Published: “They Are in the Truth”

“They Are in the Truth” by John Pistelli.

Please click to read my short story, “They Are in the Truth,” published in The Stockholm Review of Literature. I think it is the best story I’ve written. It is a slightly surreal and comic-menacing narrative about the timeless problem of art vs. everyday life and the timely problem of the economic and cultural degradation of artists and intellectuals today. I don’t think anyone but the fine editors of The Stockholm Review has read it yet, but a friend to whom I summarized it over the phone said, “It sounds like Hawthorne!” If you do read it, feel free to respond. An excerpt:

LeBon stood at my mismatched shelves, scavenged mostly from garbage bins, and carelessly rifled through the curled and damp pages of my books. He would take one down, flip its leaves harshly, and then throw it to the floor. “Really,” he said, “what the fuck do you do?”

“I’m a writer, I’m an adjunct prof—”

“Not asking for job titles. I mean, how do you fit into the world? What do you do to keep the gears turning? How do you help people?”

To be honest, I do not know now what I said. Maybe I said something about critical thinking. Textual analysis makes better citizens. Careful reading calls into question our received categories. Scholarship in cultural history tells us where we have been and where we are going. While no one had yet given any evidence of having read my article, “The Rationalizers’ Tragedy: Subverting Enlightenment and Restoring Commons in Brown’s Wieland and Goethe’s Die Wahlverwandtschaften” (Journal of Comparative Literature, 16:3 [Spring 2012]: 201-227), I nevertheless thought it had the potential “to revise significantly our understanding of the trans-Atlantic epistemological networks connecting the early American novel to German Romanticism,” as I believe I wrote in a grant proposal once.

P. S. I don’t want to condescend, gentle reader, but this is a time when context cannot be assumed, so please let me offer the friendly reminder that the opinions and attitudes of a fictional first-person narrator are not to be confused with those of the author. There is always the possibility of pervasive irony in fictional narration.