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Author Topic: PC039: Honest Man  (Read 6302 times)
Heradel
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« on: January 22, 2009, 12:11:00 PM »

PC039: Honest Man

by Naomi Kritzer
Read by Ann Leckie

“Excuse me…” The man from the front of the restaurant was talking to the waitress, his face obviously distressed. “I am so, so sorry, ma’am, but I just realized that I left my wallet back at my room. I’m going to have to go get it before I can pay, but I don’t want you to think I’m running out on my bill. I can leave my instrument here as security…” He had a violin case, Iris saw; he opened it up to show the waitress the violin inside. “This is a good violin. I paid fifty dollars for it, a few years back, but I think it’s worth more.”

The waitress glanced at it and grunted. “It looks like it’s worth more than your meal, anyway. Go ahead and get your wallet.”

“I’ll be right back,” he promised, and went back out into the rain.

Iris was finishing her sandwich when she heard Leo say, “Can I take a look at that?”

“What, the violin?” The waitress shrugged. “I don’t see why not.”

Leo opened the case and took out the instrument, turning it over in his hands and holding it up to the light. She heard him let out a long, appreciative breath, and looked up to see him swallow hard. For a moment, his eyes darted around the room, like a man with a poker hand that he knows will win the night. Then he looked back up at Iris, and at the waitress. “My God,” he said. “This is a Stradivarius.”


Rated PG. Contains some bleakness — but mostly fun and games (well, con games).
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« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2009, 01:17:09 PM »

  Another long, slow, plodding , predictable yet utterly charming story. I should review my idea that I do not like this sort of tale, as each time one of these comes up, I say that "I don't normally like this type of story, but I liked this one", so it would seem that I actually do like this type of story.

  Of course I saw the ending coming as soon as Iris agreed to help clean out Mr. Lucky's bank account, but it was still a fun ride getting there. I liked the characters and the reading, and i liked the solid sense of closure the story had.

  So what exactly was Mr. Clinton? He is obviously more than just a mild telepath if he is able to adjust his physical age.
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« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2009, 06:41:15 PM »

I enjoyed this although I can't say why, actually I can, my Great-Grandmother was one of those people who used to fall for things like the bill scam and it was nice to see the con-man getting his comeuppance.

So what exactly was Mr. Clinton? He is obviously more than just a mild telepath if he is able to adjust his physical age.

Personally, I think he's a modern day manifestation of the Trickster Coyote.
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« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2009, 08:12:01 PM »

  Another long, slow, plodding , predictable yet utterly charming story. I should review my idea that I do not like this sort of tale, as each time one of these comes up, I say that "I don't normally like this type of story, but I liked this one", so it would seem that I actually do like this type of story.

  Of course I saw the ending coming as soon as Iris agreed to help clean out Mr. Lucky's bank account, but it was still a fun ride getting there. I liked the characters and the reading, and i liked the solid sense of closure the story had.

  So what exactly was Mr. Clinton? He is obviously more than just a mild telepath if he is able to adjust his physical age.
He also sees into the future, remember?  His "fortunes" held up as Iris' life went on.

I like bluedarkyugi's notion that he's an avatar of Coyote. Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2009, 08:26:27 PM »

I like bluedarkyugi's notion that he's an avatar of Coyote. Smiley

  That makes a lot of sense to me too. I kept thinking along the line of leprechaun for some reason, even though it seemed totally wrong.
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« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2009, 05:21:52 PM »

I kept thinking this story would be a devil tale where the con-man is really trying to corrupt Iris.  I might have liked it better.  As it is, I hate when I'm left hanging at the end.  I like to get the skinny on the truth behind the story, I like completion.  I like a point.  With this I'm left guessing without hope of resolution.

I'm looking forward to a more pointed story, with some action and some more classic fantasy.  This and the last story, while well presented, are somewhat yawners.  I hope we'll hear a little more Howard style of action and mysticism.
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« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2009, 05:32:06 PM »

Another nice piece that is both familiar and well told. The con with the violin has been used in its full version elsewhere recently, although for the life of me I can't remember exactly where. I like the ordinariness of this though, it reminds me a little of Heinlein's "Time Enough for Love" in setting and the feel of the familiar fantastic. For me this was really well read too, the narration was smooth and the characters well defined by the reader. All in all I was just a little disappointed when it finished as I was comfortable and content in my listening. (Nothing to do with wanting to delay getting out of the car into the rain of course  Wink )
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« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2009, 04:33:55 AM »

Another nice piece that is both familiar and well told.

