Announcing Issue 26

Writing by Nikil Saval, Namara Smith, Stephen Squibb, Mark Krotov, Nakul Krishna, Sarah Nicole Prickett, Jesse Ruddock, Lizzie Feidelson, Judith Levine, Gabriel Winant, Keith Gessen, Kirill Medvedev, Elena Kostyleva, Galina Rymbu, Roman Osminkin, Keti Chukrov, A. S. Hamrah, Tobi Haslett, and Richard Beck.

"Dirty Work" arrives in August. Read the annotated table of contents and subscribe!

The Intellectual Situation

Canvassing by Nikil Saval

The first sunny day of the year, I get a neighborhood of “turf ” (as the campaign calls it) closer to downtown—closer, specifically, to the Whole Foods—and the results speak for themselves. Door after door, Clinton, Clinton, Clinton. “I haven’t decided yet, but I’m leaning toward Hillary Clinton.” Do you want to discuss why? No, as the door slams in my face. Still, most of the houses are empty, or people don’t answer the door—somewhere around 80 percent.

#worstelectionever by Mark Krotov

Last September, Asawin Suebsaeng, the Daily Beast’s deputy social media director, began to include the hashtag #bestelectionever in some of his election tweets. The hashtag was a statement of fact: Donald Trump’s candidacy marked the mainstreaming of the kind of high-grade silliness Suebsaeng has celebrated for years. Everyone on Twitter, from Jerry Saltz to Marc Andreessen, seemed to come up with the same joke to describe the new front-runner: Trump was an internet comments section come to life.

Prince Trump by Stephen Squibb

Donald Trump is definitely not a politician. Nor, for that matter, is he a businessman—that would be Mike Bloomberg—and his claims to being one only obscure the class basis of his appeal. Trump is not a professional of any kind. He is a prince, closer in substance and style to the great hereditary inheritors of the past. This, far more than anything else, is what attracts his constituency, who, however inarticulate they may appear on cable news, believe intuitively that only someone inoculated against the entanglements of professional life can hope to carry their banner through the city with any effectiveness.

The Woman’s Party by Namara Smith

Women’s economic empowerment was at the heart of Hillary Clinton’s politics in the 1990s, and it has been at the heart of her message this year. But her call “to systematically and relentlessly pursue more economic opportunity” for women, as she put it in a speech at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation several years ago, has failed to move younger women, who voted overwhelmingly against her in the Democratic primaries. The belief that what’s best for the market is best for women, which has powered her political career for decades, has lost much of its force, and the promises of empowerment feminism have grown increasingly threadbare.

Politics

Rhodocycles by Nakul Krishna

“You must promise me something before we start.”
“Certainly,” I said.
“You must promise me—that you will not spend the next eight weeks ranting at me about colonialism. Well, if you must, one week of ranting is fine. Maybe two. But after that I’m afraid you really will have to do some real work.”

The Stanford Letters by Sarah Nicole Prickett

Emily Doe’s account is like an episode of Law & Order: SVU with the victim’s face and body blurred out and her voice turned up. Given that she remembers nothing between midnight (when she wandered away from the party) and 4:15 am (when she woke up at the hospital), she can’t tell us how the violation felt, which weirdly works in her favor: men rape women so often that rape stories start to feel plagiarized.

Essays

Kiddie Porn by Judith Levine

Once in a while, my parents allow some critically authorized highbrow “erotic” periodical like Eros or Evergreen to breach our doorway. But they draw the line at Playboy, in spite of its long, left-leaning pieces by and about important men like Vladimir Nabokov and James Baldwin. Mom and Dad aren’t prudes, they’re snobs. They consider comics, Mad magazine—even mysteries—degraded forms of literature. What would they think of Man to Man? I don’t have to ask.

