“The Frog King”
by Garth Greenwell
from the November 26, 2018 issue of The New Yorker
Last year, The New Yorker published Garth Greenwell’s “An Evening Out,” which he called a companion to his debut novel, What Belongs to You. That 2016 novel is narrated by an American English teacher living in Bulgaria. “An Evening Out” concerns itself with this narrator’s encounter with R., his Portuguese boyfriend. Greenwell returns to them each again in “The Frog King,” the events of which, Greenwell says in his interview, take place before the third section of What Belongs to You.
I know a lot of people really loved What Belongs to You, which I still haven’t read. More and more it looks like that novel was just the tip of the iceberg, the start of a great literary project. In the interview, Greenwell says how much he enjoys books that stand alone but that also form part of the writer’s world. I also love it when an author’s work circles itself, adding nuance and detail to the lives they’re exploring. Maybe Greenwell won’t carry these characters beyond the next book, but in the meantime I feel the need to catch up and follow along.
Unfortunately, “An Evening Out” was not well received by commenters here — at least, at first. While most found the story flowed nicely, they didn’t really find it interesting. That changed as more readers came to the story’s defense. I always appreciate that. I know it can be difficult to come to a place where everyone seems to hate a story and then give a counter view. It’s important, though. I do try to let people express their minds, even if they do so in a way that seems off-putting. The best way to deal with that is to have confidence in your comment, put it out there, and then let it go.
With that, please feel very welcome to share your thoughts on “The Frog King.”