Two Stories

Fashion is out of structuralism

Caitlin Keogh, Untitled. 2016, acrylic on canvas. 81 × 108". Courtesy the artist and Bortolami, New York.

Improvisation Is the Heart of Music
“The rest was pure Arabian Nights. Gazelle-eyed maidens with perfumed robes brought inlaid boxes of Turkish delight and roast hummingbirds and sugared grapes and honeyed wine — ghastly stuff — and tiny cups of sludgy coffee. Silks kissed the earth. Our host raised his hands and clapped — once — twice — three times, and on the third the strains of a harp wafted in from the wings.

“‘But my dear chaps! You’re not eating!’ he cried. ‘Try the hummingbirds, I assure you they are excellent. Or a morsel of lamb? And you must, you positively must sample the mare’s-milk cheese, it is a speciality of my people, a great delicacy. Fatima! See that the gentlemen have some cheese!’

“He went on in this way for some time, and after I suppose half an hour or so said — ‘But come! I shall order them to prepare us a hookah, and my companions shall entertain you. Which did you favour among those who served you?’

“Now, I was prepared to see what the hookah was like, and even — dare I confess it? — be entertained by one of the companions, at least up to a point. But Angus is a true Scot; his Presbyterian blood curdled at the sound of this.

“‘Of course I’ll not touch his filthy hookah,’ he whispered to me in tones just loud enough not to be tactful.

“Our host went on with the utmost urbanity, as though nothing had been said, urging us to express a preference for one of the girls. Angus preserved the silence of outraged virtue. I murmured something noncommittal, all extremely attractive, impossible to choose one above the rest. This, it turned out, was a bad move.

“‘My dear fellow’ — he cut me short — ‘I understand perfectly — to tell the truth I’m not, myself, entirely in the mood — as your friend’s tastes, it seems, are not in that direction’ (he smiled rather maliciously at poor Angus, who went

More from Issue 31

Issue 31 Out There
Bringing the War Home
Issue 31 Out There

Could all women really be believed? That was a lot of women.

Issue 31 Out There

“Raise your hand if you work in the tech industry,” Fred continues. Almost every hand in the room goes up.

Issue 31 Out There

Ashoy showed me a photo on his phone and said coyly, “Look, a victim of the fire.”

Issue 31 Out There
Superking Son Scores Again
Issue 31 Out There
You Can't Read
Issue 31 Out There

Well, I’m all for seeking the triangular god who gave his essence to the triangle.

Issue 31 Out There
An Account of My Hut
Issue 31 Out There

People think that only adults felt groggy and homesick after the end of history, but children were sad, too.

Issue 31 Out There
Two Stops
Issue 31 Out There

Maybe I do have a people that I belong to; my people’s culture and tongue is to stand around silently, being ranted at.

Issue 31 Out There
Sanctuaries of Trust and Caring
Issue 31 Out There

No genre is more masculine than the spy story, more impervious to revisionary feminist versions.

Issue 31 Out There
Both Sides Now
Issue 31 Out There

The trigger-warning debate became the liberal version of the knockout game.

More by this Author

Issue 6 Mainstream

You open the book. Who are these people? What’s going on? Where is it going?

November 1, 2011

Tutor! Donate sperm. There are ways to monetize your intelligence that doesn’t do damage to your craft.

Issue 12 Conversion Experience
Lightning Rods
March 22, 2012
Regrets at Fordham
October 28, 2011

If I’m trying to work on something, I try to be reading the things that are relevant to that book.