Freedom from the Internet

Levy is the newest literary “It Girl,” He rnew short story collection is My First Book

by Santiago Ramos at Wisdom of Crowds: I’m moving, which means I’ve spent the last few days disoriented between pillars of boxes, lost without my daily routine and familiar living space. No time to sit and read, so I’ve been trying audiobooks for the first time. I am halfway through Honor Levy’s new short story collection, My First Book, which is available for free on Spotify. Part of what drew me to it is Levy’s recording: a hypnotic monotone rhythm, which is getting me through the boring chore of packing.

I was also curious about Levy’s book because her name is everywhere right now. She is the newest literary “It Girl,” the bold satirist who will tell us what it’s like to be alive in the metropolitan vanguard of American culture. That I could identify her as such even before I read her work is a marketing coup. But she is more than a brand; artistically, she fulfills the role of a social novelist. Levy’s stories  are full of the shibboleths and slang of the generation that grew up on the Internet. The longest story in the book, “Z is for Zoomer,” is an engrossing mock-dictionary of cultural references and signifiers. Part of the enjoyment of reading “the-way-we-live-now” fiction is tracking the ratio between familiarity and novelty: How many of these references and words do I already know? versus How many of them are new to me? It’s a way of figuring out how old you are. Cringe. Going stealth. Looksmaxxing. Wojack. MSNBC solidarity. Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Normie. Bluepilled. Edgelord. Some of these – like Manic Pixie Dream Girl – are already decades old. Others are not part of popular culture in a broad sense. They have limited currency: The cultural scene that Levy inhabits (or, once inhabited) is, I’ve been told, small, New York-centric, and “Right-adjacent.”

Levy also describes the new meanings of old words: “Like used to mean ‘like,’ but we are, like, moments away from its evolution into a catchall term for any expression of acknowledgement or validation.” Other protean terms include “spectrum” and “capitalism” and “autism.” Then there’s her cultural references, which really did make me feel old. I didn’t know who Lil B was. I didn’t know that Greece replaced Hungary as the cheap go-to country for wandering twenty somethings. More importantly, I am old enough to have been spared the fate of spending my teenage years on the Internet…

More here.