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Author Topic: PC009: Wisteria  (Read 22116 times)
Heradel
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« on: May 27, 2008, 08:26:14 AM »

PC009: Wisteria

By Ada Milenkovic Brown
Read by Máia Whitaker (aka the Knitwitch)
Introduction by Rachel Swirsky
First appeared in Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show

Dirt cake brought Dahlia back to thinking about Garner. Dirt was his element. When they had married and moved into his Great Aunt Euphemia’s shotgun house in Grimesland, there’d been nothing around it but dead grass and dirt. Garner had dug and planted and weeded. And little by little, year after year, it all turned green.

Till his heart attacked him.

Now, all that was left of Garner was leaves — sycamores, hydrangeas, weeping willows, and wisteria. It was all Garner. It had his stamp. She’d just never thought to look for his face in it.


Rated PG. Contains memories, wistful leaves, and sensuality.


Listen to this week's Pod Castle!

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Listener
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« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2008, 02:47:46 PM »

Great reading.  Great story.  But not, IMO, fantasy.  I mean, yes, it had a few fantastic elements, but they could just as well have been Dahlia getting older and wishing she saw Garner in the leaves and her son humoring her when he said he saw the face too.  I would have expected to see this in a literature collection used in college, not in in a fantasy podcast.

Again, which isn't to say I didn't like it.  Because I did.

I think the kids were kind of an extraneous element; I expected the story to come back to them somehow, but it really didn't.  They helped further Dahlia's character as a nice person, but I think that could've been done another way, or with less detail given to them.

A point of conflict for me:  when the hurricane was coming, didn't the narrator say it was Erin?  But Erin, IIRC, was the mid-90s, and yet a sentence or two there's a reference to what happened in New Orleans, ostensibly during Katrina.  So... what gives?

I disagree with the story's selection for this podcast, but not with the merit upon which it was selected -- that it's a good story.
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eytanz
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« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2008, 03:41:26 PM »

A point of conflict for me:  when the hurricane was coming, didn't the narrator say it was Erin?  But Erin, IIRC, was the mid-90s, and yet a sentence or two there's a reference to what happened in New Orleans, ostensibly during Katrina.  So... what gives?

Storm names are re-used every six years unless they cause major devastation, in which case the names are retired. So there won't be another Katrina, but Erin is still in circulation. The last Erin was 2007, the next one will be 2013.

This story didn't do much for me, one way or another. The themes resonated, to some degree, due to my own family history (both my grandmothers have outlives their husbands, and both were married over 50 years - in the case of my maternal grandparents, they were married for nearly 65 years when my grandfather died) - but just not very much. Not a bad story by any means, just not a particularly interesting one.
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ajames
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« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2008, 07:58:30 PM »

I thought this was a beautifully crafted story, well-told, and one that I am glad I have heard.

But I have to admit it didn't really resonate with me, at least not at this time of my life.

Also, like Listener, I wondered if this was properly classified as fantasy (well, okay, Listener didn't seem to be "wondering" about this point). And then I thought of Stoneborn and struggled with why Stoneborn worked for me as a work of fantasy and this story didn't, at least not so much. Either way, I am glad that Podcastle has included stories on the edge of the boundary of fantasy, though I hope such stories remain the exception rather than the rule.
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birdless
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« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2008, 08:32:21 PM »

This story didn't do much for me, one way or another. The themes resonated, to some degree, due to my own family history (both my grandmothers have outlives their husbands, and both were married over 50 years - in the case of my maternal grandparents, they were married for nearly 65 years when my grandfather died) - but just not very much. Not a bad story by any means, just not a particularly interesting one.
All I can do really is echo what Ayeteaeneze said. And I agree with ajames about it being beautifully crafted, but I think for me a large part of that was due to Maia's reading.
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MacArthurBug
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« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2008, 08:59:20 PM »

This was more.. metaphysical fantasy then "fantastic" fantasy. But .. that said, it absolutly resonated with me. The reader got the voice feel of the charactor absolutly dead on. The story itself moved me to tears, multiple times. The way that D. aches for her lost husband. The inability to sleep on her left because that's "his side". Oh goodness, I wept openly. 's good when a story does this.  There were certainly eliments that were weak, but the strngth of the love and emotion in the story made it absolutly fantastic, the echo of potential magic made it amazing.  Good stuff!   As to the new intro thing.. "and we promise it's made up"   MEH.  Try again please?  Podcastle should stand alone not echo it's predicessors. 
« Last Edit: May 27, 2008, 09:01:31 PM by MacArthurBug » Logged

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Rachel Swirsky
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« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2008, 09:36:23 PM »

Quote
Podcastle should stand alone not echo it's predicessors. 


