Connected readers!  I’m just back from an idyllic week in Urfa, sacred carp capital of all four hemispheres.

Because the state of internet was not as well-developed as the local cyprinid species, I was unable to post a couple of videos I’d been meaning to share, from a dramatic reading of Lightning Rods (the new novel by Helen Dewitt).  The reading, which was sponsored by n+1 and the Center for Fiction, took place on September 10. By chance I was in town then visiting my mother – just imagine how honored my mom and I were, when I was asked to participate!

I was especially honored once I received the script, and saw that I got all the best lines:

His first fantasy was about walls. The woman would have the upper part of her body on one side of the wall. The lower part of her body would be on the other side of the wall. Sometimes, in fact most of the time, the upper part of the body would be fully clothed. There would be nothing to show what was going on on the other side of the wall.

Sometimes the woman would be naked from the waist down. Most of the time she would be wearing a short tight skirt that could be pushed up and underpants that could be pulled down. Sometimes he would have trouble deciding whether it was better with or without the pants. The high point was pushing the skirt slowly up to reveal a firm, tight, unsuspecting ass. Later a cock would go in and the vantage point of the fantasy would shift to the other side of the wall, where you would not know from the fully clothed upper body of the woman that a cock was hard at work on the other side of the wall. For some reason or other she would need to pretend that nothing was happening.

My mom suggested I should demand a small surcharge every time I said “cock.”  She is always looking out for her little girl.

I learned so much that evening, including an alternate (to me) pronunciation of a certain word. Helen Dewitt, who doesn’t like to read her own work aloud, did a really great Q/A about her creative process:

I really look forward to reading the rest of her funny and prescient novel, which is just out with New Directions!  You can also check out a longer excerpt in the excellent new n+1.

In other publication news I had a short essay in the 9/11 issue of The New Yorker (behind a paywall, sorry).  A longer piece should be coming out very soon!


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2 Responses to “LIGHTNING RODS”

  1. Mehmet Fatih Uslu Says:

    Dear Elif,
    This is Mehmet Fatih Uslu, assistant professor of Turkish literature at Istanbul Şehir University. I’ve recently read your wonderful book and a few days ago realized that you live in Istanbul now. If you have time we would really love to invite you for a talk on The Possessed. (Sorry, I know that’s not the right place, but I could not find your e-mail address.)

  2. SW Foska Says:

    dear elif, I presume you are familiar with the RBTS. Short for the Robert Browning Twat Solecism, this acronym commemorates the moment when the Victorian bard, as if eager to outdo his contemporary Ruskin’s shock-horror-women-have-pubic-hair gaffe, innocently uses the word in his poem Pippa Passes in the belief that it signifies part of a nun’s headgear. For more on the RBTS see here –
    regards, SWF

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