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Author Topic: PC161: The Giant Of Malheur Park  (Read 6683 times)
Ocicat
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« on: June 14, 2011, 11:13:24 AM »

PodCastle 161: The Giant Of Malheur Park

by Maria Deira

Read by Anna Schwind


Originally Appeared in Kaleidotrope.

She moved outside, making her way through the yard, blades of wet grass poking at her bare ankles. The air smelled sweet, almost musty. It was early October, cold and breezy, and the night sky was clear. Mrs. Peña could just make out the rough silhouettes of her neighbors as they stood at their windows and in their front lawns, holding candles, watching, waiting. She overheard bits and pieces of their conversations:

“Phones aren’t working.”

“Cars aren’t running.”

“Radios and flashlights won’t even turn on.”

“No electricity anywhere in town.”

“There’s something in the park.”

The park.

Mrs. Peña hurried across the street. As she entered the park, the ground dipped before her and she tripped. She tried to catch herself, but instead she fell against a wall — a moist wall of flesh.


Rated PG.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2011, 11:23:51 AM by Ocicat » Logged
danooli
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« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2011, 06:17:13 PM »

I don't think I get it.  Huh

It started out wonderfully, but as soon as the Giant woke up, I completely lost the story.

I'll tell you one thing, though.  I hope Selena and Fabiola are alright  Cheesy
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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2011, 08:49:37 AM »

Yeah... I didn't get it either, and not in a "wow that was beautiful and strange" way, in a "man, what?" way, and that's not a good thing.

The story was so detailed, giving me so many facts and vignettes about the various inhabitants of the town, but then failing to make them relevant. The details threw me out of fairy-tale space and into real-space, but then the story failed to capitalize on its reality with a confusing surreal ending. But I was in real space and surreality wasn't what I wanted.

The reading, on the other hand, was beautiful and really drew me in. No complaints there.
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Listener
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« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2011, 02:28:53 PM »

The story was so detailed, giving me so many facts and vignettes about the various inhabitants of the town, but then failing to make them relevant. The details threw me out of fairy-tale space and into real-space, but then the story failed to capitalize on its reality with a confusing surreal ending. But I was in real space and surreality wasn't what I wanted.

Yeah. That. It's like those episodes of Family Circus where Billy wants to get from the kitchen to the bathroom and ends up going all over the house and into the yard.



The plot is, as I read it, "a giant appears in the park, and people go to look at it. Two young girls think it's their mother. Then it gets up and goes back to where it came from." In itself, that sounds like a pretty interesting story that you can tell in 2000 words. Then there's all this other stuff about the old lady, the crossdressing teacher, Mrs Wilson, all of that stuff. The only townsperson I really cared about was the one who kept saying BOOOOOOOOM, because he was funny.

The reading sounded like normalization/limiting wasn't used because she spoke at basically the same volume the whole time. While the delivery was enjoyable in places, it felt too forceful in others.
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Mirrie
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« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2011, 07:45:08 AM »

Well you know what they say about not wanting to wake a sleeping giant.
I like this one, but I think it teetered on the brink of suggesting a deeper meaning that was never  clear--to me it felt more like a foreward or preliminary to a larger story. There were several threads to larger plots dropped everywhere, the way the men were disgusted by the giant but the women were drawn to it (except perhaps George, who was suggested to be transgender), the disapearance of Selena and Fabiola's mother, the "battle" that leaves the giant expulsed... I wouldn't worry about the girls Danooli, they ere tough and out of all the people, they seemed the  most strong and aware of their emotions and people around them.
It really worried me how only Fabiola and Selena noticed the boys throwing rocks at the giant and felt it was wrong.
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Scattercat
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« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2011, 11:16:50 AM »

Yeahhhh... uh...

