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Author Topic: Pseudopod 148: Graffiti  (Read 6534 times)

Bdoomed

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on: June 26, 2009, 11:20:55 PM
Pseudopod 148: Graffiti

By K.S. Dearsley
Read by Claudia Smith

It was exactly what Marian was looking for–a home of her own, an address to prove she existed. She looked around feeling someone behind her. Gareth entered the lounge carrying a packing case. He spoke over the top of it.

“It’s a bit of a mess.”

The previous tenants had left stained carpets, chipped paintwork and crayon on the walls.

“Nothing that soapy water and a paintbrush can’t fix.”



Listen to this week's Pseudopod.

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Zathras

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Reply #1 on: June 26, 2009, 11:42:41 PM
Girl has intimacy issues, has split personalities, drives boyfriend away.



Sgarre1

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Reply #2 on: July 01, 2009, 04:04:03 AM
I thought this one was interesting, if a little underdeveloped.  It resonated with two horror classics: Perkins-Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" (mentally ill women projecting her identity problems onto the walls around her) and a pivotal scene in Jackson's THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE ("HELP ELEANOR COME HOME", natch).  What I liked was that the story didn't proceed in an expected direction - what I mean is that the protagonist's boyfriend was not some domineering thug who was trying to crush her identity (which would have made the point a little too "on the nose") or even unconsciously grinding her identity away due to adhering to older stereoitypes of male/female relations (less "on the nose" but still a bit textbook).  Instead, as he really seems to care about her and wants her to recover from her pre-story "problems", we're left wondering if this is all mental illness or  wrong place/wrong time coincidence involving a supernatural manifestation, or what...which I actually kinda liked.  Still, I thought the reading on the very end of the story could have punched that last line - was it (paraphrasing from memory) "...her name began to form" or "a name began to form"?  Interesting story.

Thanks for listening.

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eytanz

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Reply #3 on: July 07, 2009, 07:21:51 AM
I'm pretty sure it was "a name".

This story felt shabby to me. It had the right overall form, and it was clear what it was trying to do, but it felt like it was badly assembled. Partially it was because, it had an ambiguous ending - was this supernatural? was she simply crazy? - but neither of the endings actually worked. It felt like the author was not trying to be ambiguous, but that he was actually unsure himself so he tried to cover his bases. That's probably entirely unfair, but that was the feeling the story gave me.



Sgarre1

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Reply #4 on: July 07, 2009, 01:22:08 PM
Interesting, then, because if it was "a name" and not "her name", then the final manifestation is a different than any in the story previous (it was always her name before), which leans towards the "supernatural" rather than "psychological" interpretation (but not fully)...and seems creepier.



thomasowenm

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Reply #5 on: July 28, 2009, 09:49:18 PM
I liked the idea of the story, but the boyfriend felt like a plot device rather than a real person.  He dated her knowing she had emotional troubles, and at the first sign he bolts.  He was only there to provide a, "who really did it?".  He lent her no support as a caring boyfriend who knows of her condition.  I feel this could have been more powerful without him and just had us wonder if she did it or was it supernatural. 

I'll give it a B-, not great but not awful either.



DKT

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Reply #6 on: July 29, 2009, 03:53:01 PM
I remember it saying "a name began to form" but I took it to imply that the name taking form was hers.


Sgarre1

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Reply #7 on: July 29, 2009, 04:48:51 PM
I don't know - maybe I'm just overreading here (or assuming the writer was being this careful with language when they weren't, but I like to give benefit of the doubt) but I felt the articles do carry weight.  We already know, as this is the end of the story, that her name is the only thing being repeatedly written - so "her" or "the" name would click would play off that knowledge.

If it's "a" name, though, that seems to imply a change (the "a" working against our received knowledge that the name is always the same), a variant from previous.  Eh, I could just be reading too much into it...



Ben Phillips

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Reply #8 on: July 30, 2009, 04:34:09 AM
Nah, the article is "a", and I'm pretty sure it is meant to be deliberately ambiguous like the rest of the story.  There are lots of stories with crazy unreliable narrators, but I liked this one specifically because it drives *us* crazy trying to figure out to what extent *she* is.



Unblinking

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Reply #9 on: August 19, 2009, 08:11:18 PM
This one was alright, but it just seemed like well-trodden ground.  It also just got really repetitive, because every time she slept I expected the names to appear again, and they did.  The ending was weak, I read it to mean that her name was appearing again and so the ending was a fizzle for me.



stePH

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Reply #10 on: August 21, 2009, 02:12:18 PM
This whole story was lost on me.  Didn't get the point.  Unless it's as Zorag said:
Quote
Girl has intimacy issues, has split personalities, drives boyfriend away.