Perhaps I wasn't clear enough: it was a joke.
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Windup
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« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2008, 10:18:44 PM »


I found this one deeply moving, though perhaps for very personal reasons. 

On Memorial Day, my wife, my daughter and I buy several bunches of flowers and place them on some of the unmarked graves.  Sometimes, I look for a particular kind of person or situation.  This year, I chose spouses where one had outlived the other by a substantial margin.  That percipitated some discussions about loss, rememberance and moving on that probably set me up for the impact of this story.  Though I think the main reason it had impact was because it was well-crafted, and the narration was excellent.

Another great PodCastle...
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birdless
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« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2008, 10:36:59 PM »

Quote
Podcastle should stand alone not echo it's predicessors. 


Perhaps I wasn't clear enough: it was a joke.
FWIW, Rachel, I thought this intro was the most comfortable you've sounded yet. And I appreciated the humor! Wink

Good luck on your upcoming nuptials, too!
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trreed
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« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2008, 10:45:36 PM »

Wonderful story, great read by Maia. was good to hear her again.
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gelee
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« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2008, 07:12:38 AM »

As usual, Maia delivers another great read.  I always enjoy her performances, and this was no exception.  The story was well written, especially considering that it was written in dialect, which is damn hard to do well.  It was not flawless, however.  The whole episode with the snooty white people was gratuitous and unnecessary. 
That said, I'm with Listener, etc.: good story, wrong podcast.
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Listener
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« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2008, 07:24:16 AM »

As usual, Maia delivers another great read.  I always enjoy her performances, and this was no exception.  The story was well written, especially considering that it was written in dialect, which is damn hard to do well.  It was not flawless, however.  The whole episode with the snooty white people was gratuitous and unnecessary. 
That said, I'm with Listener, etc.: good story, wrong podcast.

Well, I would say that it was necessary for character-building that we see Dahlia can't read but works as a cook for snooty white people, but my issue was with the amount of focus on the kids.  Dahlia, in the beginning, said something about how they only started calling her "Miz Dahlia" since Civil Rights, so it worked... though I do agree somewhat that it was a BIT gratuitous in that there was no real payoff for that part of the story.
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« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2008, 04:40:31 PM »

Great reading, very good story, and a very good intro.  Not really much for me to complain about this episode. 

I understand what Listener is saying about feeling like it's on the border of fantasy, but I enjoyed listening to it.  The setting felt absolutely real, as did the dialect (thanks to Maia Whitaker's reading), and what Dahlia was going through just about broke my heart. 
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cuddlebug
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« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2008, 04:41:40 AM »

Wonderful story, very emotional. What is it with EP and PC stories (rarely PP stories, but nothing is impossible, I might cry at the next monster ripping a girl's heart out after making her fall in love with him, or something), so what is it with these stories bringing me to tears on a regular basis? It certainly didn't help that I was walking past a cute old couple holding hands as they walked slowly and shakily past me this morning, and I saw them just as the story got very emotional.

The pacing felt just right and I have to agree with McArthurBug (oh, I just noticed that, a fellow crustacean or anthropod or hermiptera Shocked), the reading was superb, perfect for the character, and easy to understand for a non-native speaker of English, since the accent was barely noticeable.

As for the question whether this is fantasy or what kind of fantasy it is, I don't really care, with all of the stories on EP, PP and PC. The boundaries are blurred anyway, and I am actually very happy with that, for  the stories are even richer for it.

And Rachel: well done for the intro, it seemed natural and personal and was able to draw me into the right mood for the story. It seems like personal information, anecdotes etc. are very good for these intros, most of us tend to respond very positively if the intro has a familiar and personal element to it. But obviously it is up to you guys how much of your personal life and experiences you really want to give away to your listeners.

*And all the best for the wedding, Rachel. Maybe one day in about 50 years someone walks past you and your husband holding hands and they can't help thinking how cute you are. Oh, I am sooooo jealous ... and of course very happy for you. LOL*

BTW
The tagline was funny, ... "and I promise you it is NOT true" would have been too obvious, I guess.
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Nobilis
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« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2008, 05:14:21 PM »

Lovely story.  Not fantasy, but it doesn't belong anywhere else in the Escape Artists empire either, so I have no problem with it being here. Otherwise I wouldn't have heard it.
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Chivalrybean
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« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2008, 11:56:19 PM »

Quote
Podcastle should stand alone not echo it's predicessors. 


Perhaps I wasn't clear enough: it was a joke.

I'm glad it was a joke, for reals! I was like, no, please no {:0p Also, congrats! I have been married just over a year and a half and I highly recommend marriage!

If Dahlia was going a bit bonkers, or was just imagining her husband was in the wisteria, then no, not fantasy, but if he WAS, then, it is fantasy.

