Jenny Hendrix

Things I've written, mostly.

Illusion: Review of The Confabulist by Steven Galloway, for the NY Times

Magic, as Martin Strauss, the narrator of Steven Galloway’s novel “The Confabulist,” tells it, has four elements: An effect, which is one element, is achieved by way of the magician’s method, which is another; method is hidden in misdirection, and a reconstruction is attempted afterward, by the audience. “A magician seeks to choreograph a way through the trick with these component parts,” Strauss explains. “If he does so he will have achieved magic. If not, he is a failure.” [Read more at the NY Times…]

Helen Oyeyemi

The Mantra of Jeff Goldblum

The Long Journey of Patrick Leigh Fermor

The View from There

What's Your Sign?

Empty Chairs at Empty Tables: Norman Rush's Subtle Bodies


TO A STRAIGHT WOMAN, the phenomenon of inter-male friendship possesses a certain anthropological interest. Yet the tendency, I’ve found, is — quite in contravention of scholarly norms — to be at once jealous of it and somehow touched; to falsely exoticize it, in other words, viewing it as an unattainable utopia of uncomplication and purity, as we might succumb to viewing some remotely primitive tribe. Jealous because we feel the need to fill this role for our lovers or husbands, to be total besties, as it were, as well as romantic and sexual partners, and also because we’re sure (we are!) that we’d do a better job at it than any man would do. Touched, possibly, tear in our eye, by its being so mysterious, and, well, maybe noble in some utterly incomprehensible way. So imagine this reader’s delight upon hearing that it’s this very mystery into which Norman Rush delves in his long-awaited third novel, Subtle Bodies, and that — hosanna, as one of his characters puts it — he’s given us a female perspective, too. Specifically, the novel nudges at the question of what happens to male friendship when men are no longer equals — to solve, even more specifically, for “x” (women are, for once, the “y”) in the equation of friendship plus time, a calculation involving both the limitations of sympathy and its consequences. [Read more…]