I mean, y'all know me.  I'm always ready to claim genius for a work no one else liked.  I'm always up for a meandering and apparently pointless trip through minutiae with a cherry on top at the end.  But this one...  I dunno.  I don't see how it all fits together.  I don't see what the giant has to do with the neighborhood.  I don't understand why the giant had electric/storm-summoning powers.  I don't get why it looked like their mother to one sister and not to the other, or what that was supposed to mean in the larger context of the interconnected life of the neighborhood and the fact that giant is a being of storms and war.  I can't think of any mythology that fits the details I have, but I don't have enough of the unique details to piece together a complete image of the fantasy world and how or why it intersects with the real world. 

If this were just a short burst of weirdness, I could shrug and say, "Yeah, it was weird.  That's cool," but it wasn't short, and so now I'm left with this wide but shallow pool of characters, each with a little introductory paragraph, and a big inexplicable event that appears to have some sort of personal meaning to one of the characters but then explicitly doesn't (or at least the giant doesn't appear to recognize anything around her and thus is presumably not actually Fabiola's mother.)  I don't know what to do with these bits.  I've got pieces from like three or four different themed Lego sets, and I can put the half a pirate onto the crab legs and give him a part-spaceship-part-medieval-fortress to fly around, but that doesn't help me build any kind of coherent central image.

---

Let me try free association.  I'm just thinking out loud here, writing thoughts verbatim.

Okay, so... giant woman.  Repels men, attracts women.  Largest viewpoint is a brittle-strong older sister with abandonment issues.  Motherhood?  Something about absentee parents?  The hidden struggles of poor mothers whose kids feel abandoned and even abused but who really are just barely protected from even worse things by her unrelenting work out in the larger, scarier world? 

But then we have electrical powers, storms, and that last line about a revolution.  Um.  Maybe Mom is a... a freedom fighter?  Cops seem overall pretty negative, at least from the meta level.  Maybe Mom is battling some kind of authoritarian regime?  Drug lords?  Getting pretty far afield here, and not a lot of motherly concepts.  Is the mother thing a red herring? 

But then why the emphasis on the giant's femininity, the story's overt focus on questions of gender?  We've got older women losing their marbles, mindless aggression from the young males, a transgendered person or at least a transvestite, a creepy policeman hitting on the younger sister... And, biologically speaking, a mother is the one thing a man can never be. 

But the giant doesn't appear very conflicted about her identity, and Fabiola has no crisis related to gender or sexuality, so those threads kind of fizzle. 

Hell, I just don't know.  I tried, y'all.  I've been thinking here for like fifteen minutes trying to sort the story out and find something connecting it all, and I've got nothing.  I don't see the pattern, and I don't know why.
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LaShawn
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« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2011, 11:29:04 AM »

It really worried me how only Fabiola and Selena noticed the boys throwing rocks at the giant and felt it was wrong.

I think it tied in with the larger theme of gender roles: the men being repulsed by the giant woman; the women either abandoning their children or being overly motherly to them (all the sandwiches). Yet not all of it was about gender. I found the part about the old lady interesting--I thought it was weird that the guy would be yelling at her for not deserving anything good, but then the next section revealed that she was responsible for his son getting killed, so that made sense.

Part of me did feel sad for the girls, particularly the older girl, because she wished so hard for the giant woman to be her vanished mother, even when it was obvious she wasn't. And of course, the giant woman doesn't even notice them...

Which leads me to wonder...she wouldn't happen to be riding storm lizards when she fell...would she?  Wink

Edit: Holy crap! I just realized I'm all caught up! YAYYYYYYYYYYY!!!
« Last Edit: June 20, 2011, 11:30:52 AM by LaShawn » Logged

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DKT
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« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2011, 11:46:16 AM »

Which leads me to wonder...she wouldn't happen to be riding storm lizards when she fell...would she?  Wink

One day, someone (possibly me, possibly someone else) is going to write something that ties every single PC episode together!

Edit: Holy crap! I just realized I'm all caught up! YAYYYYYYYYYYY!!!


