Yelling at Amazon's Alexa

The New Yorker

The first time I met Alexa, the A.I. robot voice inside the wine-bottle-size speaker known as the Amazon Echo, I was at my friends' house, in rural New England. "Currently, it is seventy-five degrees," she told us, and assured us that it would not rain. This was a year ago, and I'd never encountered a talking speaker before. She's in cahoots with a sensor in their driveway.) When I razzed my friend for his love of gadgetry, he showed me some of Alexa's other tricks: telling us the weather, keeping a shopping list, ordering products from Amazon.

This Week in Fiction: Lara Vapnyar on Living According to Leonard Cohen Lyrics

The New Yorker

Your piece in this week's issue, "Waiting for the Miracle," tells the story of a young Russian man who arrives in the U.S. for the first time and spends a night looking for the miracle of a true New York City adventure. His expectations are actually met. Do you think that's a common experience for a Russian émigré in New York? But only to those Russian émigrés who live according to Leonard Cohen's lyrics as if they were the Bible. Leonard Cohen songs form a kind of soundtrack to the piece (and give it its title).