“Constructed Worlds”
by Elif Batuman
from the January 23, 2017 issue of The New Yorker

I love Elif Batuman’s critical work. There are passages her 2010 book of criticism The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them that I wish were plastered all over the walls at The New Yorker. I’ve never read any of her fiction, though; indeed, I didn’t know she was writing any fiction.

The first thing I did when I saw she had a piece this week was look at her first paragraph to see if she fell into any of the pitfalls of the contemporary short story that she so nicely mapped out in The Possessed. I’m so excited that she did not!

I didn’t know what e-mail was until I got to college. I had heard of e-mail, and I knew that in some sense I would “have” it. “You’ll be so fancy,” said my mother’s sister, who had married a computer scientist, “sending you e-mails.”

I love it, this strange rise from innocence to experience, this technological awakening!

I’m excited to see what you all think of the story, so join in the discussion below!

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