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Author Topic: PC214: We Never Talk About My Brother  (Read 5053 times)
Ocicat
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« on: June 26, 2012, 11:51:52 PM »

PodCastle 214: We Never Talk About My Brother

by Peter S. Beagle.

Read by Malcolm Charles.

Originally appeared in Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, July 2007.


But back then, back then, Esau was just a little way south of a movie star. Couldn’t walk down the street, go out grocery shopping, he’d get jumped by a whole mob of his fans, his groupies. Couldn’t turn on the TV and not see him on half a dozen channels, broadcasting, or being interviewed, or being a special guest on some show or other. I mean everything from big political stuff to cooking shows, for heaven’s sake. My friend Buddy Andreason, we go fishing weekends, us and Kirby Rich, Buddy used to always tease me about it. Point to those little girls on the news, screaming and running after Esau for autographs, and he’d say, “Man, you could get yourself some of that so easy! Just tell them you’re his brother, you’ll introduce them — man, they’d be all over you! All over you!”

No, it’s not a nickname, that was real. Esau Robbins. Right out of the Bible, the Old Testament, the guy who sold his birthright to his brother for a mess of pottage. Pottage is like soup or stew, something like that. Our Papa was a big Bible reader, and there was…I don’t know, there was stuff that was funny to him that wasn’t real funny to anyone else. Like naming me and Esau like he did.

A lot easier to live with Jacob than a funny name like Esau, I guess — you know, when you’re a kid. But I wasn’t all that crazy about my name either, tell you the truth, which is why I went with Jake first time anybody ever called me that in school, never looked back. I mean, you think about it now. The Bible Esau’s the hunter, the fisherman, the outdoor guy — okay, maybe not the brightest fellow, not the most mannerly, maybe he cusses too much and spits his tobacco where he shouldn’t, but still. And Jacob’s the sneaky one, you know? Esau’s come home beat and hungry and thirsty, and Jacob tricks him — face it, Jacob tricks him right out of his inheritance, his whole future, and their mama helps him do it, and God thinks that’s righteous, a righteous act. Makes you wonder about some things, don’t it?


Rated PG

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: July 18, 2012, 07:32:14 AM by Talia » Logged
Kaa
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« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2012, 09:05:56 AM »

This was simply awesome. I enjoyed it from the first sentence all the way through the last. So well done. And I thought Malcolm Charles did a great job with the reading.

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augustleo
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« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2012, 08:02:40 AM »

Great voice over. Really pulled me into the story. I liked the overall idea...but the story dragged on too long for me.
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« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2012, 08:44:15 AM »

I really enjoyed this story.  The narrator did a stellar job, at no point during listening did I think he sounded like anyone but Jacob.

I'm actually surprised that I didn't think this one was too long.  Looking back, comparing the premise and the plot, it doesn't seem like it ought to take 2.5 commutes to listen to.  But I never felt like it was too slow.  This is the way Jacob talks.  He has a story to tell and he doesn't intend to be rushed through it. I liked how it began with a discussion of their names which didn't seem all that important but was illuminating to the setting and character, and then as the story went on that beginning segment became more and more important in retrospect.  I like how the brothers were like embodiments of an ancient battle between good and evil, and I find the idea of a news anchor who makes up stories and MAKES THEM BE TRUE is absolutely terrifying.

A good story all around.  I don't always like every story that Beagle writes, but all of them are written well and when he writes a story I like it is REALLY good.
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« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2012, 12:29:37 PM »

Thinking about this more, I get more freaked out a the possibilities if this ability were a thing in the hands of certain media spokespeople.  Nancy Grace would be bad enough, but Jack van Impe would be so much worse.
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« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2012, 12:45:27 PM »

Thinking about this more, I get more freaked out a the possibilities if this ability were a thing in the hands of certain media spokespeople.  Nancy Grace would be bad enough, but Jack van Impe would be so much worse.

