by Aysegül Savas
from the January 31, 2022 issue of The New Yorker
Aysegül Savas has had two pieces of fiction published in The New Yorker in the last few years, and each time I’ve been struck by her writing. She has two books out now, and I keep meaning to pick them up and read them. I still haven’t done that, though! Will this be the time?
When the story begins, we are with Lea, as she’s preparing for the arrival of Leo:
Lea changed the sheets when she got up. She’d bought flowers the previous day, tulips that she’d put on the dresser. There were carnations on the kitchen table, in a squat glass vase. She thought they looked cheerful, and not too fussy.
The fridge was filled with more things than they would be able to eat: olives, jams, prosciutto, cheeses. She’d bought wine and beer, cookies, breads, the round taralli crackers that were common in Roman cafés.
She didn’t think they’d be staying home very much—there were so many places she wanted to take Leo—but she had in mind a scene of the two of them eating in bed. Did people really do that? It seemed as though there would be too much mess, nowhere to put your plate. Still, she liked the idea: the sleepy indulgence, the sheets streaked with light—the hour, in her imagination, was late afternoon, which may have been the reason for the beer, though this particular timing would require some planning, with everything else she wanted to do with him.
As she evaluates her preparation, Leo texts that he has arrived. The text is rather mundane: “Just landed. Will take a taxi over as soon as I’m out.” Lea, though, keeps building this up in her mind:
I can’t wait to get there, she thought, alternatively. Or, Finally. But maybe this was Leo’s way of elevating the anticipation further, not allowing any release with words.
I’m excited to see where this goes. Please feel free to leave your thoughts below!
Just read the interview with the author, and my reaction to her characters differs from hers. Lea seems like a control freak to me, unable to see anyone else’s views. Flee! I cry out to Leo.
Good analysis, Paul. Lea is so unstable. Why would Paul want to be invited back?
I’m a bit more sympathetic to Lea than the two previous respondents although I see that she’s also problematic. My main problem is more that a typical stereotype is being reinforced–the often, silent uncommunicative male and the woman who because of gender roles often waits for him to be more dominant and when he doesn’t feels let down.
Maybe she’s not behaving that way because of a gender stereotype. Maybe that’s just her.
Well…that is always possible YET printing fictions in which women conform to these gender stereotypes is always a way of perpetuating them.
I prescind from the culture wars.
I can respect that, William, I look forward to further discussion.