That pretty much summarises my reaction. Nothing exceptional about this story, just good, solid storytelling.
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Heradel
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« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2009, 09:33:00 AM »

Another nice piece that is both familiar and well told. The con with the violin has been used in its full version elsewhere recently, although for the life of me I can't remember exactly where. [...]

American Gods.
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« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2009, 10:43:40 AM »

This was a fun little story. I enjoyed it. I was expecting a lot of the little "suprises" - even that he'd con her a little in the end. I still really enjoyed this story.
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« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2009, 10:44:51 AM »

Predictable yet fun.  Yeah, +1.
The fact that C gave her the $1614.13 was a nice touch.  I felt the story was wrapped up nicely when Iris left the note and the $100 for her kids to find.

Am I the only one who caught the 2 C notes joke?
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« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2009, 12:22:31 PM »

Another nice piece that is both familiar and well told. The con with the violin has been used in its full version elsewhere recently, although for the life of me I can't remember exactly where. [...]

American Gods.

Thank you kindly, means I can stop wracking my brains now  Huh
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« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2009, 08:16:33 PM »

Am I the only one who caught the 2 C notes joke?

Maybe not, but I didn't.  Care to explain, please?  (PM me if you want to keep the rest of the readers in suspense.)

As for the story, I knew "Franklin" was in on it as soon as he offered his expertise on violins.  But I didn't expect the background story of testing people's honesty.  I enjoyed the story, and the reading was excellent, as has already been said.

I kept thinking this story would be a devil tale where the con-man is really trying to corrupt Iris.  I might have liked it better.  As it is, I hate when I'm left hanging at the end.  I like to get the skinny on the truth behind the story, I like completion.  I like a point.  With this I'm left guessing without hope of resolution.

I didn't think about not knowing exactly who or what Franklin/Clinton was by the end, until I read it here.  I'm OK with no specific explanation, but if Naomi Kritzer reads this, maybe she could explain.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2009, 08:18:07 PM by izzardfan » Logged
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« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2009, 01:20:19 PM »

I'm on the "cute story, well told" side of the fence with this one.  I saw where it was headed, but as has been proven so very often, it is not the destination but the journey which is important.

The only thing that bothered me at all, in fact, was that the reader didn't quite have a different enough voice for the two female characters during the first piece of the story, so it was hard to tell whether it was Iris or the waitress who was talking.  Other than that,  it was great.
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« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2009, 08:22:19 PM »

I don't know if it is intentional or not, but a C note is slang for a $100 bill and the note Leo, or whatever his name is, was signed "C", thus, it, too, was a C note.

Or I just pay attention to the wrong things.
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« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2009, 08:40:45 AM »

I enjoyed it. It had a Neil Gaiman feel to it, that melding of the supernatural and the mundane. I was reminded of American Gods, what with these supernatural beings reduced to swindling old ladies to make ends meet. Definitely had some charm to it.
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« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2009, 09:10:32 AM »

I had great fun with this story, in the way it was told and the narration too. Perhaps it was the day I had but it brought some comfort and peace, somehow, when I listened to it before sleep. Liked it enough, in fact, to register here after years of meaning to, in order to leave a comment.

Thumbs up from me!  Cheesy
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« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2009, 09:27:42 AM »

I'm sorry I haven't responded to this yet.  I had a reply all typed out last week and then my browser crashed on me.  I promise I'll come back and answer the questions today, after I've had my coffee.  Smiley 
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« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2009, 11:21:25 AM »

I enjoyed this story very much.  Partly because I always enjoy reading about scams, grifts, cons and cheats (and living in a big city, I occasionally see people trying to pull them off); but that aside, the story was fun and charming. 

I couldn't help wondering about the next chapter, though...


RE: CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS PROPOSAL

DEAR MISS IRIS

MY NAME IS MR. THOMAS OBAMA (THOMAS LIKE THE MOVIE STAR, OBAMA LIKE THE PRESIDENT.)  I MUST SOLICIT YOUR STRICTEST CONFIDENCE IN THIS TRANSACTION...
« Last Edit: February 02, 2009, 11:37:15 AM by Corydon » Logged
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« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2009, 01:00:48 PM »

::lol:: at the confidential business proposal. 

