It’s a bit later than usual, but it has arrived: the 2021 New Yorker summer fiction issue! This year we have fiction from Rebecca Curtis, Sally Rooney, and — surprisingly — Marcel Proust!
Sally Rooney has a new novel coming out in September, and “Unread Messages” looks to be an excerpt from that. I’ve seen a lot of coverage of the forthcoming novel, and I know folks are very excited. I am afraid I’m ignorant of Rooney’s work. I’ve heard a lot about it, but I still haven’t read any of it. I definitely need to fix that . . . In the meantime, here is a little excerpt of the excerpt!
At twenty past twelve on a Wednesday afternoon, a woman sat behind a desk in a shared office in Dublin city center, scrolling through a text document. She had very dark hair, swept back loosely into a tortoiseshell clasp, and she was wearing a dark-gray sweater tucked into black cigarette trousers. Using the soft, greasy roller on her computer mouse she skimmed over the document, eyes flicking back and forth across narrow columns of text, and occasionally she stopped, clicked, and inserted or deleted characters. Most frequently she was inserting two full stops into the name “WH Auden,” in order to standardize its appearance as “W. H. Auden.” When she reached the end of the document, she opened a search command, selected the Match Case option, and entered “WH.” No matches appeared. She scrolled back up to the top of the document, words and paragraphs flying past illegibly, and then, apparently satisfied, saved her work and closed the file.
I hope you’ll share your thoughts below!