The Clean by Lizzie Feidelson

While I worked, the owner of the cleaning company followed on my heels. “Good pour,” she said when I tipped the bucket of gray water into the toilet. As the day wore on, I’d catch sight of her standing at the periphery of whatever giant living space I was crouching in, peering around the doorframe while I stacked books. Later, while evacuating Cheerios from between the couch cushions, I saw her pick up the miniature rake in the family’s decorative tabletop Zen garden and carefully comb the sand with its tiny teeth.

Who Works for the Workers? by Gabriel Winant

You can’t ever really be ready for the class war, but much of the job of working-class strategy is to stage and escalate conflict at the most advantageous moments. So-called legacy unions represent living traditions with institutional memories of what worked and what didn’t against an individual boss, in a given industry, or among workers of particular types. It’s an error to perceive union defeat as evidence of some strategic mistake. American workers can do everything right and still lose.

Fiction

Where’s Your Boyfriend? by Jesse Ruddock

Tristan held on to the bench with both hands as they jerked into reverse and pulled away from the dock. Treble Island had come and gone. The boat hit the waves harder without the weight of the other passengers, and he felt each wave as a blow to the stomach. From his stomach a bad feeling rose into his chest and spread across the tops of his shoulders like big hands pressing him down. He was soaring and drowning, or he was crying, that was it.

New Russian Political Poets

Introduction by Keith Gessen

What these poets have in common is a desire to address contemporary Russian realities, and to occupy, through the medium of poetry, a position that has been both the glory and the curse of Russian poetry for the past two hundred years. That is, to be something more than poets.

Brecht, 1933 by Kirill Medvedev

He’s still on top:
spinning out his dialectic
pillorying the fascists
demanding that his books also be burned on the square
and organizing an antibourgeois theater.

Untitled by Galina Rymbu

I see students, fire
people marching, fire
trembling, feeling, blind
invincible and kind, fire

The Language of Violence by Elena Kostyleva

“So you attempt to persuade the rapist not to rape you,” my analyst says.
I clarify: “I wasn’t trying to persuade him not to rape me. I was trying to persuade him not to kill me. I was offering rape in exchange for my life.”
End of session

Four Poems by Roman Osminkin

you know how sometimes you want to write about the working class
you go to the factory district
but there is no working class
just a bunch of hipsters drinking coffee

The “Afghan” Market: Kuzminki by Keti Chukrov

Hello? Yeah, eight spots. I’ll do the cashing out tomorrow.
Two of the coats are rotten: give them to Zoya to sell.
What of it? Stolen coats are still clothing.
I can’t now. Tell Alik not
To fuck up the order. He’s got to feel it out.
No, don’t buy nutria. Later.

Reviews

This Quiet Place Today by A. S. Hamrah

Dirty Pretty Things, Never Let Me Go, Under the Skin, and now The Lobster—British art-house cinema is obsessed with organ harvesting. Forcing people into strange rooms to rob them of their organs or, in the case of The Lobster, to recalibrate their organs and thereby change them into animals . . . I don’t think this is something preying on the minds of Americans. Our worries are more immediate. We’re more likely to be mowed down by an assault rifle in public than we are to have our organs harvested for use by the upper class or space aliens.

Why Are We in the Middle East? by Richard Beck

Unlike many journalists and historians who see the wars in the Middle East as a series of isolated conflicts that happen to have taken place in a single region over several decades, Andrew Bacevich, a career Army officer turned military historian and foreign policy critic, sees a sustained military campaign that began with Jimmy Carter and continues today. “From the end of World War II to 1980, virtually no American soldiers were killed in action while serving in [the Greater Middle East],” Bacevich writes. “Since 1990, virtually no American soldiers have been killed in action anywhere except the Greater Middle East.”

Modern Love by Tobi Haslett

Like McCarthy and the New York Intellectuals of yore, Gary Indiana has acquired the status of a novelist-critic, gleeful in his evisceration of public morality and correction of popular taste. But they had an audience and a sense of ponderous grandeur: Indiana, condemned to a less “intellectual” time, mans his post at the margins. His great theme is solitude.

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