The New Yorker Reader: “A Tiny Feast,” by Chris Adrian

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04/16/2009 2:00 PM |

How sad these mortals be.

In the spirit of Literary Upstart, just hours away…

“One judge, I’m not going to say which one, admitted that when he — or she, I’m not going to identify the judge because this judge is embarrassed to admit this — anyway, this judge read this story on the page and was really, really not looking forward to hearing it read because, and I quote, “Christ, all that stuff about ‘faeries’… I was really worried. But this judge then admitted that in fact, read aloud, a lot of it sounds funny and that was probably what was intended all along.

“Your bio says you’re a practicing pediatric oncologist. The judges all agreed that that sounds pretty intense, and that it’s probably a good thing none of us have that job. But the judges were very impressed with how much knowledge — of not just the medical and institutional but the psychological and emotional aspects of having a sick child — seemed to come through in this story. Then one of the judges suggested that maybe the bio just cows us into not questioning the veracity of any of the details, but that judge was being churlish and was quickly shouted down.

“And finally, the judges also all agreed that the central conceit, of A Midsummer Night’s Dream‘s Titania and Oberon having a mortal child sick with leukemia, and enduring the treatment with him, was a deeply inspired way of getting at the shock of mortality and desperate magical thinking that goes along with such a situation.”