Emma Cline’s “Marion”
August 9, 2013 | by Lorin Stein
In the first three years that I edited The Paris Review—a reader pointed out last spring—we never published a short story from a child’s point of view. This wasn’t a matter of principle. I just like stories in which the narrator knows as much as possible. I like to see a writer stretch to represent a consciousness as big, as clued-in, as grown-up as the reader’s own mind. What’s called dramatic irony—where the writer and reader sort of conspire together over the narrator’s head—doesn’t interest me. Except every once in a while, when it does.
From the first sentence of “Marion”—“Cars the color of melons and tangerines sizzled in cul-de-sac driveways”—Emma Cline takes us inside the thoughts of an eleven-year-old girl who does not always understand the adults around her, or the sexual desires of her older best friend, but who intensely feels their heat. The language is so vivid, Cline registers her confusion so exactly, that she creates the same confusion in the reader. Part of us knows what’s going on between these girls, part of us is lost and needs the story to take us by the hand. Which it brilliantly does, as you will hear in this excerpt read by Cline herself.
Read the full story in our Summer 2013 issue.