Author Topic: Pseudopod 236: Dearest Daughter  (Read 8110 times)

Talia

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on: July 02, 2011, 03:22:39 AM
Pseudopod 236: Dearest Daughter

by Kate Marshall

Click the link to visit her blog KATE MARSHALL WRITES.

Read by Grammar Girl. Click her link for some grammar tips…


“When you call me to your room, we both know you’re going to die. Your bones are so frail I think they’ll crack under the weight of the thin cotton sheet; I think your skin will burn under the harsh lights of the hospital room. You push a shoebox toward me with a hand so withered the bones shine through. A letter for every year of my life, you say. You try to smile and your lips crack, bloodless, more like torn paper than broken skin.

“Don’t open them early,” you say, voice weak like it’s forced through cheesecloth. “Don’t read them too soon.”

After the funeral I almost tear them open all at once. I have the first one in my hand, my finger working its way under the flap, but I force myself to put it back, close the box. I wait.”




Music in the promo is “The Gift” by Joe Mieczkowski. See more about Joe here


Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2011, 07:26:51 AM by Talia »



ElectricPaladin

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Reply #1 on: July 02, 2011, 06:29:15 AM
I am the King Under the Mountain and this is the first post on this thread.

Actually, the King Under the Mountain was a little underwhelmed by this story. I can't put my finger one exactly why. Was it predictable? Did the character fail to appeal to me? Did the story fail to fall into that sweet spot of telling me too little and too much? Whatever way, it was a well produced and enjoyable story that didn't make a huge impact. Good and fun and decently horrible, but not great.

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Hafwit

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Reply #2 on: July 03, 2011, 06:19:32 PM
The idea and plot were both solid, but it felt a little like it was just chugging along. The tension didn't really mount, and there was no real sense of immediacy in the horrible things done to, and by, the central character. It was a good story, but it didn't really wow me.

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deflective

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Reply #3 on: July 03, 2011, 07:46:28 PM
i enjoyed it.  the first five or ten minutes made me expect one type of story and then it changed directions on me.  it's fun when that happens.



Thomas

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Reply #4 on: July 04, 2011, 01:49:04 AM
Predictable and yet, not.
The main characters developing paranoia, the ambiguity of as to who wrote the letters, the sense the "they" actually existed and were out to get her, and her need to "protect" her daughter all add up to an interesting listen.
Not your best, but not your worst.
Just enough intrigue to keep me listening.
ok, what's next?

Enjoy and be nice to each other, because "WE" is all we got.


Marguerite

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Reply #5 on: July 05, 2011, 03:38:51 AM
I like how nebulous many of the key elements of this story are.  Who are "they" and why is their lack of scent their key indicator?  What do they want, and why?  How can the mother manage to, like her daughter after her, write these precognitive notes that appear as blank paper when opened before their time?

If this was a prologue, I'd be hooked to read further.

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Unblinking

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Reply #6 on: July 05, 2011, 02:05:41 PM
A neat story with an unreliable narrator. 

1.  It seemed predictable at first, just going on with its premise of a sadistic precognitive mother and her masochistic daughter.  The mother guided her towards each and every bad experience she had.  For instance, on the day when she was told to miss the bus, she met that guy because she was acting oddly at the bus stop due to the letter. In each case, the abusive people in her lives were all linked back toward what the letters advised her to do.  And the daughter had to be masochistic to keep sheepily opening them a tthe assigned dates and following their advice despite the consequences.

2.  Then as the story went on, it seemed more likely that the letters were not at all precognitive, and that she wrote them to herself after the terrible things happened.  I don't konw why, perhaps to feel like she had a mother figure?  Perhaps she had no good reason and is just insane.   This would explain the similar handwriting, and also why the pages were blank (she hasn't written those letters yet).

3.  At the end it seemed to twist again, and it seemed that there was no precognition, nor any intentional forging of the letters, but somehow this woman is trapped in a time loop where she is her own mother.  She writes out new letters to her daughter-self each time, "predicting" her daughter-self's future, but it's really just a reiteration of her own past that will become her daughter's future and she is too insane to realize what she is doing.

In any case, I don't think the non-scented people were anything more than people.  I think she'd been hurt by a few people in the beginning chapters, and rather than believe that human beings could be so cruel, she dehumanized them, giving them that scentless trait that seems so obvious to her but others will disbelieve.  And as time goes on, she starts to assign this attribute to more and more others as she feels more distanced from humanity, and because they're inhuman to her, there is no boundary to killing them.



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Reply #7 on: July 05, 2011, 02:25:09 PM
My one downside on this recording:  It was hard to tell where the letters ended and the daughter's narration began.  Given that most of my interpretations of the story assumed they were the same person, I guess I can understand why, but I think there needed to be some clearer separation between letter and narration.  Either a greeting (which there wasn't always) or some kind of change in voice to make her sound older in the letters.



Marguerite

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Reply #8 on: July 05, 2011, 04:23:47 PM
A neat story with an unreliable narrator.

WOW.  See, this interpretation never occurred to me.  I like it just as much as the one in my head where it's all true and our protagonist is doing her best to survive and thrive in the world-beneath-the-world she lives in.  For me this is one of the truly beautiful things about fiction - completely different reads on the same words.  :-)

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Listener

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Reply #9 on: July 06, 2011, 01:02:37 AM
I liked it. I didn't have problems with the reading. I didn't mind not knowing who "they" are. I do think the story wrapped up a bit too fast, and I would've like to know how the MC's mother (and later, how the MC) learned all this info they'd need to put in the letters, but there you are.

