by Rachel Kushner
from the November 30, 2015 issue of The New Yorker
Rachel Kushner first came to my attention when she was a finalist for the National Book Award for her 2008 debut novel Telex from Cuba. In 2013, her second novel was also a finalist for the National Book Award and went on to the Folio Prize’s shortlist. This past year, one of my favorite publishers, New Directions, published The Strange Case of Rachel K., a collection of three of Kushner’s early stories. So, really, from the first days of this blog until now, Kushner’s name has been on my radar, but shamefully I have still not read a word of her work. I have no good excuses, and even less now that she has her first New Yorker story.
From the interview with Deborah Treisman I’ve learned this story is about a man released from prison. It emerged from Kushner’s own interest in the workings (or failings) of the California prison system.
Here’s how it begins:
They dropped him from I.R.C. so early the sky was black. He walked until he found himself stranded on the median of a freeway entrance, cars streaming toward him with their blinding lights, like a video game where the enemies come right at you, motherfuckers just keep coming straight at you one after the other, bam bam bam.
He faced the traffic, the cars racing by, machines with people in them who were not him. He was the one not in a machine, the one dumped before dawn from the county jail, and where were all these people going so early? No one stopped for him. Not a single car.
I look forward to your thoughts!