I don’t typically write posts about individual authors, but an article I read online this week on thedailycamera.com caught my attention.
24-year-old previously unpublished Alexandra Kleeman recently had a short story, “Fairy Tale”, published in the winter 2010 issue of the prestigious Paris Review. For those of you unfamiliar with The Paris Review, it’s is a wonderful literary journal based out of New York City that publishes short fiction, essays, poetry, and interviews by some of the most respected writers around today.
Needless to say, it’s a pretty big deal for someone of Kleeman’s status to be published by it. Interested to see what was so amazing about her story to warrant publication, I picked up the Winter 2010 issue. Not only was her story there, as promised, but it is the first story you turn to.
“Fairy Tale” is a story about a young woman who “wakes up” at her dining room table with her parents and a young man she doesn’t recognize. She is told that she had just been announcing her engagement to said young man before she had stopped speaking. She is, of course, confused as to how she could be engaged to a man she doesn’t recognize. To add to her confusion, young men begin flooding into the house, all insisting that they are her boyfriends. One even brought flowers. Her parents tell her she must choose one, and she chooses the guy that had brought her flowers. In the kitchen, he kisses her and tells her he had come to kill her, then tries to kill her by throwing random articles at her.
The story reads like a dream someone had and then wrote down without much alteration. It’s not that the story was poorly written or terribly horrible, but it was definitely unremarkable and in my opinion, amateurish. It doesn’t hold up to what the media has been saying about it and definitely doesn’t hold up the The Paris Review’s usual standards.
According to the article on thedailycamera.com a professor of hers at Columbia was the one to send the story to The Paris Review. Knowing this, it’s hard not to believe that networking had a great deal to do with her story getting published as opposed to her having some great talent. It’s easy to imagine that same story lost in the stacks of submissions had she sent it in herself.
The Paris Review also has a short interview with Kleeman here.