“A Love Story”
by Samantha Hunt
from the May 22, 2017 issue of The New Yorker

We’ve posted on only one story by Samantha Hunt, and that was nearly seven years ago, yet I remember it well. Not for good reasons. That story, “The Yellow” (thoughts here), has come to represent much of what I dislike about contemporary American short fiction, and New Yorker fiction in particular. Weighty but meaningless metaphors, trite sexual encounters, redundancy imposed because it looks strong (“urgently time-sensitive”), etc.

However, I was one of the only ones to dislike “The Yellow” at all, let along so much. Hunt has impressed many readers more discerning than I. Her second novel, The Invention of Everything Else, was a finalist for the Orange Prize in 2009. Hunt’s most recent novel, 2016’s Mr. Splitfoot, received positive reviews upon its release. And we are now seven years on, so why don’t I just settle down and give Hunt another chance? Time may force me out of this one, again, but please do let me know whether “A Love Story” works and whether room should be made for it! I do not think I’ll go for it otherwise.

I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this piece below!

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By | 2017-05-24T20:05:58+00:00 May 15th, 2017|Categories: New Yorker Fiction, Samantha Hunt|7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Sasha May 17, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    I’m neither American nor the author’s age — perhaps that’s why I really struggled with this story. The protagonist talks about her disappointing sex life and life as a mother, but for some reason I saw it as whining and “first world problems” I didn’t connect with. I can’t articulate why I got this impression, because there are other stories about disappointing sex life and life as a mother that spoke to me.

    This is my first time posting here, so I apologize if the comment is not that constructive. I read the story once (didn’t finish) and listened to the rest on the New Yorker podcast. It’s probably my least favorite New Yorker story ever. If anyone here could help me appreciate the story I’m totally ready to give it another read.

  2. Trevor Berrett May 17, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    Thank you, Sasha — you are most welcome!

  3. David May 18, 2017 at 12:09 am

    Well, I read it Monday. Didn’t love it. Didn’t hate it. It was just … ho hum. I meant to read it again but frankly can’t be bothered. This story might appeal to someone who has a pre-existing special interest in the subject matter, but I don’t see anything particularly insightful in it or a unique perspective offered by it to make the character special or memorable. Like Sasha I wonder if maybe there is some reason I should appreciate the story more than I did. But I can’t muster the enthusiasm to give it another chance.

  4. Roger May 18, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    “Whining” is definitely the word to sum up this story and its narrator/protagonist. This was livelier than Yiyun Lee’s “A Small Flame” but, like that story, is burdened by a main character drenched in self-pity. I did like the scene at the bar where the main character’s twenty-something drug dealer colleague asks her for a snack, figuring she’s got one because she’s a mom. And it was funny when she produced the snack. But nothing else to like here.

  5. Lee Monks May 19, 2017 at 5:51 am

    This felt a little like a Paul Beatty piece – sharp but rambling.

  6. William May 20, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    I’m with Sasha here — “I saw it as whining and “first world problems” I didn’t connect with”. however, I’m old and I’m a male, so . . .

  7. Dennis Lang May 20, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    Is this character really so strange? Is she unlike any of us in that moment awakening in the middle of the night, adrift in time and space, not knowing who are or where we’re going? How does what we do: banker, plumber, convict,,,mother define us, and should it? And if it doesn’t, what does? Yes, there were times at first the author’s voice struck me as an Amy Shumer monologue, but it kept going deeper and deeper and didn’t stop.
    Reminds of the time I was the only guy in a class on the feminist novel. I was there to get dates. I left knowing a whole bunch I didn’t know going in.
    Thought provoking story–for me.

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