I noticed this as well. So let me echo your YAYYYYYYYYYYY!!! Grin

ETA: Not to say - heh - that I don't lurve reading the comments of Mssrs. Scattercat, Electric Paladin, Listener, Danooli, because I so very much do! I really love reading everyone's thoughts. It was just - hey - now I can quote LaShawn in feedback again!

*waves also at Mirrie*
« Last Edit: June 20, 2011, 11:55:43 AM by DKT » Logged

danooli
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« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2011, 02:37:52 PM »

I do believe I was just called a Mr.  Cheesy
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DKT
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« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2011, 02:52:42 PM »

I do believe I was just called a Mr.  Cheesy

D'oh! The title for Danooli should've been "B.A.", of course  Wink
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Devoted135
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« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2011, 03:41:28 PM »

Unfortunately, I must say this one left me quite disappointed. It's like we were promised a Gulliver's Travels story and instead we got Six Degrees of Sometownyouneverheardof. For a while it was kind of fun trying to keep track of who was related to whom, and why. But by the time we made it back around to Selena and Fabiola it was clear that all these interesting people were just window dressing.

I guess one of my main problems with the story was that I'm really not sure who the main character is supposed to be. It could be the story of Selena and Fabiola's longing for their long-gone mother, or the story of a small town with too much history, or the story of a giantess who was in the midst of a great battle and got knocked onto a small land-mass for a night - I just want it to choose, and to tell me that story without leaving a number of (extraneous) unfinished trails in the process.
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kibitzer
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« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2011, 10:12:24 PM »

Can I just say, to raise the tone here, on the subject of giant women: DEATH BY SNOO SNOO!
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Loz
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« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2011, 01:29:18 AM »

Well, that was a bit Women on the Verge of an Actual Story. To me it's failing was that so little actually happens. We get a number of vignettes of women's lives but nothing comes of it, they go on no journeys and come to no decisions, if any of them didn't get squished when the giant lady woke up then they could all return to the lives they led before she arrived and continue as if nothing happened. And the giant herself? A mute amnesiac who does nothing more than return to the battle she was briefly thrown out of. So this is no more than an unimportant hiatus for her.

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wekm
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« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2011, 04:32:12 PM »

I too was really thrown out when the story took a 90 degree header into a wall once she woke up.
What irritated me the most was the way all men were repulsed by her, other than the cross dresser. Personally, I would have been amazed and very interested, and I don't wear dresses.
There were a lot of interesting characters, but again, it all went wonky at the end.
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« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2011, 12:27:12 AM »

  I've got pieces from like three or four different themed Lego sets, and I can put the half a pirate onto the crab legs and give him a part-spaceship-part-medieval-fortress to fly around, but that doesn't help me build any kind of coherent central image.

This pretty much sums up my reaction. I spent the rest of the day thinking about giant breasts though.
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2011, 12:39:07 PM »

While I enjoyed the different reactions people - both male and female - had to the Giant, and the backstories, the ending seemed kind of divorced from context. WHO was she fighting? Why? And who among the little people (i.e., us) that we met got squashed at the end? We hear about some but not all the characters.
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« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2011, 11:19:57 PM »

Meh. Like so many who have posted before me have stated: it had so much potential! But like Lost, it tried to do too much and ended up falling way short of everything it could have been. I feel like there is a missing part here, and I'm not sure if it's in the beginning, middle, or end. It's almost like the missing part got cut up and made into unnecessary detail about the villagers. So to some up: meh.
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grokman
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« Reply #17 on: June 24, 2011, 07:50:22 AM »

Add my voice to the chorus of those singing "wha....Huh?" I feel like I was kicked in the head at the end. And not in a GOOD way.
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kibitzer
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« Reply #18 on: June 24, 2011, 07:46:34 PM »

Add my voice to the chorus of those singing "wha....Huh?" I feel like I was kicked in the head at the end. And not in a GOOD way.

There's a good way?
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Palmer
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« Reply #19 on: June 24, 2011, 08:30:40 PM »

Hell yea there is, it's the kick after a story that is so great it makes you question everything, matrix/fight club/6th sense like stuff.
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