To interpret "media" rather loosely, add Glenn Beck to that mix. Can you imagine the world that nutball would create? *shudder*
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jenfullmoon
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« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2012, 11:02:34 AM »

Very compelling, though yeah, it does feel long. (I got interrupted halfway through, that may be why.) Loved the use of the character's names and birthrights and how it all worked.
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« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2012, 08:08:53 AM »

This also took about 2.5 commutes for me, and I have to say, I didn't think it was too long at all.  I loved every second of it.  The story was compelling and the reading was exquisite.  The ability that Esau and Jacob possessed was a new spin for me.  I don't know for sure if it's an original idea, but it is for me, so, that has me fascinated, and yes, frankly freaked out a bit.  Loved it.
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epodcaster
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« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2012, 08:52:12 AM »

I have listened to EscapePod and PodCastle for years. However, this is the first time I felt compelled to comment. I was blown away by this seemingly slow moving story. I really enjoyed the accent, tone and pace of the reading done by Malcolm Charles. It fit the story perfectly. The zinger at the end where Jacob tells the reporter what happened to Esau and what the reporter will not remember was the part where my eyes got big. Love the fact he gave the reporter a bonus. Jacob certainly was the "good angel".
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Devoted135
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« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2012, 09:07:42 AM »

I really loved this story! Usually it's difficult to maintain a consistent voice when relating a narrative of past events, but I felt like Jacob was a fully-formed person from start to finish. And Malcolm Charles did a fantastic job with the narration, and keeping the accent consistent throughout!

I liked how there were hints and references throughout the story about how no one talks about Esau, or how people don't really remember him. It made me wonder why Jacob would break his silence now after all of this time, and I did not see the twist at the end coming. A definite "ooohhhhh!" moment for me. Smiley
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Fenrix
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« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2012, 05:35:25 PM »

I think you stole this from PseudoPod. Jerks.

I'm not accepting that there's a happy ending. There's a whole lot of awful to roll around in with this one.
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« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2012, 11:49:55 PM »

I really enjoyed this story when I read it a few years ago, but, man, did the audio really make this story shine! Splendid job, Malcolm! Using Eusa's own power against him was a part I forgot.  The part that really hit me was when Jake first confronted him on the roof: "Tell that to Donny Schmidt." Then this exchange was essentially repeated at the end.  Good stuff!

And by the way, if given the chance, I would be a nice god.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2012, 09:04:00 AM by Swamp » Logged

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TheFunkeyGibbon
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« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2012, 05:09:23 AM »

This was one of the very best stories I have heard on Podcastle. The narrative was well paced and spooled out the story in a beautiful arc. The character of Jake was consistent in tone and behaviour and the twist at the end was a lovely bow on top of a beautiful present.  Smiley

And there was the reading.... Wow. Just loved it. A Southern accent performed poorly can be grating and ruin a story but Malcom Charles nails this and I was totally taken in by his reading. I wasn't thinking "This is a reading of a story" I was just listening to Jake. That's a sign of a killer reading.
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eytanz
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« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2012, 04:33:12 PM »

I've loved this story from the first time I read it a few years back, and I loved it even more now hearing it read aloud. The narration was absolutely perfect for the story, and it really complemented the excellent story.

By the way, I really recommend Beagle's short story collection of the same name; every story in that volume is excellent.
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« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2012, 10:20:11 AM »

I'm really glad that you did this story so quickly after Lila the Werewolf. That story put me off the author and this redeemed him.
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2012, 05:30:58 PM »

I find myself surprisingly on the fence over this one.

I liked the narration and the blunt nature of the narrator when dealing with his brother.

I am, however, uncomfortable with the idea that newspeople somehow "make" the news, or that they make it miserable. I'm not talking about anybody's political spin on stories, I'm all sure all of us can find examples of one "side" or the other making egregious use of non-factual "facts", ad hominum attacks, straw-man arguments and all sorts of bad rhetorical devices.

No, I mean the idea that our evil Esau here was causing plane crashes and natural disasters by wanting them to happen. Apart from not seeing how that would make him think himself a "good God", I find it hard to believe most of the shallow anchor-droids today think of it that much, because they don't seem to think of anything much at all. And even they would be the first to tell you that good news is no news. We tell each other we look forward to nothing bad being on the news, but the next thing we would do is to stop watching.

Now, I could be missing the point here, which may simply be that Esau craved attention, and this was the easiest way to get it. But I'm not sure.
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Fenrix
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« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2012, 06:39:28 PM »

No, I mean the idea that our evil Esau here was causing plane crashes and natural disasters by wanting them to happen. Apart from not seeing how that would make him think himself a "good God", I find it hard to believe most of the shallow anchor-droids today think of it that much, because they don't seem to think of anything much at all. And even they would be the first to tell you that good news is no news. We tell each other we look forward to nothing bad being on the news, but the next thing we would do is to stop watching.