Regarding who Franklin/Clinton really is -- the character might be trying at the end to imply that he's an avatar of Coyote, but I don't know why you'd believe him. Wink  (More seriously: he's intended to be an avatar of a trickster god, and I've been fascinated for a long time with the fact that American folklore is full of trickster heroes.  I wanted to play with that aspect of American mythology, but I didn't do the research I'd have needed to do if I'd really set out to write a story about Coyote or, for that matter, any specific mythological figure.)

I did not intentionally insert the two C-notes joke.  I like it, though.  Cheesy

The Iris in the story is my grandmother; I originally set out to write a story that would make a good 80th birthday gift.  She is incredibly proud of having an author granddaughter but she's not much of an SF/F reader so a lot of my stories leave her kind of baffled.  I thought it would be fun to put her in the story as the protagonist and to give her an adventure that fit in around real events from her life.  Given the constraints I set for myself at the outset, Iris could not ever be truly corrupted; she also had to get a reasonably happy ending. 

I don't normally write about real people (or at least, if I model a character on someone, I don't name it after that person and tell them about it!) so it was a very different experience writing this. 

Neil Gaiman lives roughly in my metro area (Minneapolis -- I live in the actual city, Neil lives in a small town in Wisconsin just beyond the outer suburbs).  I don't know to what extent this is true everywhere, but there are definitely things about our metro area that encourage me to imagine the supernatural blending with everyday life.  (I started giving examples here, but I don't want to go on and on and on....)  I loved "American Gods," but I read it when it first came out and I had completely forgotten that the Fiddle Game con was in it -- I googled for stories about cons that exploit dishonesty, that was how I came up with that part of the story. The con I remember in American Gods was the "night deposit broken, give money to security guard" one, which was fabulous. (Er, to read about, I mean.)

Thanks for listening to my story!
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Zathras
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« Reply #20 on: February 02, 2009, 04:28:57 PM »

I did not intentionally insert the two C-notes joke.  I like it, though.  Cheesy

Shhhh!  Just nod and smile.   Wink

Stay inside, stay warm!  I'm sitting in Coon Rapids today, so I know just how cold it is!  I, however, get to leave here tomorrow night and go to Phoenix, so no sympathy for Zathras!
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« Reply #21 on: February 02, 2009, 09:15:21 PM »

Long time listener (to all escape artists pods), first time poster . . .

Someone already commented about this at podcastle.org, but I too wish to briefly address how comically annoying I found the mispronunciation of Xenia (the town in Ohio where Iris lives at the end of the story).  The wonderful Ann Leckie said "Zen-ee-uh" (3 syllables) when it's actually pronounced "Zeen-yuh" (2 syllables) . . . at no fault of her own however; for if I had not lived both in and around the city of Dayton, I too might be inclined to pronounce it the same as Ann Leckie.  Nevertheless, wonderful reading as always Ann.

Now, I must admit that I was so eager to finally sign up and post in this forum because of this little mishap, but was planning on doing so another day . . . that was until my ipod (set on shuffle mode) directly chose, out of 1,500 files, the song Rundgang Um Die Transzendentale Saule Der Singularitat by black-metal artist Burzum--which for any of you who are not familiar with was a song featured on the soundtrack for the movie Gummo, directed by Harmony Korine, which is (more or less) a not-so-accurate disturbing portrait of Xenia, Ohio and its residents.  And for being someone who reads far too much in rather inane coincidences, I finally decided to join the forums this very evening and comment on this particular story.  But enough jibber-jabber . . .

I for one found this story overall pleasing, but was rather taken aback by the ending, or lack thereof.  It seems to me that the story fell short of its own foreshadowing (if indeed there was supposed to be one), for I was waiting for the enigmatic conman to really pull one over on Iris.  Of course we all probably expected that he was going to con her in some way, but all he really did was punish her for her own sense of dishonesty . . . some punishment: reimbursing her for her own money lost.  Though I suppose one could argue that there exists the implication that the realization of her own dishonesty was in itself the punishment.  However, I was waiting for the conman to reveal a horrible fortune . . . for, as he (under the alias Joe Truman) had stated to Iris: "when a conman tells fortunes, he doesn't usually tell the good parts, he tells the bad in hints of dire fates that can be averted only by copius payments to the piper; but I do not cheat honest men."  Well the conman definately cheated Iris, yet he still revealed to her a good fortune in his note at the very end.  I was expecting the note to reveal a bad fortune which would call into question whether or not Iris could live with her dishonest act or try and avert the bad fortune by playing the conman's game even further. 

