“Crossing the River No Name”
by Will Mackin
from the June 5 & 12, 2017 issue of The New Yorker

It’s time for the summer fiction issue, featuring three stories: “Clean, Cleaner, Cleanest,” by Sherman Alexie (here); “Show Don’t Tell,” by Curtis Sittenfeld (here); and “Crossing the River No Name,” by Will Makin.

This post and comment thread are focused on Will Mackin’s “Crossing the River No Name.” Mackin’s debut story, “Kattekoppen,” appeared in The New Yorker back in March 2013, and we were all impressed. It seems with this story that he has continued to write about his experiences in war.

I’m curious to see where he goes with this one and am looking forward to your thoughts below!

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By |2017-06-16T21:52:55-04:00May 29th, 2017|Categories: New Yorker Fiction, Will Mackin|Tags: |6 Comments


  1. parizen May 30, 2017 at 4:21 am

    Hello there! Is there no link to the story? Thanks.

  2. Trevor Berrett May 31, 2017 at 12:28 am

    I haven’t included one because, after doing this for years, I got tired of The New Yorker changing its addresses on me when they’d do a new site design/structure, leaving me with a lot of broken links. If you search for the title on Google, it will take you right to it. I hope you find it and return to share your thoughts!

  3. mehbe June 3, 2017 at 10:03 am

    This story just didn’t work for me. I was hoping it would somehow fall into some meaningful place by the end, but it didn’t. Is that the point? Could be, but I somehow get the idea that the author makes much more sense of it than what was conveyed to me.

    It’s funny to think this, especially in light of Sittenfeld’s story title in this issue, but I think I could have used a bit more telling to explain all the showing that was happening.

  4. William June 4, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    It seemed somewhat shapeless to me as well. Perhaps he was depicting depersonalizing effect of prolonged combat? Hal dies, but mission goes on. Narrator is losing his heart. River is called No Name, and narrator feels like he also has no identity. Sparkle chooses one Taliban solider who will tell them who he is and where he has come from and where he is going — and tell them the same about themselves.

  5. William June 4, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    I need to admit — I didn’t see the contribution of the high school incident.

  6. Greg June 9, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    I really liked the admiration shown to Maz and Hal from the narrator. This paragraph resonated with me:

    “Maz was a fullback, the type who preferred to block so that others might score. He was a born leader and an all-round good guy, the likes of whom I wouldn’t encounter again until I met Hal, years later. Maz, like Hal, made me feel as though I were part of something larger than myself. And, like Hal, he made me want to be a better person.”

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