Whenever I discover that a New Yorker “story” is an excerpt from a book, I lose my enthusiasm for commenting on it, no matter how well written it is. It’s not that there’s anything inherently wrong with excerpts, but they should be approached and evaluated differently, which is why The New Yorker should disclose that it’s an excerpt.
So here we have an excerpt, which we know only because C.E. Morgan tells us so in the Q&A (link below). And of course you only see the Q&A if you go online looking for it, because it’s not in the print magazine.
I did go looking for it because this piece felt to me like an excerpt. There’s a lot of summary and there’s no real suspense or conclusion. I’m hopeful that the book will give us both the past and the future of the boys Allmon and Mickey, because this work succeeds in making me interested in them. Intriguingly, they are twins, one black and one white. Their mother is black and their father is “Mike Shaughnessy, truck driver, half-hearted Lothario, collector of children, poor Irish agnate, known in high school as that fucking Irish fuck.” The mother loves the guy and he’s around sometimes, but not all the time.
The excerpt culminates—after setting all that up—with a visit from Mike. He’s going to be with the boys while the mother is at work. But he’s been driving and he’s tired and . . . it doesn’t go quite as planned.
But that’s it. No real tension, no real suspense, no climax, no ending. Which is the problem with excerpts. I’d read more about the boys, and I think Morgan is a wonderful writer, but I don’t love this piece.
June 14 & 21, 2010 “Twins” by C.E. Morgan
[available online only to subscribers, but see Q&A with C.E. Morgan ]