“Stanville,” by Rachel Kushner
Appeared in the New Yorker, February 12th, 2018, and in The Writer’s Voice (read and listen)
Several thousand words
You really get a feel for the hopelessness of these women’s lives. The way the main character analyzes that woman who tells the parole board she’s innocent seems very right. I’m a little puzzled by the shifts between first person and third person limited. I wouldn’t be surprised if the author tried two first-person narrators, or two third-, for symmetry’s sake, before discovering that the two points of view required different modes. Maybe the prisoner needs to have her own voice rather than being a distant “she,” while the teacher can’t sustain his own voice because of his lack of self-assurance?
I can’t tell this is a novel excerpt, which is nice.