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Sandra M. Odell

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Reply #10 on: July 09, 2011, 08:04:55 AM
I really enjoyed this piece.  The initial switch from present tense to letter threw me for a loop, but after that things flowed smoothly.  I really appreciated the poetry, and the grey areas.  I didn't want to know who "They" were or why the daughter could mark them when they didn't have a scent.  As someone with a painfully acute sense of smell, for her to notice that they don't have any body scent of their own speaks of some of her own abilities/issues.

Then again, there is the possibility that she is an unreliable narrator, which i find very intriguing.  The more I think about it, the less certain I am about which interpretation I prefer.

Very well done, and a solid reading!


Sandra



NoNotRogov

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Reply #11 on: July 11, 2011, 04:18:17 PM
A neat story with an unreliable narrator.

WOW.  See, this interpretation never occurred to me.  I like it just as much as the one in my head where it's all true and our protagonist is doing her best to survive and thrive in the world-beneath-the-world she lives in.  For me this is one of the truly beautiful things about fiction - completely different reads on the same words.  :-)

Speaking of unreliable narrators, the reason why I loved this story so much was that - while for the purposes of me the audience I chose to believe that the events recounted were at least partially true in the continuity of the story, even if at a certain point Them weren't always Them but just the main character being paranoia (such as the Husband perhaps) - I took a thrill in being able to simultaneously complete believe this story as the journey of someone into madness.

I'm no psychologist, but having a traumatic experience and then imagining random people are part of a nameless invisible conspiracy against you seems like the onset of some kind of mental illness; more so than the usual canard of the obviously fantastical element (in this case the precognitive letters) being a delusion.

The fact that the letters could be precognitive, that her mother could be speaking to her from beyond the grave figuratively and giving her literal foresight into her future, and simultaneously should could be an escalating schizophrenic or something gave this story the serrated knife edge that it needed to really get me on the edge of my seat.

So two squamous tentacles up for this story.



Scattercat

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Reply #12 on: July 12, 2011, 07:53:04 AM
This story gets points for maintaining a nearly seamless ambiguity; it is extremely possible that the protagonist is simply delusional and that none of what she imagined actually happened, right down to just "knowing" how her own daughter's life will go.  Many of the events sounded very similar to well-documented symptoms of paranoid delusions, possibly triggered by the trauma she experienced (since that's when the letters went from well-meaning commentary on a hypothetical life to specific warnings of doom.)

Otherwise, I wasn't entirely drawn in.  Sarah Connor without inexplicably Austrian robots.  *shrugs*  It was a fun story, but it wasn't particularly enthralling or memorable for me.  I wouldn't blame anyone who did really enjoy it, though; it just wasn't quite to my taste.



Bdoomed

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Reply #13 on: July 18, 2011, 10:31:21 PM
лучшие сайты с диетами, быстро похудеть диетa бассейн как способ похудеть как похудеть быстро. упражнения, похудеть способы молоко чай турбослим быстро похудеть бесплатный совет как похудеть быстро, как похудеть в области талии быстро? поиск аллен кар легкий способ как похудеть самые современные средства для похудения, как быстро похудеть 4 разовый прием пищи как быстро похудеть на ногах в домашних условиях быстро похудеть без лекарств

Cool story, bro. /banhammer

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bolddeceiver

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Reply #14 on: July 20, 2011, 06:18:16 PM
Yikes, that one gave me the willies even before the unreliable-narrator possibility hit me.  What really floors me is the poor unborn kid: I'm not sure what's worse, a lifetime pursued by the relentless scentless or being raised by a delusional killer and quite possibly discovering this only when the time comes to open the posthumous letters and realizing something going on in dear departed Mom's mind was very, very wrong.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2011, 06:22:45 PM by bolddeceiver »



Unblinking

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Reply #15 on: July 21, 2011, 01:29:15 PM
relentless scentless

Ooh, good naming!



childoftyranny

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Reply #16 on: August 05, 2011, 06:51:24 PM
Certainly kudos for the unreliable narrator telling, that certainly fits but totally didn't occur to me. I think that is partially because the first warning is to miss the bus. Now, she nearly missed the bus and this is course is what led to the man's attention, but if she had just stayed home as the letter suggested they wouldn't have met at all. With the understanding that they are self-written letters it would make sense to warn in the first of transitory letters but that seemed like the only real prophetical letter the rest were responses to events and little clues but have more the feeling of newspaper astrology.

I wonder if perhaps this is responsive magic, if we use that interpretation, perhaps only certain kinds of events can be seen. Since the rest of the letters only make sense once the original mistake has been made, which would be important if they were being written as her life went forth. The blank pages are a big clue but fit into either interpretation.

I very much liked this episode, I think it has just the right amount of blurriness to allow what is really happening to be taken in such different directions.




Fenrix

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Reply #17 on: September 25, 2011, 09:59:48 PM
I like both the "straight" and unreliable interpretations of this story. I'll be thinking about which I like more next time I listen to this one. Definitely goes into the "listen again" stack.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”