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Author Topic: PodCastle Miniature 51: Jaguar Woman  (Read 8513 times)

Heradel

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on: June 25, 2010, 12:40:06 PM
PodCastle Miniature 51: Jaguar Woman

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Read by Anna Schwind

Originally Published in Shimmer

The bearded Spaniard says little to her. He prefers to kiss her and mount her and have her pour his drink for him.

But the priests speak often, furiously. They show her drawings, they explain. The priests have images of martyrs drenched in blood, holding their own heads on a platter, their bodies pierced by arrows.

The priests make her kneel before their blessed Virgin and pray. She has prayed to others before and it is not so difficult to pray to new gods. It is more difficult to have lost her name. Even more difficult to have lost the jaguar shape.

But she does not remember much about those times either. It must have been years ago. She’s been the Spaniard’s mistress for an eternity. It has been like this forever, eating at his table, sleeping in his bed. Although it must not have been forever; she remembers there was a time when she could barely understand him and now his words are clearer although his meaning is the same.

Rated R for Violence, Including Gore

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mbrennan

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Reply #1 on: June 25, 2010, 10:40:22 PM
Mmm -- I liked the story, but I didn't feel the reading was right for it.  I'm having trouble putting this into words, but I kept being aware that I was listening to someone read me a story, rather than listening to the story itself.  The voice was too . . . sharp?  That's about the only word I can find for it.  There were places where the sound relaxed a bit and faded into the text, but only briefly; I kept wanting the rest of the reading to be more like that.



Gia

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Reply #2 on: June 27, 2010, 03:18:04 AM
I got the feeling that I would have liked the larger story, but this just isn't the part of the story that I wanted to hear. I wanted to know more about what happened to her family, how she ended up as that guy's mistress and what happened once she tried to make her escape. The story itself was just her being unhappy and then suddenly remembering how to be a jaguar again. Why did that happen anyway? She was just lying in bed and *poof* she remembered. I don't know how that worked.

The narration really bothered me because the narrator was putting way too much force behind the word and it came off as if she were nearly screaming.



blueeyeddevil

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Reply #3 on: June 28, 2010, 05:35:03 PM
Meh,
anti-colonialist, anti-man revenge fantasy with a bit of pseudo-central american spiritualist woo.
This stuff has been done before, and much better.
Poorly suited voicework as well, too much emphasis where there should have been assonance.

Pretty terrible all around, but at least it was short.

Sorry.



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Reply #4 on: June 28, 2010, 10:00:54 PM
I'd have to agree with the others, here.  The narration was harsh, emphasis was off, and I actually had to get up from my work to turn down the volume on this one.  The sharpness of the narration made it hard to get into the narrative itself, and it was physically painful at times. 

The story also seemed truncated, with the resolution of the main character's dilemma seemingly coming out of nowhere.  I feel there was a lack of context, and though this was a short, I would have liked a little more investigation into the events and characters within.



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Reply #5 on: June 29, 2010, 12:14:25 AM
Interestingly, I took the ending not as "She will take her revenge," but as the sort of hopeless resignation.  She's going to do it "tomorrow."  Not tonight, while she's hopped up and ready.  She's putting it off, leaving it for another day, and she'll be back in her rut soon enough.  It was a very depressing loss of agency, I thought. 

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ElectricPaladin

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Reply #6 on: June 29, 2010, 12:18:31 AM
Interestingly, I took the ending not as "She will take her revenge," but as the sort of hopeless resignation.  She's going to do it "tomorrow."  Not tonight, while she's hopped up and ready.  She's putting it off, leaving it for another day, and she'll be back in her rut soon enough.  It was a very depressing loss of agency, I thought. 

That's my impression as well, which is part of why I ultimately didn't like the story. Nothing happened.

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Unblinking

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Reply #7 on: June 29, 2010, 01:45:58 PM
I find it hard to relate to a character so wrapped up in their self-pity.  The fantasy element seemed more like a metaphor than anything actually fantastic.  I can understand why somebody would like this, but it's not my cup of tea.



EarleyDaysYet

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Reply #8 on: June 30, 2010, 03:19:33 PM
The overall effect of the reading style was me wincing from the earphones, muttering, "why? Why is she shouting?" ??? It's an extremely aggressive style >:( and - while I understand the reader may have felt the subject matter required a certain intensity - is not comfortable to listen to :-\ . I have the same reaction in reverse when a reader says in a monotone, " 'Stop!" he shouted".



