“Stanville”
by Rachel Kushner
from the February 12 & 19, 2018 issue of The New Yorker

Rachel Kushner’s first story in The New Yorker was “Fifty-Seven,” published back in November 2015 (see the post here). Though her work keeps coming across my virtual desk (her debut novel was a National Book Award finalist in 2008, a year I tried to cover almost all of the finalists but still ended up missing hers), I’ve still not read any of her it. Not even “Fifty-Seven,” though I should have. It inspired some divisive commentary on this site, with some folks loving it and others hating it, and with some particularly nice explanations.

I haven’t read all of “Stanville” yet, but I have started it and was quite drawn in by the first bit:

If his students could learn to think well, to enjoy reading books, some part of them would be uncaged. That was what Gordon Hauser told himself, and what he told them, too. But there were days, like when a woman walked into the prison classroom and flung boiling sugar water into the face of another woman, when he did not believe it. There were days when it seemed as though the real purpose of the work he was doing was to destroy his own life by trying to teach people who wanted to burn each other’s faces off.

I’m curious where it will go and what we’ll all take away from it in the end. Please feel free to comment below!

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