Previously On: “The Dinosaurs on Other Planets” by Danielle McLaughlin
The New Yorker problem, part 2. If “The Hotel” weren’t written by the talented Anne Enright, would it have been published in The New Yorker? Rephrased: If I had written this story about an unnamed woman who gets off a plane in an unknown country and stares at a line of refugees—that’s the whole story—would anyone tell me it was good?
I might get points for creative word choices or solid imagery, but no one would think it was finished. They’d say: “This is a good start.” If an established author publishes a list of misspelled bullet points, it falls to their readers to find meaning and be moved by this “brave” stylistic decision.
I’m nervous. I can’t tell you exactly why Enright’s piece in The New Yorker is good beyond the fact that a prestigious author wrote it and a prestigious magazine published it. It’s a nice piece of writing, but its focus is so extremely narrow that when I reached the end I thought: That’s all?? Admitting this means I might be a lowbrow casual who wouldn’t know good art if hit upside the head with a Matisse.
There are two choices:
Option A: Write an insightful essay about “The Hotel” with lots of big words and moving language about the refugee crisis.
Option B: Encourage you to read the essay yourself and find your own meaning because art is subjective and transcends online reviews.
Let’s go with Option B.
Anne Enright’s “The Hotel” was published in the November 6, 2017 issue of The New Yorker and you can read it right here. There is also an interview with Enright specifically about “The Hotel” (click here) that I recommend as a companion piece. I much preferred this interview to the story. It has a point of view that the story hints at but ultimately does not express. I read the story first, found the interview, then reread the story. “The Hotel” was much more impactful the second time when clarified by the interview.