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  #1  
Old 12-10-2017, 06:23 PM
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Some folks get weirded out by the lead pic, so it's spoilered. Link in the picture.



This has really blown up in the last couple days. What did you feel? What did you think? Why?
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Old 12-10-2017, 06:35 PM
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Old 12-10-2017, 06:40 PM
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Until the very end, I had some real sympathy for Robert. Time was I had a lot in common with Robert: unkempt, oafish, awkward. But he crosses a line at the end, and I hope which one is obvious without pointing it out.

Not being a woman, and never having been a college girl in a major metro, I missed a lot of how Margot tamps herself down for Robert's benefit (and by extension the benefit of any man who might be interested in her.) Of course, once it's been pointed out it's impossible to miss. It's all there in black and white.

Of course the romantic and sexual relationships of clumsy, inexperienced people (Robert reads to me as a guy who hasn't spent much time in the company of women) are going to be equally clumsy. What I find so interesting is how Kristen Roupenian illustrates the impact of power (that is to say, patriarchy) and patriarchy (that is to say, power) on a young woman's reactions the advances of a man she wants no part of, and to his behavior in general. And, by extension, the reactions of young women to my own advances and behavior when I was younger.

But from where I sit, that's a good thing for men to be thinking about.
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Old 12-10-2017, 06:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Büge View Post
Short story in the New Yorker that has blown up on social media, or least a section of social media, since publication. I linked to it - just click the spoilered pic.
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Old 12-10-2017, 06:47 PM
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One note from @3liza: Robert's two cats are named after a Junji Ito story so he is a confirmed weeb. Love that level of detail.
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Old 12-10-2017, 07:16 PM
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And I'm putting out fire... with, GASOLINE!!!

*jams*
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Old 12-10-2017, 09:00 PM
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I found it almost unbearable to read. I predicted the middle and end of the story with perfect accuracy about one paragraph after Robert was introduced, because I feel about myself the way that this story feels about Robert. Seeing it reproduced reminds me that I am exactly that loathsome, and I'm right to feel the way I do.
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Old 12-11-2017, 09:56 AM
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Interview with the author about the story, also New Yorker.
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Old 12-11-2017, 10:50 AM
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Only you know your relationship with you, but I don't see Robert as loathsome at all. Clumsy, lacking confidence, selfish? Definitely. But so is Margot.

CS Lewis wrote a lot about how power intersects with morality. The darkest rages of a child might only result in eye-rolling from her parents while momentary laziness from a general can kill thousands. In this case you have two people, described pretty well as 'mediocre' at worst by Liz Bruenig, who are encouraged to harm themselves and each other by a destructive culture and power structure.

It's pretty obvious that neither of them are having a good time together. Robert comes off as perpetually embarrassed or confused, and Margot only stays engaged because of constant effort. They propel themselves deeper into a relationship they don't want with someone they don't like until they have sex they don't enjoy. We're in Margot's head to see her reflexive disgust with Robert's middle-aged body, but Robert also has to talk himself into enjoying things and he keeps losing his erection. There's a sadness and dread in every level of the encounter.
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Old 12-11-2017, 11:16 AM
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Read this last night and it's been sticking with me. Rather than reading it and trying to come up with who to blame and exactly at what part, I find it more fascinating to see just how well the author hit a lot of great points about dating as adults: the exuberance of a young woman, and the quiet insecurity of an older man, the difficulty in both those things to communicate. I think there's a lot people can relate to with both characters.

Neither character is perfect, and it's worth noting that for all of Margot's internalized rationalizations and justifications, Robert has plenty of times where he externalizes rationalizations and half-apologies for things that he feels he is compromising on by getting closer to Margot. Captures a lot about dating, the fear of being alone, the fear of not fulfilling some unsaid obligation, the fear of letting someone down or hurting someone. I'd like to think to myself that Robert's actions at the end go into the realm of fantasy, but I know that they ain't.
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Old 12-11-2017, 11:27 AM
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Robert crossing the line at the end says something about the way that we reach out for the most bullshit scripts in our culture when we feel low
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Old 12-11-2017, 11:35 AM
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Yeah, Robert spends a lot of time convincing himself of things out loud. It feeds into my read that he’s not having any more fun than Margot is.

I think what seals it is his line about wanting to fuck a girl with nice tits. Did he really? He sure didn’t act like it.

