“Old Hope”
by Clare Sestanovich
from the December 9, 2019 issue of The New Yorker

I love this week’s cover. The end of the year is approaching, and I’m looking forward to some peaceful twilight as the month comes to its end. I need some time to catch up here and refocus, and I am hopeful that time is coming. Certainly this cover gives me hope!

But on to the reason for this post, this week’s New Yorker fiction from an author I don’t know. Clare Sestanovich is on the editorial staff at The New Yorker , but I think this is the first piece she’s published in the magazine, fiction or otherwise. Looking online, I see that she has published in The Atlantic and at Electric Lit. It’s always nice to see a new voice, and I’m very interested in hearing if you like her work.

Here is how “Old Hope” begins (I like it!):

When I was about halfway between twenty and thirty, I lived in a large, run-down house that other people thought was romantic. There was a claw-foot tub with squeaky knobs, and philodendrons that draped over the bannisters. The door to my bedroom was at least twelve feet tall. I installed a coatrack over the top, and whenever I needed to retrieve a jacket, or a towel, I stood on my desk chair, swivelling uncertainly.

There were six of us in the house. We were all about the same age, and at some point during the summer—I had moved in at the beginning of March, when the mornings were still cold, veins of ice glittering over the front steps—this became claustrophobic, unbearable. The house smelled of sweat and bike tires and something at the back of the oven being charred over and over again. Two boys lived on the top floor and another lived in the basement. (They weren’t men, not really.) I was aware of being surrounded. Shirtless, they cooked big vats of tomato sauce, the steam beading on their faces and clinging to the fur in their armpits. They smoked bongs they didn’t clean, and returned my books warped by bathwater.

I know I’ve been away a lot these past few months, and, as I said above, I’m looking forward to a bit of a holiday so I can regroup. In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts below!

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