In our continuing series entitled “From the Archives,” we look at the work of two young fiction writers both of whom were published for the first time in Harvard Review. While this is unusual it is certainly not unheard of, and we are always ecstatic when it occurs. We think it’s our job to discover new writers and there is something particularly exciting about publishing a writer, young or old, who has never had anything in print before.
Charles Yu’s first published story, “Problems for Self-Study” (HR 23), leapt out at us not just because of its eccentric presentation (which might as easily have worked against it), but because it miraculously managed to pack a complex and moving human drama into the rigid confines of a formal outline. A clever and quirky illustration of the principle of expressive form, the story examines the limitations of a schematic worldview in the face of such messy human emotions as love. Yu, who practices law in California, has gone on to publish both a novel, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (Pantheon, 2010), and a short story collection, Third Class Superhero (Mariner, 2006).
Jason Lewis’s story, “Rodolfo and Nélida” (HR 33), was another, quite different kind of pleasure. Pulled from the slush pile by a reader, it impressed us all with its vitality and freshness. A rough, lively, unexpected tale about drug runners and romance, it was all the more refreshing to us in New England because of its southwestern setting. In 2007 the author’s biographical note read: “Jason Lewis is a twenty-four-year-old college drop-out with a novel in progress. He was born in Texas, raised in Minnesota, and currently makes his home in New Mexico. This is his first publication.” Whether he went on to finish either the novel or the degree we unfortunately don’t know, but we think he made a promising beginning.
Problems for Self-Study
Rodolfo and Nélida