“A, S, D, F” by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh from the May 31, 2021 issue of The New Yorker
It’s been a while since we had a story from Sayrafiezadeh, though if I think back on the early days of tracking The New Yorker fiction on this site it feels he was a regular. Looking back, I see we had a story from him in 2010, 2011, 2012. His debut story collection, Brief Encounters with the Enemy, came out in 2013 and was a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Award, the PEN America Literary Award for a debut story collection. We got another story in 2014, but since then it’s been slower — at least in the pages of The New Yorker — with just one in 2018.
Sayrafiezadeh has a new collection, American Estrangement, coming out in August. This — along with this week’s story — is great, welcome news. I think Sayrafiezadeh is a great writer, and I am glad to see that after eight years we are getting a new collection. I’m excited to see what we’ll get.
“A, S, D, F” takes place in Aspen where our narrator is employed in an art gallery, essentially getting paid to do nothing.
By the time six o’clock is about to roll around, I’m beginning to wonder if working in an art gallery is taking some sort of toll on my psyche. One part of the problem is that I haven’t done anything all day, since there hasn’t been anything to do, and the other part of the problem is something I can’t quite name yet. This is the moment when the owner emerges from his back office—three minutes before six—holding a two-page handwritten letter that he needs me to type right now, because there’s a collector on the West Coast who might be interested in “Untitled X.”
“One more thing before you go,” he says, as if the list of today’s tasks has been long.
“I’d be happy to,” I tell him. I’m full of good cheer and work ethic. I was hired a month ago, and I want the owner to think of me as a team player—but the truth is I don’t get paid for overtime.
This opening is nothing showy, but I’m invested already and happy to follow along . . . though that will have to come a bit later!
While there have been many stories in The New Yorker that I’ve been anxious to read, I’ve been falling behind since early April (and even then I was trying to catch up). I need to dig in because I don’t want to miss this one. I’m looking forward to hearing what you think, too, so please let me know in the comments.
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