by Andrea Lee
from the January 4 & 11, 2021 issue of The New Yorker
The first fiction of the new year is Andrea Lee’s “The Rivals.” Lee’s most recent New Yorker fiction was published last year, when we got “The Children” in the 2019 summer fiction issue. Those who commented on this site seemed to like that story, so let’s hope that “The Rivals” gets us to a great start to 2021!
Here is how “The Rivals” begins:
When Floristella catches sight of Pianon on the Red House veranda — the side that overlooks Madame Rose Rakotomalala’s jackfruit tree — he gives a martial bellow, charges down the garden path, and attacks his neighbor with a walking stick. And though the two old Italian men, both well over seventy, are ludicrous combatants — Floristella, a diabetic, is ponderously fat, while tall Pianon is skeletal from annual bouts of malaria, so that their skirmish suggests a clash between Falstaff and Ichabod Crane — their energy and passion run high, and no one who witnesses the incident feels inclined to laugh.
Now I think that is a fun way to begin!
I hope this post finds all of you well, wherever you are, and that we can look forward to 2021 with hope. My best to you as 2020 comes to a close.