If I wanted a CD of bedtime stories to put my *bragging father alert* brand new baby girl Melody (7lbs 2oz, 22in) *bragging father alert* to sleep, Máia Whitaker whould be a fine candidate. That is meant as a compliment.

I liked the story, wasn't a favorite story, I found the grumpy children annoying, but I liked that Dahlia found what she was looking for.

Podcastle still is my least favorite on the Escape Artists Trifecta, but I still listen. I have never been a big fantasy person, but wince I got an iPod, I've found that there is fantasy I really do like. I've always liked Tolkien, but hardly read any other fantasy save for one series by Tad Williams and many Xanth novels (I'm all about the horrible horrible puns), Working on th Discworld series, but that is about it. I certainly like variety, but so far Podcastle in many cases hasn't really a favorite, if Pseudopod and Escape Pod are any example, I know Podcastle will play many other types of stories and I'll find one I really like. I do like the stories for sure, just few have been my cup of ale. I've never had ale, though... hmm...
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« Reply #16 on: May 31, 2008, 12:33:50 PM »

This story didnt really do much for me, it wasnt bad per say, just boring and forgettable
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Ocicat
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« Reply #17 on: May 31, 2008, 01:09:08 PM »

This story was nice, it didn't blow me away, but it passed the commute very pleasantly.  Loved the reading. 

And I do think it was fantasy.  Not all magic has to be as obvious as shooting fireballs or making rain fall upwards.  It's okay if the supernatural elements are subjective and deniable.  My question is, according to the editors does this fall under the category of contemporary fantasy or magical realism?  I know we're "touring subgenera" and right now we're somewhere between those two.  I'd think it was magical realism, but a quick read of the Wikipedia article leads me to believe I may not really understand that term.  Or perhaps, that no one does...
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Rachel Swirsky
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« Reply #18 on: May 31, 2008, 06:43:11 PM »

Hey Ocicat,

Genre borders aren't always distinct... of course, as you know.  I would call this story straight-up contemporary fantasy (and for me, it's pretty clearly in the fantasy genre), but you could surely make an argument for it being magical realism.

I haven't hopped over to the wiki page, but I expect what's going on in terms of sub-genre confusion is that magical realism is usually associated with a kind of post-colonial literature that has to do with the inflection of western forms (particularly the novel) with indigenous belief systems. So, you get Isabelle Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Salman Rushdie, and so on, writing magical realism (even possibly Toni Morrison depending on how you want to classify things).

Because of that, the term magical realism has a bit of a political edge to it, especially it's used in academic circles. Academics can sometimes get a little fiddly about calling stuff by white, western people magical realism.

It's fairly popular among writers, as opposed to like literature PhDs, to talk about magical realism as something decontextualized from its sociopolitical origins. It's probably a sloppy use of the term, but language is a living entity, blah blah. A lot of times when you hear a writer talking about magical realism (or a reader talking about it in a nonchalant context) they mean "a work that contains fantasy, but also uses more literary devices." It's a way for writers to sort of position themselves on the boundary of literary and mainstream.

Here's how I use contemporary fantasy and magical realism:

"Wisteria" doesn't quite, IMO, hold up when subjected to literary expectations -- which, you know, it doesn't need to; it's a fantasy story. It seems, to me, to be playing a lot more within the expectations of the fantasy genre, in terms of how the story is structured, than it does with literary tropes. So, I'd call it contemporary fantasy.

Next week's story, "Magic in a Certain Slant of Light" by Deb Coates, initially appared in Strange Horizons and was reprinted in Best Paranormal Romance. The author, Deborah Coates, regularly publishes in Asimov's. So clearly, the story has genre credibility. At the same time, I think the story fulfills literary expectations as well as fantasy expectations, and could have been published in one of the more liberal mainstream magazines. So it feels more like magical realism to me.

A lot of people use the term "slipstream" interchangeably with magical realism, though I tend to reserve it for describing things that are really fucking weird, particularly when they exemplify elements of more than one genre. Like, when they have both magic and high technology, but in a modern sort of voice.

So: in summary -- magical realism or contemporary fantasy... you could call it either, and be right. ;-)
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birdless
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« Reply #19 on: June 01, 2008, 01:06:43 AM »

[ridiculous nitpick]You don't bake dirt cake. Dirt cake is more like a trifle than a cake (the Oreos essentially taking the role of the sponge cake).[/ridiculous nitpick]

While admittedly, this is nit-picky (perhaps to an extreme), it does sorta bug me when the research isn't thorough, especially if I'm sorta on the fence about the story to begin with.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2008, 01:10:47 AM by birdless » Logged
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