Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Library of America--Shiftless Little Loafers

Photo: Susan Orlean from Wikipedia

I thought it might be interesting to write a little bit about the short pieces I get emailed to me from the good people at the Library of America.  For those who don't know, you can sign up to get short stories, articles, essays, etc. emailed to you from the Library, knowing that the pieces are of high quality, regardless as to what you actually think of them.  (Often I find something to be well-written, though I'm not interested in it, so I delete it.)  I'm working backwards from Story #95, because I've let them get backed up and out of control.  And that's a lot of blogger fodder.  (Blogger Fodder should catch on as a term of the Net.  Let it be known that I deserve credit for coining it.)  The story here is a Swiftian essay by New Yorker writer Susan Orlean.

The piece should be checked out.  It's amusing, though not laugh out loud funny like some of Woody Allen's more absurdist pieces can be.  It's Swiftian in tone, kind of, though Orlean does not think we should eat the babies, as Swift said.  Maybe we should put the infants to work, though they are ultimately found to be too lazy and too smart.  (One can be both.)  And when they put on sunglasses, they're lazy and snobby, like Italian directors.  (That's her joke, not mine.)  So that was funny, as was the part where she describes a baby's complete fascination with one of his own toes, and then a blade of grass.  I saw someone today playing absentmindedly with a few strands of her hair upon a table, and this was a teenaged someone.  Then again, I will often absentmindedly rub my upper lip against the tall facial hairs standing at attention from just beneath my lower lip, so who am I to judge?  And I can massage my facial hair with my hands and fingers in a very fakely thoughtful way, as if I were smart and ponderous, or something.  And I can do that for hours.

So, anyway, check it out.  Good writing.  And it's really short, too. 


  1. Whenever I think of Susan Orleans I can't get beyond the Charlie Kauffman movie "Adaptation"...

  2. Yes, her response to the movie was itself very interesting. Rather be thought of as wild than boring, she said. But she could have sued if she wanted to; instead, she played a bit part in the film (an angry waitress), let her book cover be shown a few times, and probably made a fortune for not suing. Good call, I think.