Jean Hanff Korelitz

EXTRACT: You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz

An extract from Jean Hanff Korelitz's new novel

“Hey, can we do a few close-ups? You mind?” said Ron.

Should she mind? Grace thought. Did she get a vote?

“All right,” said Rebecca, confirming that the question was not for her. Grace leaned forward. The lens seemed so close, only inches away. She wondered if she could look through it and see his eye on the other side; she peered deep into it, but there was only the glassy dark surface and the thunderous clicking noise: no one was in there. Then she wondered if she would feel the same if it were Jonathan holding the camera, but she actually couldn’t remember a single time when Jonathan had held a camera, Click, let alone a camera this close to her face. She was the default photographer in her family, though with none of the bells and whistles currently on display in her little office, and with none of Ron’s evident skill, and with no passion at all for the form. She was the one who took the birthday pictures and the camp visiting-weekend pictures, Click, the photo of Henry asleep in his Beethoven costume, and Click, the photo of him playing chess with his grandfather, Click, her own favorite picture of Jonathan, minutes after finishing a Memorial Day road race up at the lake, with a cup of water thrown over his face and an expression of unmistakable pride and just distinguishable lust. Or was it only in retrospect, Grace thought, Click, that she had always seen lust in that picture, because later, running the numbers, she had realized that Henry was about to be conceived, just hours after it was taken. After Jonathan had eaten a bit and stood for a long time under a hot shower, after he had taken her to her own childhood bed and, Click, rocked over her, saying her name again and again, and she remembered feeling so happy, and, Click, so utterly lucky, and not because they were actually in the act of making the child she wanted so badly, but because at that specific moment even the possibility of that did not matter to her, nothing but him and, Click, them and this, and now the memory of this, rushing up to the surface: the eye and the other eye through the lens that must be looking back.

“That’s nice,” Ron said, lowering the camera. Now she could see his eye again: brown, after all, and utterly unremarkable. Grace nearly laughed in embarrassment. “No, it was good,” he said, misunderstanding. “And you’re done.”

You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff KorelitzExtracted from You Should Have Known, published by Faber and Faber and is available from Read an interview with the author on Faber’s blog.

Photograph: Mark Czajkowski



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