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Antonya Nelson’s glimpse of Houston in Shauntrelle

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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Houston is not, to my mind, a particularly literary town, that is to say, it defies one to write about it. It has no deficit of aspiration of course and has played host to many a worthy practitioner – minimalist kingpin Donald Barthelme, poets Mark Doty, Edward Hirsch, Cynthia MacDonald, Vassar Miller, and of course Larry McMurtry – and a whole flotilla of authors I’ve neglected or am not aware of.

Houstonist spotted the short story Shauntrelle by Houston-based author Antonya Nelson in last week’s New Yorker.

It isn’t just a husband you divorce but a life. A credit rating. Certain friends—sadly, some of them small children. A mother-in-law, that innocent bystander. And sometimes it seemed to Constance that she had divorced her own pronoun, I, and run away with another, she. She, she sometimes thought, of herself, and always in the present tense. As in Has she disconnected from her past so completely?

She hadn’t, however, divorced her city. Houston was still hers, although this part of it was new to her. Along with the novelty of the South Loop, she’d acquired a roommate, this after many years of the known quantity: husband, daughter. Dogs. She guessed she’d divorced them, too.

New Yorker Fiction: Shauntrelle

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Category: literary pretensions


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