Redux: Snared By Sin



Every week, the editors of The Paris Review lift the paywall on a selection of interviews, stories, poems, and more from the magazine’s archive. You can have these unlocked pieces delivered straight to your inbox every Sunday by signing up for the Redux newsletter.



Doesn’t summer begin to feel … dull? Like, who can stomach all this tedious sunshine anyway?

Before you go looking for some mischievous fun, consider Max Frisch’s definition of sin from his 1989 Writers at Work interview: “a lack of capacity for love”; read Yiyun Li’s “Persimmons,” a short story about punishment and drought; and learn what happened to a misfortunate youth in Greg Kosmicki’s poem “Lester Pyrtle Gets Snared By Sin and Caught in the Act By God in Old Man Mooney’s Barn, Summer, 1956.” 


Max Frisch, The Art of Fiction No. 113
Issue no. 113 (Winter II 1989)

For me, I think sin would be a lack of capacity for love. If I’m not able to love anybody, not even myself, or my dog, not my mother, or you—this inability to love would be a sin. Perhaps not the word sin, but disaster. Therefore, the heaviest accusation I can imagine is the one I have in Triptych—that someone would tell you you are incapable of loving. So you’re a liar, you’re cruel, you’re possessive—these are minor details compared with that. Not being able to love, for me that means not being allowed to exist.



By Yiyun Li
Issue no. 171 (Fall 2004)

April comes and April goes, and May, and June, all passing by without shedding a drop of rain. The sky has been a blue desert since spring. The sun rises every morning, a bright white disk growing larger and hotter each day. Cicadas drawl halfheartedly in the trees. The reservoir outside the village has shrunken into a bathtub for the boys, peeing at each other in the waist-deep water.



Lester Pyrtle Gets Snared By Sin and Caught in the Act By God in Old Man Mooney’s Barn, Summer, 1956
By Greg Kosmicki
Issue no. 69 (Spring 1977)

In the July hot smelly horse manure dust
out behind old man Mooney’s barn
that sits just at the outskirts of the town
Lester comes upon the treasure for which
he kept his eyes close to the ground
and searched for half the summer:
a yellowed tag of a corner of a page…


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