Curtis Sittenfeld’s “Creative Differences” in The Cut

I’ve been a huge fan of Sittenfeld’s work since reading her debut novel Prep when I was fifteen, so you can bet that the minute this short story showed up in my feed, I dropped everything and devoured it. Sittenfeld has a knack for skewering her characters even as she invites you to empathize with them, and her observations on the politics of gender, social class, and geography are downright brilliant. In “Creative Differences,” she turns her gimlet eye to art, commerce, exposure, and—of course—the Midwest.

— Antonia Angress

I told myself, Melissa, just enjoy this success and attention that’s probably once in a lifetime. Then, a few months later, my shaving pictures got even more attention. And I felt weird about those, too. As a feminist, for one thing, and also I was like, has the entire world really just seen my pubes? Who will ever date me now?” When Ben laughs, she says, “I’m not joking. I know there’s this idea, with social media and everything, that we all want as much attention as possible, all the time, but one of the things about my early success that’s been eye-opening is that I’ve gotten so much attention and it doesn’t feel that great. It feels strange. That’s helped me realize that my goal isn’t to find the biggest audience. It’s to be able to keep taking pictures and to find an audience who really appreciates what I do.