It's a similar albeit twisted in a different way of the motivation for Mr. Glass in Unbreakable. If it bleeds, it leads, and his stories were the bloodiest, making him the leader of the pack.
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eytanz
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« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2012, 12:20:50 PM »

No, I mean the idea that our evil Esau here was causing plane crashes and natural disasters by wanting them to happen. Apart from not seeing how that would make him think himself a "good God",

I think by the time he was a newsreader causing disasters, he had long given up on wanting to be good. I viewed the encounter on the roof as him showing that he was trying to convince himself that he could use his powers for good. Note that he was not saying he'd refrain from using his powers; he wanted to be a god, just a good one. Jacob pointed out to him that he had already committed evil. But I think one question this story raises was whether Esau was savable at that point - whether if Jacob had not simply flat out rejected him but tried to actually offer him some guidance and support, then things would have come out differently.

By the time Esau grows up, he has no longer any desire to be good. He has a power, and he will exploit it to his favor.

Quote
Now, I could be missing the point here, which may simply be that Esau craved attention, and this was the easiest way to get it. But I'm not sure.

Esau was a kid that was bullied by his peers and first ignored then rejected by his family. His siblings stopped him being beat up but they didn't actually pay attention to him. I think it's quite likely he wanted positive attention, but it was always a short term thrill, because he despised and looked down on humanity, so no-one could really satisfy him. I think the reason that, during the beginning of the confrontation at the end, the thing that first got his attention was Jacob's assertion that there are others like him out there. I think he was hoping to find people who he could actually connect to.

This is contrasted by Jacob who never really wanted anything he didn't have, so he never used his powers.

One thing I really love about this story is how, even though it's told from Jacob's perspective, it doesn't let him off the hook very easily. Jacob had the ability to help people all along but chose to not use it. He had the ability to be a better brother and maybe stop Esau from becoming a monster, but he didn't. Even though he knew Esau killed the bully, he put that aside. When Esau came to him and said he wanted to be a good god, he could have encouraged Esau, rather than rejected him outright. He maybe could have figured out his own power at some point and right Esau's wrongs, back when they were still small enough to be righted. It's not that he couldn't, he just never cared to do that until Esau showed up at his doorstep again and annoyed him.

None of this excuses Esau's actions, of course. But I don't think this story is a clear cut confrontation of good versus evil.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2012, 12:22:36 PM by eytanz » Logged
Fenrix
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« Reply #18 on: July 10, 2012, 11:14:57 PM »

One thing I really love about this story is how, even though it's told from Jacob's perspective, it doesn't let him off the hook very easily. Jacob had the ability to help people all along but chose to not use it. He had the ability to be a better brother and maybe stop Esau from becoming a monster, but he didn't. Even though he knew Esau killed the bully, he put that aside. When Esau came to him and said he wanted to be a good god, he could have encouraged Esau, rather than rejected him outright. He maybe could have figured out his own power at some point and right Esau's wrongs, back when they were still small enough to be righted. It's not that he couldn't, he just never cared to do that until Esau showed up at his doorstep again and annoyed him.

None of this excuses Esau's actions, of course. But I don't think this story is a clear cut confrontation of good versus evil.

Eytanz, I think you summed up everything better than I could as to why this one would have worked well over at PseudoPod.
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ThomasTheAttoney
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« Reply #19 on: July 11, 2012, 11:39:26 AM »

Great story.  Good narration.  Interesting idea.  The very gifted but whole lead simple lives.  The partly gifted but very broken go on to greatness. 
As to controlling the news, unblinking said "Nancy Grace would be bad enough," but wait, she did harass that one unstable woman into suicide, so kinda true.

I agree with the comment that the names discussion went on too long.  Trim that down to one sentence in the beginning and a one sentence call back and you have award winning caliber.  The call back that even if he was evil, he was still his little brother who he was going to take care of no matter what was a good explanation of why he didn't disappear him.

Thank you writer Peter Beagle and narrator Malcolm Charles.
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