Nevertheless, I liked this story for many reasons: 1) I caught a mistake in pronunciation which led to a freaky musical coincidence that amused me for at least an hour at work today; 2) it finally motivated me to join the forums; 3) it was a similar tale told very well; 4) the characters were quite charming; 5) I enjoy stories that play on technique and style (the only time dialogue was shared amongst other characters was at the beginning and at the end of the story . . . makes me wonder if there's a deeper meaning behind this); 6) any story that gets me thinking (let alone criticize) is a good story me.

~peace(s)
« Last Edit: February 02, 2009, 09:18:57 PM by Chadwicked » Logged

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« Reply #22 on: February 09, 2009, 02:18:18 PM »

Let me add late praise for this great little story.  It is also made better by knowing the background (based on Ms. Kritzer's grandmother and all).  Not much to add to what has been said, other than to say more of this type of fantasy is desireable.
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« Reply #23 on: February 11, 2009, 08:52:34 AM »

I only felt the story was too long in the first act because I recognized the violin con from American Gods. (Obviously Gaiman didn't invent it, but that was my first exposure to it.) Having almost been the subject of a con, I identified with Iris, but I didn't really identify with the story. I felt like it had a tendency to meander, to include too many extraneous details.

I recognized Coyote (or his avatar) from the signature.

The reading was fine.
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« Reply #24 on: March 03, 2009, 04:26:16 PM »

What an utterly charming, not-so-little story. I really enjoyed listening to it.
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« Reply #25 on: March 18, 2009, 08:51:08 PM »

It's been a long time since this story aired, but I didn't want to let the opportunity to praise it slip by.  I really liked this story quite a lot.  It may have been, as others say, on the predictable side, but it had me smiling all the way through.  It delivered on what it promised and I really loved loved loved all the grounding details.

It reminds me of "Hotel Astarte" in that it was quite long and didn't get cranked up right off the bat and was deeply American.  I like this type of story and I'm glad Podcastle has run both this and "Hotel Astarte" which is still one of my very favorite PCs.
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« Reply #26 on: April 15, 2009, 02:48:46 PM »

I'm only just catching up with some older PCs, but I wanted to say that I did enjoy this charming piece. The opening threw me off a little, because of the American Gods parallel that others have mentioned, and I was surprised by the episodic structure. By the end I liked it, which is what matters, I guess.
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« Reply #27 on: June 07, 2009, 05:19:37 PM »

Naomi --

Thanks so much for giving the story behind this one.  I loved hearing the story, but it was made even better by your revelation of the story's genesis.
Hmm


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« Reply #28 on: December 30, 2009, 02:38:05 PM »

A lovely story, made even better by the author's explanation about the origins.  Very cool, and I quite liked Iris, so what a nice tribute to your grandma.  Smiley

It was clear in the first scene that that was going to be a con, though I might've been more aware of it because of the cons performed in Zombieland (great movie, btw). 

The pace was a little slow for my usual tastes, but it fit the story, so I'm not really complaining.  The only thing that didn't really resonate with me was the fact that Iris didn't really get conned in the end.  He tells her time and time again that he only cons the dishonest (which is a cool premise) but then when she becomes dishonest he never really cons her, she comes out even in the whole ordeal.  So he didn't really live up to his promise, even though I would've been sad if he'd ripped her off.
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« Reply #29 on: February 25, 2012, 12:39:24 AM »

I don't think it's inconsistent for Coyote to leave Iris unpunished. He conned the dishonest (Mr. Lucky). When Iris developed guilt and decided to track down the other victims to redistribute the ill-gotten gains, she re-established her honesty and removed herself from punishment.

The input from the author in this thread is nice. I might have wound up sharing this story with my mom, but I'll do it for certain after reading that.
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