by Emma Cline
from the June 8 & 15, 2020 issue of The New Yorker
The longest story in this year’s Summer Fiction issue is Emma Cline’s “White Noise,” a fictional #MeToo story with a POV character named Harvey. Cleary, this is Harvey Weinstein, and it appears Cline puts us in his head as he awaits his trial verdict. In the accompanying New Yorker interview Willing Davidson starts where most of us would start: “why extend fictional empathy to real-world predators?” I think her answer is fascinating and astute: “It’s much more — frightening? disturbing? — to me that characters like the fictional Harvey might experience themselves as victims, pitiable and under attack, or that we can see elements of ourselves in this fictional Harvey.”
As for the title, of course most of us will immediately think of Don DeLillo’s famous book. From the interview I see that indeed White Noise comes up, and perhaps not just as a reference point.
I’m very curious how this story will land. It is twice the length of a typical contemporary New Yorker story, but I think it will be read even more than the new Hemingway and Murakami sequel that this same issue provides. It is apparently adapted from a novella, so I’m curious to see when that appears. It does not look like it will feature in her forthcoming book of stories, Daddy, though from that collection’s description it looks like “White Noise” would fit there.
I still know Cline’s work primarily through reputation. I have not read her debut, The Girls, which took its inspiration from the girls at the Manson Family ranch in 1969. She seems to go for it. I’m anxious to read this and to read your thoughts. Please comment below.