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You Should Read: The TV by Ben Loory

April 21, 2010

You Should Read is a new weekly Wednesday short where I suggest short stories and poems on the web to bide a little time on this dreadful–when will Friday come?–24hrs in the middle of the week.

I’ve been meaning to read “The TV” by Ben Loory which was featured in The New Yorker a few weeks ago. The story is about a man who stays home one day from work and discovers that there is a TV channel about himself, or, his other self, and thereafter the man becomes engrossed with the show. As time passes, his other self changes in reflection of the man’s world. When the man notices he chews his lips on TV, for example, he begins to try to stop chewing his lips in ‘real life,’ causing his other self to stop chewing his lips. And yet, his other self is different,  better; he reads intellectual books, asks his boss for a raise, hosts corporate meetings, etc, and his ‘real self’ begins to feel jealous. Basically, the story has an awesome and eerie premise, which quickly reminded me of Gogol’s “The Nose” or any of Jorge Luis Borges’s stories (which commonly feature Borges as a character), specifically “El Otro.” The ending in particular is artfully done, but I promise I won’t tell you a thing!

First  Line(s): “One day the man wakes up and finds that he does not feel like going to work. He is not sick, exactly; he just doesn’t feel like going to work.

Favorite Line: “He is shampooing his hair when suddenly he realizes: the show was about him. Not kind of about him, not metaphorically about him, but actually about him.”

Reading Time: 15min

Level of Enjoyment: Made me rethink that The New Yorker is going down the tubes; incited a shiver of fear/delight; and, made me want to google/stalk Ben Loory and become best friends with him and become twitter buddies with him and basically steal all of his talent and read this interview and this nonfic piece and this fiction piece of his because I’m OBSESSED.

By the way, what stories have you been reading on the World Wide Web of late? Let me know!

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. April 21, 2010 7:57 pm

    anyone who reads gogol and borges is already my best friend!

    but it’s nice to meet you anyway. i’m glad you liked the story. i liked reading about you reading it.

  2. April 21, 2010 8:08 pm

    and nice to meet you! I liked reading about you reading what I was reading–made me feel pretty special. Besides, always nice to meet a new amigo in the blogosphere.

  3. April 22, 2010 3:56 am

    the word “blogosphere” has always made me a little nervous. sort of like the word “testament.” i think they both make me feel vaguely left out.

    the word “puddle,” on the other hand, feels very inclusive. likewise “brownie,” “fudge,” and “macaroon.” though actual macaroons are kind of gross. in my opinion.

    what are your never-ending manuscripts about?

  4. April 22, 2010 3:57 am

    tell me so i can steal your ideas!

    • April 22, 2010 9:12 am

      blogosphere sounds fun to me, but I don’t usually feel like im ‘a part of it’ so I understand what you mean. Hmmm, my never-ending manucripts….well, since I do love the opportunity to have my ideas stolen:

      I’ve been working on this novel since last January, and the one I’m working on is about ‘being judgemental’ ‘growing up’ ‘taking responsibility’ ‘being authentic’ and, ‘being crass.’ Superficialy, you could probably call it a female coming of age story, though ‘coming of age’ sounds juvenile. Check out my “projects” page for a better description.

  5. May 2, 2010 10:48 pm

    I’m a Ben Loory stalker now, too. I even friended him on Facebook. I don’t always get to the New Yorker fiction and often feel let down. But this story–you put it better than me: “Made me rethink that The New Yorker is going down the tubes; incited a shiver of fear/delight;” The man is going far. I’m in awe.

    • May 2, 2010 11:12 pm

      I know! How can you not feel so completely in awe! Maybe his talent will rub off on us 😉

  6. Lyss permalink
    October 4, 2012 4:47 am

    My friend just happened to be assigned this book in his english 103 course and needed help getting some ideas for his essay so i decided to read this and help me. I am Super glad that i did because this short story was pretty deep in so many levels and i really enjoyed it ! 🙂

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