Author Alexander Weinstein, the first visiting writer of the College of Fine Arts and Communication’s 2017-18 Artists in Residence season, told stories of an unsettling near-future world during a reading on Oct. 5 in the College of Business Auditorium.
Weinstein, whose work has been lauded by the likes of Kirkus Reviews and The New York Times, read
“Migration,” a short story from his book, “Children of the New World.”
In “Migration,” an estranged couple struggles to rekindle their relationship and to connect with their
preteen son, Max, but that’s where the story’s predictability ends.
The family of three has never stepped foot outside of their home because they live their lives entirely
The father teaches literature at a virtual university, the mother works from home as a designer, creating
online digital landscapes, and Max dutifully attends middle school online, although his parents suspect he is doing virtual drugs.
The father senses he is growing apart from his wife — the two haven’t physically kissed in eight years
because they only have sex through virtual avatars — and Max, who aligns himself with the “angry anti-tech
youth” movement, plots to find a way out of the house.
After finding a bicycle pump, Max repairs a rusted bike in the family’s garage and escapes the house.
The father frantically chases Max, leaving the house for the first time in years, and the two reunite in an abandoned lot.
During this final scene, the father is forced to reckon with the consequences of a world inundated by
“Even a quick glance at Alexander’s stories reveal a world both familiar and completely terrifying,”
Associate Professor of Creative Writing John Vanderslice said. “He has a unique intuition for taking
current technology and rendering that technology in such an exaggerated form that his narratives seem less like
straightforward science fiction than they do parables about our everyday lives and the here and now — what
we’ve lost, what we’re losing, what we might reclaim and what we can never get back, at least in any form that feels comforting.”
Weinstein said one of the main ironies in “Migration” is that although the characters are able to connect with
each other in advanced technological ways, they cannot connect organically.
“The real problem for [the husband and wife in “Migration”] is not connecting,” Weinstein said.
“My advice is to maybe turn off our phones for maybe just an hour, then two hours, then go bicycling without
your phone, then call up friends and sit around a table and talk, play guitar, play frisbee, go to the beach, whatever. Do real things.”
After the reading, Weinstein signed copies of “Children of the New World.”