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Emma Cline Talks “Upstate” to the New Yorker

Emma Cline on Performative Vacationing

The author discusses “Upstate,” her story from the latest issue of the magazine.

By Deborah Treisman

In your story “Upstate,” a couple takes a weekend trip to a small town in upstate New York, where they stay in a house that they’ve rented through a Web site. While they attempt to enjoy the trip, we see some tensions in their relationship play out. What made you choose a weekend trip like this one as a backdrop?

A vacation or a trip can often act as a pressurizer on a relationship, exaggerating existing issues or dynamics. I wanted Paul and Kate’s trip to feel slightly artificial—a “weekend away,” where they never actually get “away.” For these characters, there is an element of performance—a self-consciousness about “vacationing,” the pressure to have a good time. They are constantly taking the temperature of what they are doing: Are we having fun? Are we eating the “good” things? Are we having peak experiences? And then there are so many opportunities to feel that they are doing it wrong. Read the full interview at the New Yorker.

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