Curtis Sittenfeld: “The Prairie Wife”

"The Prairie Wife"
by Curtis Sittenfeld
Originally published in 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!

59 thoughts on “Curtis Sittenfeld: “The Prairie Wife”

  1. 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. 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.

  3. 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:

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

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