“The Depletion Prompts”
by David Means
from the November 1, 2021 issue of The New Yorker

Some of my favorite New Yorker stories of the last decade have been by David Means, so I’m glad to see his work show up again. Here we get “The Depletion Prompts,” a story that is structured as a series of writing prompts intended to keep the author writing during the pandemic. Here is the first:

Write about that night, long ago, when you lay in bed listening to the sound of wind buzzing through the old television aerial mounted on the porch outside your bedroom—remember the door out to the tin roof, the buckle and ting against your toes—a deeply disturbing sound, like a stuck harmonica reed, one that, combined with the sound of crying drifting up from downstairs through the heater duct, seemed indicative of more troubling harmonics.

That does not necessarily escort me into the narrative behind the prompt itself, but I like the writing, and I’m confident that Means will offer quite a bit as I go on.

I hope everyone is having a good October, as it winds down. Please feel welcome to comment here with your thoughts on this story or any of Means’s work.

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