Widely admired for her intellectually rigorous yet compassionate debut novel, The Last Samurai, Helen DeWitt is also one of our slyest satirists, as evidenced by her acclaimed second novel, Lighting Rods. That edge is on display in the new Evergreen story, "Sexual Codes of the Europeans," which is about what you think it's about, but not in the way you think. As achingly lonely as it is erudite, DeWitt's prose reminds us of Flaubert's great line about language: "a cracked pot on which we beat out rhythms for bears to dance to when we are striving to make music that will wring tears from the stars."
— Dale Peck
artwork by Andrew Topel