Wednesday, April 25, 2012


It isn't very often that I will point you, faithful readers, in the direction of a story that I've read in the New Yorker. New Yorker fiction is too trendy for my tastes. Alice Monro excepted I find the stories all a bit up themselves. Even languid, ironic detachment gets boring and metafictional narratives just don't do it for me. When the story is told straight it's usually about very rich, white, upper middle class Manhattanites or Brooklynites who simply get on my nerves. As a consequence its not very often these days that I'll finish a fiction piece in the New Yorker. 
An interesting exception occurred in the latest issue of the magazine which managed to wing its way to my letter box in Australia. It was a story by the great Irish writer Colum McCann who won the National Book Award with his terrific novel Let The Great World Spin. The story is called TransAtlantic and is about the very first aeroplane flight across the Atlantic by two Royal Flying Corps aviators Alcock and Brown. Yes you heard me right. Charles Lindbergh was not the first person to fly non stop across the Atlantic. Nor the second, nor the third or the fourth. Americans don't believe me when I tell them this because somehow old Nazi loving Lindbergh convinced the world that it was important to fly across the Atlantic alone. (As if Neil Armstrong's achievement is any less important because he had a couple of friends with him). Alcock and Brown are still famous in Ireland and no visit to Clifden is complete without a trip to the bog where they touched down/crashed after their amazing non stop flight.  
Colum McCann's story about this flight is a throwback to the era when people would buy the Saturday Evening Post and Colliers and The New Yorker just to read the short fiction. It's chatty, exciting, economical, old fashioned, with some lovely turns of phrase. I really loved it and I'd like you to read it too. Unfortunately because of the all the New Yorker's firewalls I can't extract it or link to it here, but you can read it in the library (its the April 9th issue) or listen to Colum McCann reading it himself, here