I adore Harper’s Magazine, and read it devoutly, and have done so for nearly two decades.
Often, however, if the story–the fiction story–is too long, I’ll skip that. I read lots of periodicals, and the pressure to keep up is enormous. I make this sacrifice occasionally in order to maintain order in my periodicals universe.
I nearly skipped Ken Kalfus’s “Coup de Foudre” this month because it’s REALLY F-ING LONG. But I’m so glad I didn’t. It’s a really remarkable fictionalization of the downfall of Dominique Strauss-Kahn. I find it remarkable because the story is fully aware that DSK was likely set up by an intelligence sting, while at the same time not excusing the behavior that led French intelligence to know exactly how to get at his ass.
So DSK is a member of the 1%, a power player who thinks of himself as having sympathy for the deprived, the downtrodden, the abused, and yet he is perfectly capable of colonizing by force a defenseless African refugee in a hotel room. He’s an exceptionally competent bureaucrat, a gifted politician, a master at the sort of structural analyses necessary to handle complex international navigations during crises, someone who can cobble together solutions to collapses and economic insecurity in a Europe heading toward dissolution or Utopia depending on your POV. But he can use someone for his pleasure. He is rich. He is powerful. He is respected. And she is not.
DSK befell the same fate as Clinton–remember how Liinda Tripp coached Lewinsky through that whole “affair”?–he was outfoxed by more sophisticated players who saw his weakness for Eyes Wide Shut-style shenanigans.
The story is great, and if you’re not a subscriber you should become one, or purchase it at your local bookstore. Wait, ha ha! Are there such things?