Heradel

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Reply #9 on: June 30, 2010, 08:04:55 PM
Hey folks,

It's perfectly fine to criticize a reading, but it's slowly approaching criticizing the reader here. There can be a fairly wide variability in how a given piece of audio will sound on different speakers and through different players, and that could exaggerate how the reading comes across.

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eytanz

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Reply #10 on: June 30, 2010, 09:35:14 PM
I found the ending of this story unsatisfactory in its amibiguity; it was not clear to me whether it was to be taken as a revival of the jaguar, or whether, as scattercat proposed, "tomorrow" will never come. Both options were present and, as far as I could tell, the story did not help decide. This, in my opinion, is an example of unsuccesful ambiguity in that it is not interesting for its own sake and just weakens any emotional impact the story may have.

I also am afraid that I have to agree that the reading style did not suit the story. For me, the problem was actually that it was *too* interesting - I felt myself starting to listen to the cadances of Anna's voice and I stopped listening to what she was actually saying, i.e. the story.



Talia

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Reply #11 on: July 01, 2010, 03:00:03 AM
I thought the reading was great myself. I don't hear what other people are talking about. It worked for me.

Overall I enjoyed the story, though I was slightly unclear on how the Jaguar woman wound up in her situation. I to me the lead up to the end, where she was fantasizing about taking her revenge, was the strongest part, because I really felt the passion, the anger, the strength of the beast she was on the inside showing through. I really felt like I could almost see the beast moving beneath her skin.

I really didn't see the "putting it off" angle. To me it felt like she was on the verge of breaking out of her human prison. Just one more day and she'd shuck off the shackles and then oh yes, how delicious it would be to fillet the bastard like a fish.



ElectricPaladin

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Reply #12 on: July 01, 2010, 03:13:39 AM
anti-colonialist, anti-man revenge fantasy with a bit of pseudo-central american spiritualist woo.

I have to admit that I do like to see colonists get what's coming to them. I mean, most individual colonists are fairly innocent, but the practice of colonialism is pretty abhorrent (in my opinion). I also didn't get how it was particularly anti-man. The Jaguar Woman was a woman, sure, and given the time and the place that the writer wanted to talk about, if she was going to be someone's kept woman it had to be a man. Women didn't have kept women as often.

I'm usually quick to leap to the defense of groups I feel a story is abusing, but I just didn't catch that vibe this time. Sorry.

That's not to say I liked the story, though. As I wrote above, I feel that this story suffered from a serious case of the nothing happeneds. We don't get to really see the consequences of the Jaguar woman's escape. We don't get to see the circumstances of her capture and transformation. I feel like this story is situated in between two (or more) other, much more dynamic stories. Jaguar Woman boiled down to a character study, not a narrative, and just kind of bored me.

And those are my thoughts in more detail.

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2otaku

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Reply #13 on: July 01, 2010, 05:49:32 AM
It's perfectly fine to criticize a reading, but it's slowly approaching criticizing the reader here.

The reader is what makes the audio story what it is, yes?
The cadence of this semed more like slam poetry to me. A softer tone, perhaps.. less trying to protray anger would have worked better even though I found it quite obvious that is what she was attempting to do.

New to Podcastle and my 1st post.. hope I'm not stepping on too many toes.



eytanz

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Reply #14 on: July 01, 2010, 09:41:03 AM
It's perfectly fine to criticize a reading, but it's slowly approaching criticizing the reader here.

The reader is what makes the audio story what it is, yes?

Yes, but it's important to draw the line between criticising the reader's specific choices about how to read the story, and criticising the reader as a person. I have immense respect for Anna, as editor, fellow forumite, and generally as a person (I follow her work off the forums as well). I also happen to think that the style she used in reading this story didn't work for me. Other people may no be as familiar with Anna; but - both forum rules and general human decency - mean that they should be able to express their opinions of the reading without implying anything negative about the person making the reading. There have been people in the past who have very clearly crossed that line, and that is what Heradel is trying to head off here.

In that light, in my (non-moderator) opinion, your own post is entirely appropriate:

Quote
The cadence of this semed more like slam poetry to me. A softer tone, perhaps.. less trying to protray anger would have worked better even though I found it quite obvious that is what she was attempting to do.

