Ian McEwan, "The Use of Poetry"

A guy studies Milton to impress a girl.

(from The New Yorker, Dec. 7, 2009)

Well, that’s not really all it was about. This was really the story of Michael Beard’s life, from the days his mom entered him in chubby baby contest to her deathbed confession to having had affairs to his university days wooing Maisie Farmer. Kind of a magic trick here: It was short and quickly paced, but because unimportant details were weighted pretty much that same as turning points in the characters’ lives, it had a thorough, pondering quality. And no respect for the usual rules about chronological storytelling.
Read it here. I’m still making my way through this stack of New Yorkers.

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