At the Paris Review, Courtney Zoffness discusses her book, Spilt Milk, with Lynn Steger Strong, and how writing it was an exercise in embracing uncertainty. “Endings are so deceptive,” Zoffness says. “That final period gives the illusion of resolution or conclusion when my thoughts and feelings on nearly every subject and experience in Spilt Milk remain unresolved. I think that one of the aims of an essay is to ask questions, not necessarily answer them, and I try to embed this spirit of inquiry in each piece, to be transparent about my own internal conflicts or uncertainty along the way—whether over parental choices or astrology or my feelings about other people. I want to show messiness. This approach hopefully trains readers not to expect a resolution, but it can also make it harder for me to discern the right endnote. Several of these endings gelled through trial and error.”
Alexander Chee has a stunning new story in Guernica. He writes, “I wanted to eat and so I learned to sing…It took more than a witch to make a singer out of me.” Pair with Claire Cameron’s Millions interview with the author about his new novel, The Queen of the Night.
If you received a text from an unknown number saying, “sup you comnig to this thing?”, would you respond? Michael Cera imagines the ensuing conversation in his epistolary humor piece, “My Man Jeremy,” for The New Yorker. Depending on how you feel about the actor, the piece is either endearingly awkward or annoying, but it’s very Cera — complete with anxiety and references to how he always gets mixed up with fellow “Shouts & Murmurs” contributor Jesse Eisenberg.