Another thing the author nailed is how ridiculous sex is if you’re not completely out of your mind horny. I don’t mean “bad”, but silly. Don’t get me wrong, they have really shitty sex (and sex that is bad for them, besides) but that seems to grow from their refusal to acknowledge how goofy the whole scene is.

I agree that both characters had strong points of identification as I read.
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Old 12-11-2017, 11:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by upupdowndown View Post
Robert crossing the line at the end says something about the way that we reach out for the most bullshit scripts in our culture when we feel low
When I read this I realized that this script is both the unmentioned third character and the protagonist.
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Old 12-11-2017, 11:58 AM
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So I get to the sex part and I'm like, oh my god, there probably really are a lot of inexperienced men out there who just try to have sex exactly like they're in a bad porno and I am *so* sorry for women everywhere.
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Old 12-11-2017, 12:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirin View Post
So I get to the sex part and I'm like, oh my god, there probably really are a lot of inexperienced men out there who just try to have sex exactly like they're in a bad porno and I am *so* sorry for women everywhere.
Yeah...honestly this was my takeaway too and I wasn't sure how to word it.

I really enjoyed reading this story. I had more sympathy for Margot than Robert, but I don't know if it's accurate to say that either is presented as being "better" than the other. They are both engaged in a pretentious relationship in the truest sense - it's based on pretense. Underneath it is nothing.
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Old 12-11-2017, 01:20 PM
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reflecting on it more, it's a big ol' red flag that a lot of his jokes to Margot read as negging
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Old 12-11-2017, 01:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirin View Post
So I get to the sex part and I'm like, oh my god, there probably really are a lot of inexperienced men out there who just try to have sex exactly like they're in a bad porno and I am *so* sorry for women everywhere.
There are layers to that too. She's 20 and her last sexual relationship was with a gay dude and involved only marginally less stage management than the Peace of Westphalia. She doesn't seem to know what she wants out of the physical act of sex beyond that she should feel better than she does. Robert doesn't seem any more aware of his desires, mechanically doing what he learned from pornhub.

Like dracula said, once you clear away the pretense there is nothing else there.
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Old 12-11-2017, 03:19 PM
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God that story was agonizing to read. I'm so over being insecure about myself and other people's perception of me (at least when it comes to dating), so that whole through-line of the story was a trek to get through. It's hard to believe how bad some people are at dating, even though I personally was terrible at it for a long time! She seemed to think he was way more experienced than he actually was, and he was highly insecure about his lack of experience. That really does sum it all up, I think.
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Old 12-11-2017, 03:42 PM
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Reading that interview finally explained the title of the piece for me. It's as misleading and uninformative about the content of the short story as it is at describing what the person applying it to themselves is like or how they will behave
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  #20  
Old 12-11-2017, 06:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by upupdowndown View Post
reflecting on it more, it's a big ol' red flag that a lot of his jokes to Margot read as negging
I reread those parts and I really don't see it. He comes across as stilted, but not calculating.
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  #21  
Old 12-11-2017, 07:12 PM
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Not a bad piece of writing, but hey, does anyone feel like dating ISN'T a terrible hellscape built upon a torrent of unflattering biological drive? Asking for a friend.
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  #22  
Old 12-11-2017, 08:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghosttaster View Post
Not a bad piece of writing, but hey, does anyone feel like dating ISN'T a terrible hellscape built upon a torrent of unflattering biological drive? Asking for a friend.
Dating can be fun and good, but it can also be like this story.
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Old 12-11-2017, 08:57 PM
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I am not sure why humans subject themselves to dating.
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Old 12-11-2017, 09:02 PM
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Dating is nice.
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Old 12-11-2017, 09:04 PM
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I disagree. 'Relationships' are nice.

'Dating' is awful.
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Old 12-11-2017, 09:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solitayre View Post
I disagree. 'Relationships' are nice.

'Dating' is awful.
You know, I guess I agree with this? My experience certainly reflects it.
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Old 12-11-2017, 09:36 PM
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I mean, a lot of people conflate the two but there's a clear line of delineation in my humble opinion, and they break out almost perfectly along the lines of what is good and what is bad.
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Old 12-11-2017, 09:44 PM
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My personal...headcanon? Is that this is about Ernest Cline
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Old 12-12-2017, 07:51 AM
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I had to Google what this was and read it. I hate you all now.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  #30  
Old 12-12-2017, 08:11 AM
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The story is good, and I love seeing random people online talking about short fiction.
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