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Author Topic: PC209: Lila the Werewolf  (Read 3214 times)
Talia
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« on: May 22, 2012, 08:37:28 AM »

PodCastle 209: Lila the Werewolf

by Peter S. Beagle

Read by Steve Anderson

Originally published as a stand alone chapbook.

Farrell went to a movie with a friend, and to the West End afterward for beer. Then he walked home alone under the full moon, which was red and yellow. He reheated the morning coffee, played a record, read through a week-old “News of the Week in Review” section of the Sunday Times, and finally took Grunewald up to the roof for the night, as he always did. The dog had been accustomed to sleep in the same bed with his mistress, and the point was not negotiable. Grunewald mooed and scrabbled and butted all the way, but Farrell pushed him out among the looming chimneys and ventilators and slammed the door. Then he came back downstairs and went to bed.

He slept very badly. Grunewald’s baying woke him twice; and there was something else that brought him half out of bed, thirsty and lonely, with his sinuses full and the night swaying like a curtain as the figures of his dream scurried offstage. Grunewald seemed to have gone off the air — perhaps it was the silence that had awakened him. Whatever the reason, he never really got back to sleep.

He was lying on his back, watching a chair with his clothes on it becoming a chair again, when the wolf came in through the open window. It landed lightly in the middle of the room and stood there for a moment, breathing quickly, with its ears back. There was blood on the wolf’s teeth and tongue, and blood on its chest.

Farrell, whose true gift was for acceptance, especially in the morning, accepted the idea that there was a wolf in his bedroom and lay quite still, closing his eyes as the grim, black-lipped head swung towards him. Having once worked at a zoo, he was able to recognize the beast as a Central European subspecies: smaller and lighter-boned than the northern timber wolf variety, lacking the thick, ruffy mane at the shoulders and having a more pointed nose and ears. His own pedantry always delighted him, even at the worst moments.


Rated R: Contains some violence, some sex, and some adult language. Basically, everything synonymous with werewolves.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: June 12, 2012, 11:10:37 AM by Talia » Logged
Sgarre1
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« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2012, 06:34:43 PM »

Congrats on snagging this!  I read this when I was 11 or so!
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kibitzer
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« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2012, 09:56:57 PM »

I read this just recently, on a whim. Cracking story; looking forward to listening.
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Listener
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« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2012, 09:04:09 AM »

Am I the king under the mountain if I'm the first person to actually comment on the story? What's the protocol on that?

Anyway -- once I readjusted my brain to 1970s-era NYC and 1970s-era values, I found myself enjoying the story. I can see how parts of it will tick off certain readers because of its attitudes toward women, but that doesn't stop it from being good. I mean, Conan is still iconic despite his non-heroic actions, right?

I felt like I got a real feel for 1970s-era NYC -- since I wasn't alive for 80% of it, and the 20% I was I spent in Florida, not New York -- and that's a testament to Beagle's writing and how it resonated with other media from the era that I've consumed over time.

I'm not quite sure how Farrell's ability to "replay" his dreams really helped the story in any way, especially during the chase sequence. It was more distracting than anything else -- like, is this really a dream? Is he a werewolf now and no one knows it? (Clearly he wasn't, because he talked to people and was treated like a human, not a wolf or dog.) I would've preferred that part to be played straight.

Overall, a pretty good episode.
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BlueLu
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« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2012, 08:24:24 PM »


I'm not quite sure how Farrell's ability to "replay" his dreams really helped the story in any way, especially during the chase sequence. It was more distracting than anything else -- like, is this really a dream? Is he a werewolf now and no one knows it? (Clearly he wasn't, because he talked to people and was treated like a human, not a wolf or dog.) I would've preferred that part to be played straight.


I completely agree with you about the dream sequence.  The switch to the conditional tense really drew me out of the story.  I suspect that Beagle was so jazzed by the sections about the superintendent and his surreal subterranean world--which admittedly were very cool--that he left in parts of the story that really didn't fit.

