Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fragile Things ~ Neil Gaiman, Week Seven

Late again, but are you really surprised?  So here are the details, last week's post, and this week's other posts.  Onward!

"In the End" is a reverse story of one of the Bible's Creation stories, in which someone seems to be rewinding the surveillance camera at the Garden of Eden.  Okay, that bit's my addition, but you get the point.  I like when people do clever little things with that particular tale and this is a clever little thing, so I liked it.  I would like to know how one takes away names, though.

"Goliath" is about a rather large person whose world keeps pausing, resulting in him accidentally meeting a member of the system maintenance team.  Then there's this bit where the CPU teaches him how to fly fancy new technology in the real world outside of the computer world we live in and he saves the real world à la Ender.  But then they're all like, we didn't bother figuring out how to get you out of that there plane but you've got like an hour of oxygen so that's cool.  And he's like, Alright but could you maybe plug my USB into the world I used to think was the real world again?  And he goes there (AKA here) and has this awesome life and then he's back in the plane and about to die but it's cool because he had that awesome fake life.  À la Second Life.

So I kind of like those stories where they're like TWIST!  This life you've been living is just an artificial construction performed to see if you can do something that we need you to do but it's a one-shot deal so we had to make sure.  And hey READER.  Maybe you've got the same shiznat going on.  Are ya scared??  Are ya?!  Because then I get to be pleasantly paranoid and mildly flattered and it's cool.  Though I think I prefer the Goosebumps story where the family's trailer gets detached and the kids end up at the creepiest summer camp ever.  Or the novel in which a 17th century village is actually a people zoo, which The Village ripped off.  This was okay, but the whole fighting the aliens thing was underwhelming.  And what was the point of him being so large?!  But I hate The Matrix, which "Goliath" was apparently written for pre-release.  And again I wish that Gaiman had actually come up with the idea for the stories in this book himself.  And also, meh.

"Pages from a Journal Found in a Shoebox Left in a Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma and Louisville, Kentucky."  GASP CAN'T BREATHE.  In which some creeper writes a journal while chasing an imaginary person named Scarlet who may or may not be him/herself around the United States.  It's odd, in an itchy kind of way.  There's something there - Scarlet seems to have some substance without actually being real - and you can't get away from it.  Then at the end, he writes "Remember" on a post card in lipstick and it gets taken by the wind, just like a postcard he found at the beginning, and you can see him stuck in a loop.  The best part is the question of why he has abandoned his journal?  And did he abandon everything else in the shoebox?  I liked this one.  Mysterious without just flat-out failing to tell you things.

OH WAIT A SECOND, I HAVEN'T READ THE LAST ONE YET.  HANG ON.

**dum dum dum**

**insert lame hold music**

**some Muzak**

**almost there**

**thinking**

**processing**

**three days later**

Okay, here it is.  "How to Talk to Girls at Parties" is the last story of this week's selections and the fifth to last of the whole collection.  It starts off rather dully, narrated by a 15-year old boy who's being dragged to a party by his more socially savvy friend.  At said party, they find dim lighting, hot girls, and weird music.  The girls his friend encourages him to talk to say weird things which he fails to hear because he's so worried about getting with them and behaves like a junior male chauvinist.  The girls are apparently tourists from another world/galaxy/something-or-other and one claims to be a poem which she starts to recite until his friend races out of an upstairs bedroom and drags him off, flipping out, and you never find out what happened up there.  The friend says, cryptically, "I think there's a thing.  When you've gone as far as you dare.  And if you go any further, you wouldn't be you anymore?  You'd be the person who'd done that?  The places you just can't go... I think that happened to me tonight" (269).  This is an interesting sentiment, especially when seemingly connected to teen sex by an apparently confident teen boy, but is that even what he's talking about?  Did he attempt to diddle her?  Did she diddle him?  Is it something completely other??  I'm not a huge fan of mystery created by not telling you things (see comment on previous selection).  The frame was a little dull but could have been saved and even justified by something interesting having to do with the poem-martians, but then we're just left hanging.  What is up with that?!  Also, I think that "The Places You Just Can't Go" would have been a much better title for this.

So, this week was 50/50, which is better than some other weeks.  Only one week to go!  I actually haven't even started the selections for tomorrow's post, so I have no idea how I'm going to manage that, but we can always hope, right?  I hope at least to get it up by Monday, AKA the last day of the RIP challenge.  I'm going to go read right at this moment.  Really.  I promise I won't sleeeeee.........

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