Cranberry Relish by Katherine Heiny, 2014
The magic trick:
Appealing to a very specific demographic
Strange comp, but this story reminds me a bit of Trump’s presidency.
What a horribly mean thing to say, right?
Well, maybe it’s just on my mind because I write this in July of 2020.
Anyway, let me explain.
Trump seems completely disinterested in reaching out to anyone but his base. Anyone else? He doesn’t care about you in the slightest.
And even as I assume one Katherine Heiny would be appalled at the comparison, I would argue this story really doesn’t concern itself with expanding its would-be audience. It is fiction targeted at a very specific demographic – parents approaching middle age with equal parts desire to keep pace with the modern world and exhaustion with all of it. So we get jokes about kale and references to social media that seem to revel in their own “Hey, I’ve heard of Twitter, so that’s kind of cool, right?” attitude.
It’s difficult to read this story without picturing exactly the kind of person who the author imagined would be reading this story.
Which is great (especially if you fall into that audience).
Target that demo and go get ’em!
And that’s quite a trick on Heiny’s part.
“How did you meet?” Josie asks.
Billy sighs. “Well, we haven’t actually met,” he says. “I got to know her on Twitter.”
Twitter. Yes, yes. Josie and Billy met on Facebook. But Paisley and Billy met on Twitter, because times are changing. And if you don’t believe that, you haven’t noticed how many people all eat kale now.
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