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umamei

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Reply #11 on: August 22, 2009, 03:31:55 AM
I find stories of people who've successfully had mind games played on them to be truly horrifying, and this story had the potential to be that.  It almost succeeded at horrifying.  Not a bad story, but just not something I'd get all excited about.  A solid "meh +" on a scale of "Wow!" to "Really?" where "meh" falls somewhere in-between.

As a linguist, I'm on the side of articles being VERY important.  There's nothing ambiguous about that shift from "the" to "a" at all.  Even still, I found the ending to be what didn't really do it for me.  Oh well.



Russell Nash

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Reply #12 on: August 25, 2009, 12:17:06 PM
Playing off of a little that was said before, I could see a really great story coming out of this if it was the boyfriend trying to make the unstable girlfriend crack.  Once she's convinced she's doing it, he could leave messages in addition to the names. 



El Sabor Asiático

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Reply #13 on: September 08, 2009, 12:03:30 AM
This is one of those stories where there would effectively BE no story if the characters at any point sat down and had an actual conversation that resembled conversations people actually have. This is how it would have gone down if this story had happened to my wife and I:

ME: WTF, there's writing on the wall.

WIFE: Weird, I didn't do that.

ME: Me either.

WIFE: Whoa, I just cleaned it off and it reappeared!

ME: HOLY CRAP

WIFE: WTF

THE END



umamei

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Reply #14 on: September 08, 2009, 01:05:34 AM
This is one of those stories where there would effectively BE no story if the characters at any point sat down and had an actual conversation that resembled conversations people actually have. This is how it would have gone down if this story had happened to my wife and I:

ME: WTF, there's writing on the wall.

WIFE: Weird, I didn't do that.

ME: Me either.

WIFE: Whoa, I just cleaned it off and it reappeared!

ME: HOLY CRAP

WIFE: WTF

THE END

LOL!  Too true.



Russell Nash

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Reply #15 on: September 08, 2009, 07:12:19 AM
This is one of those stories where there would effectively BE no story if the characters at any point sat down and had an actual conversation that resembled conversations people actually have. This is how it would have gone down if this story had happened to my wife and I:

ME: WTF, there's writing on the wall.

WIFE: Weird, I didn't do that.

ME: Me either.

WIFE: Whoa, I just cleaned it off and it reappeared!


You: DOn't give me that bullshit.  I didn't do it so you must have done it.

Wife: I didn't do it.

You: This isn't a f***ing horror movie, so it had to be one of us.

Wife: Then why did you do it?

You: I didn't do it, you b***h.  (You pick up knife and kill wife.)



Scattercat

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Reply #16 on: September 08, 2009, 07:16:25 AM
And now it's a horror movie, albeit a rather surreal one.

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JoeFitz

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Reply #17 on: September 14, 2009, 11:01:30 PM
Playing off of a little that was said before, I could see a really great story coming out of this if it was the boyfriend trying to make the unstable girlfriend crack.  Once she's convinced she's doing it, he could leave messages in addition to the names. 

And, once again, the forum improves/revises/re-writes a story (for me)! Take this story and edit a little bit, and you've got the new plot. Just don't "twist it" in the third act but build up to it and you've got a much better story. I think I might actually listen to this one again and try to make that new plot work.




Millenium_King

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Reply #18 on: June 10, 2010, 10:03:57 PM
I liked this one, but was disappointed with a few of the scenes which came across as a little vague.  For example, the scene at the end where she is uncrumpling the paper - where the heck is she?  Outside?  Having a flashback?  I listened to that part again and again, but simply couldn't make sense of it.  There was another, earlier bit like that too - but I can't remember it.

Beyond that, I thought this was a pretty effective story.  I can't help but wonder if it would have been better if told in the 1st person (although, the author may have tried that already).  The unreliable narration might have come across better.

I found myself comparing this one to "The Yellow Wallpaper" - which is a very similarly themed story of a woman going mad and obsessing over the walls.  It's extremely good and it's sense of claustrophobia and confinement make me squirm each time.

Fantastic narration.  I love Claudia - she has an excellent voice and was a superb choice for a "feminine" piece like this one (I don't mean anything by that except that it was very female focussed and posessed a strong, female voice - and all of it extremely well done).

I also loved Al's outro.  In the end we're all just words in sand.  When the wind picks up, we're no more.  But how lovely the words are while they're there.

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