New to Podcastle and my 1st post.. hope I'm not stepping on too many toes.

Welcome to the forums! I hope you stick around.



blueeyeddevil

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Reply #15 on: July 02, 2010, 11:28:17 AM
anti-colonialist, anti-man revenge fantasy with a bit of pseudo-central american spiritualist woo.

I have to admit that I do like to see colonists get what's coming to them. I mean, most individual colonists are fairly innocent, but the practice of colonialism is pretty abhorrent (in my opinion). I also didn't get how it was particularly anti-man. The Jaguar Woman was a woman, sure, and given the time and the place that the writer wanted to talk about, if she was going to be someone's kept woman it had to be a man. Women didn't have kept women as often.

I'm usually quick to leap to the defense of groups I feel a story is abusing, but I just didn't catch that vibe this time. Sorry.
I realized when I wrote the post that the "anti-man" bit would be problematic, but I didn't really want to spend the time on it. On reflection, I'd rather clarify my view.
The man in the is story is villianized for being a foreign invader in two senses of the word. One, he is a Spaniard, this has its own obvious issues which would better be discussed in a history course. Two, he doesn't speak with her much, and would rather have sex with her. The language doesn't suggest that he is violent or cruel, to the contrary; he seems to care for her, gives her gifts, and actually seems upset when she freaks out over one of his gifts. Of course, he's a sixteenth or seventeenth century conquistador, he's not going to be winning any awards, by modern standards, for cultural or sexual sensitivity. By her own description of him, for his own time, he was at least far better than the rest of the flock.
In a piece this short, there is going to be a lot of anthropological shorthand. And in this case, it's using what I see as a 'man liking sex=evil' equation to establish the man's guilt. Otherwise, his main crime seems to be being a man in a male-dominated society.
I'm not defending the conquistadors or any other colonial group, but this story makes the complaints of the oppressed sound...well, lame.

I want more to establish the evil of this character than, 'he wants me and he's not from here.'
« Last Edit: July 02, 2010, 11:29:48 AM by blueeyeddevil »



ElectricPaladin

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Reply #16 on: July 02, 2010, 11:37:24 AM
I want more to establish the evil of this character than, 'he wants me and he's not from here.'

What I thought was interesting is that the man wasn't evil. A bit controlling, a bit of an invasive jerk, but not really evil. The fact that bad things were going to happen to him even though he was only slightly evil added to the tension.

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Scattercat

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Reply #17 on: July 02, 2010, 09:27:09 PM
Indeed; I interpreted the man as a slightly sympathetic figure.  I think he's supposed to sound rather nice.  I don't think we're supposed to feel joy at his impending (hypothetical) demise; his crimes are of ignorance rather than malice, and the Jaguar Woman herself, of course, never exerts herself to correct him or approach him as another person.  I read the whole story as a cautionary tale for women, really, to not just be passive and accept things as just being the way they are and yourself as powerless and without the ability to change.  (But then, I saw her violent bid for freedom as likely endlessly deferred, as she continued to sink into quiet despair.) 

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Anarkey

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Reply #18 on: July 05, 2010, 02:24:08 AM
I apologize to anyone and everyone for whom my reading of "Jaguar Woman" didn't work, most especially to the author.

Fortunately for you all, it has not been, nor will it be in future, my intention to read much of anything.  This was basically a one off, though I don't promise to never read anything ever again because - well, sometimes our choices are limited, and the episodes have to keep coming out, whether our readers turn their narrations in or not.  However, overall you may rest easy because most of our readers kick ass AND meet deadline.  This is also, fwiw, my first time recording anything in this way, and doubtless my inexperience shows, especially compared to the usual caliber of excellent readers and voice actors we generally have.   

I figured anything is bearable for five minutes.  Alas, I was wrong.

Live and learn, as they say.  Live and learn.  I hope you'll all accept my apologies and keep listening. New story with a different reader next week!  Promise!

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eytanz

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Reply #19 on: July 05, 2010, 12:40:57 PM
Oh, while I think the reading was a bit distracting it was far from unbearable. In fact, I've actually listened to it again just because I enjoyed the performance a lot. It just wasn't ideal to actually following the story.