Liked the story in general, though.  I especially liked the deadpan acceptance of the narrator at the beginning of the story. 
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Lena
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« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2012, 11:34:12 AM »

I liked the style of the chase scene myself.  It made it very clear that not only did he experience this, he would relive it in his dreams every night over and over again for the rest of his life. 

I didn't care for hearing about the dogs being slaughtered one after the other.  I don't fault the author for it, because I never felt like Lila or the dogs acted outside of their character.  But I didn't really enjoy reading it, in great part because I have three tiny canines as members of my family.  I am aware of what easy prey they would make for a wolf, and some coyotes do live in our area so I do watch them carefully so they don't become a light snack for such an animal.

In general, I didn't find the story all that compelling, the fashion used for telling the chase being one of the better parts.  One thing that I thought made it feel more unique was one small thing that could easily have been lost in the mass of words:  he noted that when Lila changes to wolf, as she's just on the verge she has a feeling of relief at "not being Lila anymore"--that was very interesting and seemed very in character for how she was described.  I've known some people who are always trying to reinvent themselves and sometimes it seems like they just hate the way they are so much, but as the quote goes "Wherever you go, there you are."  You can change everything about your life, but you can't get away from yourself.  Except that Lila can.  Once a month.  In uncontrolled fashion.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2012, 03:16:39 PM »

Overall, I enjoyed this story quite a bit. It's interesting to observe how come attitudes have changed and some stayed relatively the same over time. For example, Lila's portrayal felt very dated and to some extent misogynistic; at the same time there are moments when Farrell takes a moment to note how "accepting" he is. And I had to laugh every time Lila's psychiatrist and his inability to "help" Lila came up. Cheesy


I liked the style of the chase scene myself.  It made it very clear that not only did he experience this, he would relive it in his dreams every night over and over again for the rest of his life.

This explanation helps me to appreciate the chase scene in retrospect, but at the time of listening the dream-like style made it very difficult for me to follow what was going on.
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dogpurse
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« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2012, 01:21:39 AM »

I'm new to this so.. whatever.. but no episode has ever made me SOB and then mid-tears go *Wait. What!*
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childoftyranny
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« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2012, 03:00:33 PM »

The reading was crack on, the story was, a bit on par for werewolf stories. Most werewolf stories, of course, are about losing control, this one focuses more on the effects it has on the other people nearby that the werewolf which is more unique but was fairly bland in that respect. The author noted that he wouldn't write this as much of a straight forward puberty allegory in the future and it would very interesting to see a similar story told from a more experienced mind.

Normally I find violence against animals kind of distasteful in stories, but in this case it came across as sort of ridiculous to have a horde of dogs all running, hornily, towards their doom, as if they were some sort of love lemming (who do not run off cliffs) or as if she were some sort of canine Poison Ivy. It might have been meant seriously but I ended up just finding it faux-humorous once it moved beyond the pack whose bones were being revealed through bites. Absurd is the word.

Beyond that I found the idea of a skill of "acceptance" as kind of ingenious and would make a very interesting, if akward, superpower. Being able to immediately grasp and accept any situation, even if you have no clue what to do about it.
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LaShawn
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« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2012, 03:24:13 PM »

Wonderful story. I did find the character to be wishy washy and a typical whiner. And I feel awful for saying this, but I found the horde of tiny dogs going to their doom hilarious. But then again, I find the existence of tiny dogs in general to be hilarious.
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Umbrageofsnow
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« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2012, 01:35:32 PM »

I didn't realize how much this story had stuck with me until I caught myself saying about my girlfriend's mother: "now she's the real werewolf..."
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MDS
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« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2012, 02:07:42 PM »

Great story! Glad we got the author's caveat that he wouldn't write this story today.
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lisavilisa
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« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2012, 06:17:00 PM »

Great story! Glad we got the author's caveat that he wouldn't write this story today.

Agreed, it's refreshing for an author to recognize how their work could be received in present day.
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