her grandmother.

I have recently finished reading How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents and so I felt comfortable in this young woman’s reminisces of her privileged background and current stylish existence.

There were hints to history and politics, but the reader is allowed to come to their own conclusions about them. The implications of adult politics on children who then grow up is evident but not decided for us. And for this reason, I was able to connect with this twenty-something year old in another drug story as an individual still dealing with sadness and loss in her little girl heart.

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By |2015-11-02T16:34:47-04:00November 2nd, 2015|Categories: Book Reviews, Julianne Pachico, New Yorker Fiction|10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Jan Guerin November 2, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    “Honey Bunny” was a powerful and painful read. The loss of her home, family and history is permanent and she understands that. She is well equipped for an independent life in America as she is bi-lingual, well educated, well funded and has a talent for design. What she lacks however is quickly revealed to her new friend Tony and to the reader as well…connection with others and sobriety. I often reject literature that takes us into the world of drugs because it is so scary and unfamiliar to me. As I reader I want to say, “don’t use it! It’s going to take you to terrible places.” In this story however, I understood it in a way I never had before. The kind of world and the wealth that it gives users access to and the attraction of being numb and detached would be difficult to resist. The closing image was beautiful and tragic. I loved this story…a lot.

  2. Sean H November 6, 2015 at 3:26 am

    The New Yorker seems big on this quasi magic realist cocktail with a tart orange wedge of “ethnic” and it was clearly on display in its 20 Under 40 selections from 2010. This new bird has a vibe of Karen Russell, Chris Adrian, Rivka Galchen, Tea Obreht. But overall I didn’t see much deep and abiding wisdom here, which IS present in Yiyun Li and Zadie Smith and when she was younger there was a preternatural “game” to Mary Gaitskill and A.M. Homes, and it’s there in Ullman and Christensen and Ulinich as well (and which is lacking in Safron-Foer, Bynum, Strayed and a few others in the younger crowd). Also, in how the New Yorker situated its pages this week, I found a deeper humor in the Batmom cartoon and a coolness and self-assuredness in Jarmusch’s poem “Verdict With Guitar.” By contrast this story left me a bit cold. It doesn’t feel like a fully formed voice yet on the page, and it seems a little obvious in terms of the choice of images and how they are iterated within the rather tired “immigrant’s story” and “memories of home” tropes, and the ethnicity needs to be worn with a more realist pathos presented with more structural impact (as in the films of Inarritu or Meirelles or even the excellent performance of Catalina Sandino Moreno in the otherwise flawed Maria Full of Grace). That’s what would have made it a more memorable and trenchant read. She may find something later on but this one didn’t impress me enough to earmark her name.

  3. Adrienne November 6, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Sean – what are you looking for in a story to appreciate it? I’m impressed with your critical ability, but what IS good to you… short story wise? Can you give me a couple examples and reasoning? Literature as an art is constantly evolving, changing, remixing… what’s out there that moves you?

  4. Sean H November 8, 2015 at 5:50 am

    Hey Adrienne,
    I was pretty fulsome regarding the Joy Williams piece from a number of weeks back. I also had praise this year for New Yorker pieces by Kundera, Toibin and Braunstein. I mentioned them all in my comments on this site so you can look at those. Other short story writers in recent years that have caught my eye have included Wells Tower, Anthony Doerr, John Haskell, George Saunders and Adam Haslett.
    The stuff I appreciate has to work at the level of storytelling and there has to be a balance between plot and character, form and function, language and expression, style and content; an overall aesthetic has to be created and applied unto the reader. The classics of the form show us how this works. Just off the top of my head some of my all-time faves would include “Sonny’s Blues,” “The Dead,” “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” “A Perfect Day For Bananafish,” “The Shawl,” “Cathedral”. That’s Baldwin-Joyce-Hemingway-Salinger-Ozick-Carver. I could think of another 6 or another 60 but I’m not sure I agree with you that literature is “constantly evolving, changing, remixing.” I think the elements of a great story from a hundred years ago are still the elements of a great story today.

  5. Adrienne November 9, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    Yes – I liked the Williams piece, as well as Kundera’s. I do enjoy Doerr and Saunders. I am not familiar with the others (yet), but I did just happened to purchase a Wells Tower book from my library book sale last week!

    I MUST read “Bananafish”! It keeps popping up in conversation. The others I remember from high school years, but must revisit.

    There is something about the overall aesthetic, indeed. I feel that way about many paintings… And I look at literature that way, too. The elements of a great portrait are the same over the generations (hence we can connect with Rembrandt and Grandma Moses…) but what the artist DOES with those elements is what evolves. I can go back and read Anna Karenina, but some of its power is in the time period it comes from. Reading Go Set A Watchman today means something very different than what it meant back in the ’50s… Yes, some things are timeless, but Salinger, Carver, Baldwin, and Munro are fantastic because they took THE elements and crafted them into the art THEY made. This is what I mean by “evolving, changing, remixing”. The themes are what feel timeless to me…

  6. Greg November 18, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    Thank you Sean and Adrienne for sharing your views on this story and on literature in general. We are so lucky to be able to read both of you every week in the NYR section of the website!

  7. Trevor Berrett November 19, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    I agree, Greg — even though I don’t participate as I used to, I love the insights shared here.

  8. Ana E. Leggeri November 21, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    I am Colombiana. I’m 83 years old and have been subscribing/reading the New Yorker ever since 1946/7 ??? when I attended Northampton School For Girls in Northampton, Mass. Rosemary Thurber a school friend , daughter of James Thurber was my friend in school at the time, and two or three times a year that her father came to see her in school I also was invited out to dinner along with her other friends. I have not been back to Colombia since 1960. My father died at 52 in an operating room in a fancy New York hospital… he was the 4th. total stomach removal operation done in the world… My mother was assasinated by the FARC guerrillas a year after in our 15,000 hectares ranch a couple of years after… well. it’s a long sad story… I left Colombia definitively in 1960, and I have never returned.
    The real reason for the background info is to tell you that inspite of my personal data I feel 100% Colombian, I gave up my Colombian passport so many years ago, because I used to travel a lot and with a Colombian passport every body treated you like a drug dealer.Please forgive me for all the previous personal information, I have done it to add weight to my appreciation for printing for the first time in your magazine words like Bogota, Cartagena, Cali, Popayan, Bucaramanga, Barranquilla, et al…..!!!! It’s the first time . I visited the web site of the author, Julianne Pachico [???, not Pacheco ???] an she is very young and like all Colombian girls very pretty.
    I think I have a very interesting and unique life history, but alas! I am not a writer, I am a reader. Thank you again fro a grateful Colombiana. Ana E. Leggeri.

  9. Adrienne November 23, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    Ana!

    Thank you so much for sharing part of your story here! Your excitement for this piece and its connection to you came through loud and clear! And your tale does, indeed, sound like there has been a lot of life lived and endured and celebrated…

  10. Ken December 21, 2015 at 5:27 am

    Tiresome and quirky, veers between realist drug fiction and magical realist memory piece. There are a few good images, though, but the idea of various detritus popping up in her cocaine packages is forced. If they were in some sort of hallucinogen perhaps, but what coke dealer’s stash is going to be polluted this way for long.

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