20 Under 40: A Comprehensive (Subjective) Guide
Yiyun Li, “The Science of Flight,” August 30:
Here’s another that seemed to be a big favorite for many people, but for me, was just too boring. The narrator, Zichen, works in an animal care center with two other men that are both (though one doesn’t mean to be) a bit racist and patronizing, though they respect her ability to handle rodents.
Zichen has constructed an elaborate lie for her coworkers, who think that every year she goes to China to visit her parents. In fact, she was born out of wedlock and raised by her grandmother, who ran a barbershop and was always cruel to her. Zichen is an endearing character, but she’s too mopey to be exciting for me.
Li has a novel coming soon, The Vagrants, that looks poised to receive a lot of praise, and she also just received a MacArthur “Genius” Grant, so she is obviously respected. But if this story is an indication of her typical style, she’s not the writer for me. Her pacing here is very slow and methodical, and there’s too much family history. I’m bored.
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Your crush can sense your increasingly-frenetic desperation, and now has gone from the “They’re a cool friend, but I’m just not really interested in being romantically involved” stage to the “I cannot be alone in the same room with them, they’re going to harvest a lock of my body hair for witchcraft” stage.
I think women are less funny, but it’s not their fault. The audience at the festival didn’t laugh at jokes coming out of female mouths because those jokes were less funny.
3. Pretending to be “normal.”
“Real Life,” despite being the name of a recent facebook album, is decidedly a thing.