by Sally Rooney published in The New Yorker
Read original on The New Yorker's website
Eileen works for a literary magazine, not making v...Show description
Posted 688 days ago
At first I was like oh-no, yet another story of a woman in her twenties working at a literary magazine with relationship issues. How many of these can be published before we all tear up the pages and throw our hands in the air, waiting for stories that may never come? How much longer do we have to bear this topic? Will we ever be saved?
However, whether it's from a sort of stockholm syndrome, where I have just gotten used to this style of story, or if Rooney's writing is just that good, I ended up liking the story considerably. Eileen's first interaction with Simon is just witty-yet-mysterious enough to pull the reader in to see what it's all about. I'm not really sure if these sorts of interactions happen in real life (I feel like they would seem silly in the real world), but on the page it establishes a unique connection between the two characters that hints at a form of "true love."
I appreciated Rooney's writing around social media websites, apps, and other commercial things. Often, writers literally put down the name of the company, and I can't help question if it's an advertisement they are getting paid for. In this story, Rooney delicately describes the platforms enough to where we can guess, but we aren't jolted out of the fiction.
Additionally, the piece on socialism and the working-class was extremely thoughtful:
Darach said he thought they were just using the same term, “working class,” to describe two distinct groups: one, the broad constituency of people whose income was derived from labor rather than capital, and the other, an impoverished, primarily urban subsection of that group with a particular set of cultural traditions and signifiers. Paula said that a middle-class person could still be a socialist and Eileen said the middle class did not exist. They all started talking over one another then.
Identity politics, and critical theory, has altered the traditional conceptions of class stemming from Marxist theory. Whether this is good or correct, I'm not sure nor the expert to judge, but Rooney does a great job at pointing out the confusion a lot on the Left faces.
Of course, this isn't new, it's basically just a modern take on the working-class versus the "progressive" bourgeoisie, but this is almost an exact situation that crops up in many circles these days. Our over-emphasis on identity politics makes us believe working-class is an identity and not a coalition. I'd say this is nobody's fault in particular, just the current state of discourse.
The ending was very well done as well, indicating that Eileen just wanted the temporary feeling of closeness, which is what a lot of career-centric people look for these days. We want our independence when we want it, but also to be loved when we want it, and that's a very, very hard thing to deal with. We escape to different cities, are more fickle and fast-paced in nature, and that results in a conflict in the way many of us were raised (Eileen on a small farm).
Although I was initially frustrated, yet again, with the general setting of the story, Rooney is a fantastic writer this was a good piece of fiction.