The Books Briefing: Edith Wharton, Te-Ping Chen

Editor’s note: This week’s newsletter is a rebroadcast.

We will be back with a new newsletter next week.

I often think of fiction as the factual partner in the pursuit of truth. At its best, the genre is able to reproduce the worlds we are unable to imagine, and also to reveal those hidden around us. Last year, Atlantic Ocean again undertook to publish fiction with greater frequency. Short stories continue to thrive along with our important journalistic efforts, and we have begun in 2021 with the aim of pushing for the diversity of our works – not only in terms of race, politics and gender, but also in terms of style, perspective and form.

In October, Nicole Krauss’ “To Be a Man” considered masculinity and aggression from a mother’s perspective if two boys approach adulthood. In November, we ran an unpublished story of the Gilded Age skewerer (and Atlantic Ocean Monthly contributor) Edith Wharton, who showed her distinctive American flair and sharp wit. Te-Ping Chen’s story “Shanghai Murmur” ended the year in December with a tale of a girl leaving China’s provinces for the metropolis of Shanghai. There she confronts the limitations of the class and the limitations of desire.

In January, we shared two extraordinary pieces of two distinctly new voices: “Discovery” by Lauren Oyler, an author known for her sharp literary critique, and “Early Retirement,” by the polymathic and uncompromising Brontez Purnell. Coincidentally, both stories, in all their innumerable differences, contain very funny scenes with skin care routines.

Read more Atlantic Ocean‘s short fiction here.

,Every Friday in Bogbriefingen we thread together Atlantic Ocean stories about books that share similar ideas.

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What we read

illustration
GETTY / ARSH RAZIUDDIN / ATLANTEN

“To Be a Man,” by Nicole Krauss

“They walk around Schlachtensee – a long, thin lake on the edge of the Grunewald forest – and discuss whether he would have been a Nazi 80 years ago or not.”


illustration with a photo by Edith Wharton
GETTY / ATLANTEN

“A Granted Prayer,” by Edith Wharton

“She sniffed around his threshold for traces of cigarette smoke … she even invented an excuse to rummage in his drawers in search of French novels and maps.”


photograph of an urban landscape with shadows of flowers on top
LI HUI

“Shanghai Murmur,” by Te-Ping Chen

“She had found an opening in a part of Shanghai that she had almost stopped hoping she would ever see, which soothed some of the growl in her chest.”


multicolored grid with illustrations of parts of a hand
ARSH RAZIUDDIN

“Discovery,” by Lauren Oyler

“After I used a scientific-looking drop to apply serum on my nose to reduce redness and ‘cleanse’, I thought, Great social revolutions are impossible without the feminine fermentation. “


theater curtains with male legs protruding
TIMO LENZEN

“Early Retirement,” by Brontez Purnell

“From a distance, the hum of the highway sounded like waves crashing ashore. In his bed he would pull the duvets over his head and imagine being in the sea. Alone and in peace. ”


About us: This week’s newsletter is written by Oliver Munday. The book he is currently reading is The sea, the sea by Iris Murdoch.

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