“The Prairie Wife”
by Curtis Sittenfeld
from the February 13 & 20, 2017 issue of The New Yorker

Not a lot of regular commenters were impressed by Sittenfeld’s last offering in The New Yorker, “Gender Studies” (see that thread here), though it did engender a spirited conversation with some new folks who did Sittenfeld proud.

I’m curious how folks will respond to this one, about a woman who gets sucked into a celebrity social media swamp, which she hates but has no power to avoid, hoping instead to destroy it. You see, there’s a past.

Personally, I think this theme was done much better in Florence Noiville’s A Cage in Search of a Bird, published in English last year by Seagull Books.

I’m looking forward to your thoughts, as always!

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By | 2017-05-25T16:32:54+00:00 February 6th, 2017|Categories: Curtis Sittenfeld, New Yorker Fiction|Tags: |62 Comments


  1. Paul March 5, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    Agreed with Eric and I was interested and pleased that he researched the salaries of QA engineers
    and SRE’s at Minneapolis. It’s the type of research that good fiction writers do, and that I’m sure
    the author did, too. Her knowledge of this type of work environment seemed excellent!


  2. Greg March 5, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    Tangible – Your deadpan humour got me too!

    Eric – I am in line with your thinking!

  3. avataram March 5, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    Wow. This thread is still going on! Lots of great comments here – on Curtis’s name, the pronoun dance,
    and manwomanintheattic being her professor! *Bows*

    I liked this story by Sittenfeld much more than the last one. But all of her stories seem to be some commentary on Trump. After all, who is the only real twitter celebrity in the US? Who is “The” twitter celebrity revelling in his heterosexuality? Three wives and all that noise about grabbing…..

    Like American Wife, all Sittenfeld stories seem a bit political. Change all genders in this story, and it becomes a giant “What if” about Trump.

  4. William March 6, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    First —

    53 commentaries and counting. Quite stimulatory. Trevor — do you keep a record of the most comments?

    Second —

    Greg —

    You said:

    Eric and William – You have re-opened a long standing dilemma for me! It is this question:
    “You are what you do, or you do what you are?”

    I can’t resist repeating this bathroom-wall and t-shirt wisdom:

    “To be is to do”—Socrates.
    “To do is to be”—Jean-Paul Sartre.
    “Do be do be do”—Frank Sinatra.

    BTW, this intellectual jest has many forms:


  5. Trevor Berrett March 6, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    Do you keep a record of most comments?

    I don’t, but mainly because the record holder is so far and away from any second place contenders I don’t need to.

    Here is the current and presumably all-time record holder, at 266 comments: Chinelo Okparanta’s “Benji.” It’s a stream that had the magazine amend their author interview. It’s not one of my personally highlights. I’d rather there be a lot of comments due to something great than due to what you’ll see in this stream if you go looking.

    I am curious about second place, though. Comments used to be more plentiful in most posts, but I think Twitter and Goodreads have done away with some of that. I love it, though!

  6. Greg March 7, 2017 at 4:38 am

    Thanks William for refreshing my memory and for the nice link…..I’m with Sartre!

  7. William March 7, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Greg —

    Me, too. Bishop Berkeley took idealism to the heights (depths?) of absurdity, so I don’t think it can ever be taken seriously again.

  8. smsfanclub1 March 7, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Trevor —

    Was that the one where Betsy outed the author for plagiarism?

  9. Jake March 18, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    Sittenfeld’s “… Wife” is the worst story that I have ever read in the New Yorker. There was a prevailing an unintentional grossness to it, something delusional. I actually wondered more than once if Sittenfeld thought of herself as Lucy.

  10. Wellington March 28, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    Actually, I loved the story. I was hooked from the beginning to the end and it made me go after the previous fiction Sittenfeld wrote for the New Yorker. She has a very sharp and fluid writing that reminds me the same social satire Todd Solonz did in some of his movies. But something was hoovering my mind – and I wonder if that was because I’m not an English native speaker: I thought all the time Casey was a man, until the moment they have a chat in bed and she uses the feminine pronoun twice… was it on porpouse to cause it a twist in the end or was it clear since the beginning Casey was, in fact, a woman?

  11. Jake March 28, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Wellington, had you not mentioned it, I would not have explicitly thought you a non-native speaker of English. Now, I think perhaps it has something to do with how you could have loved the story, which when I read was akin to encountering the opinion of someone from another world.

  12. Paul Epstein October 21, 2017 at 6:49 am

    After recalling lots of comment about the surprise that Casey was female, I decided to google it — http://www.gpeters.com/names/baby-names.php?name=casey Actually, the name is female over 90% of the time!
    However, that is probably only true for babies named Casey. I do recall a lot of male Caseys.

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