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Author Topic: PC248: Bleaker Collegiate Presents an All-Female Production of Waiting for Godot  (Read 4253 times)
Talia
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« on: February 20, 2013, 08:27:07 AM »

PodCastle 248: Bleaker Collegiate Presents an All-Female Production of Waiting for Godot

by Claire Humphrey

Read by Tatiana Gomberg

Originally published in Strange Horizons. Read the story here!

Making friends with Ginevra was like taming a stray cat. First I started hanging around in areas where she might be found. If she showed, I didn’t approach her. I just stood there, smoking, or I read something, glancing at her secretly from behind my hair. Then I started catching her eye once in a while. Then I started smiling.

Then I started dating Christopher Potter; I dumped him after a few weeks, but that got me introduced to Pete Janaczek, which got me the invite to Pete’s party, which got me in the same room as Ginevra while she was tipsy and expansive, and then-finally-it happened.

All that was a lie, you know. As if I could plan anything like that. It’s only in hindsight that I realize why I started spending time in the smoke-hole in the first place. So many of the things we do, we keep from ourselves.


Rated PG.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: March 14, 2013, 02:05:10 PM by Talia » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2013, 08:50:27 AM »

I... am not sure what happened here. I'm not sure where the fantastic element was. To me this was a story about a girl interested in another girl, and one girl has chronic nosebleeds, and eventually they hold hands. It was a nice story, but I seem to have missed the fantasy in it.

I also had some issues with the narration. Her voice was good, but her pauses kept throwing me off.
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« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2013, 10:55:57 AM »

I think the fantasy element is that something sinister is happening to the MC at the crossroads, but she can't quite remember what it is or even that it is happening. Whatever is happening to her, it's the cause of her nosebleeds. I think I would get a lot more out of this story if I was actually familiar with "Waiting for Godot", but the impressive thing (for me) about this story is that it makes me want to learn more in order to unpack it. Rather than being frustrated at its ambiguity, I'm intrigued and want to dig into it.

I also can't decide if the narration was a failed experiment, or brilliant. The pauses and sniffs, the ending at least 50% of the sentences with a questioning inflection, the hesitation. Yeah, I'm leaning toward brilliant, but I'm not really sure yet. I also wanted to add that I really enjoyed Peter Wood's intro. Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2013, 11:19:47 AM »

I generally hate it when people quibble about about whether something is science fiction or fantasy, but here I am doing it! To me, if I have to ponder and rationalize to try to come up with a way in which a story could be considered speculative... it's just not.

Maybe it's just far too subtle for me, though it's not like I require swords and wizards to call something fantasy. Bottom line, I found this story absolutely mundane - in every sense of the word.

If the story was in any way interesting on its own merits I could be more forgiving, but I'm afraid it was my least favorite Podcastle story ever.
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« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2013, 04:24:04 PM »

Oh, damnit. Damnit. Stop posting that nothing happened. I really wanted to finish this story, and I don't know if I can make it.

I read Waiting for Godot. I hated it. My brother tells me that I have to see it, but I don't want to waste the hours of life. The play is unutterably boring to read, and I can't imagine that it's any better to see. If this story has the same "nothing happening, going nowhere" quality, I'm going to ditch right now.

Look, authors of the world - and this includes myself - if you are going to write a story in which nothing to not a lot happens, you need to be extremely good. You need to fill the story with other, incredibly awesome, stuff. You are probably not good enough to pull this off. I am not good enough to pull this off. Night Circus pulls it off... mostly. Maybe - maybe - Neil Gaiman could pull it off, but first of all he's a god, and second of all, he knows better than to try.

Unless this story gets some positive feedback soon, I'm not going to waste the brain cells.
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« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2013, 05:51:25 PM »

Beautifully read, but the story did nothing for me.
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« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2013, 06:07:36 PM »

I read Waiting for Godot. I hated it. My brother tells me that I have to see it, but I don't want to waste the hours of life. The play is unutterably boring to read, and I can't imagine that it's any better to see. If this story has the same "nothing happening, going nowhere" quality, I'm going to ditch right now.

Watching Waiting for Godot on stage, if it's well directed and acted, is an amazing experience. Though I wouldn't recommend it if you come in expecting to dislike it, because it's the type of art that rewards the audience for making an effort to engage, not the type of art that's easy to consume.

Quote
Look, authors of the world - and this includes myself - if you are going to write a story in which nothing to not a lot happens, you need to be extremely good. You need to fill the story with other, incredibly awesome, stuff. You are probably not good enough to pull this off. I am not good enough to pull this off. Night Circus pulls it off... mostly. Maybe - maybe - Neil Gaiman could pull it off, but first of all he's a god, and second of all, he knows better than to try.

I normally agree with most of what you post, but that's a very narrow and prescriptive view of literature.

Quote
Unless this story gets some positive feedback soon, I'm not going to waste the brain cells.

I haven't actually listened to the story yet, so I can't say whether it's any good. But I strongly disagree with your general point above.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2013, 02:09:48 PM by eytanz » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2013, 12:07:27 AM »

I've always loved science fiction and fantasy stories, but I spent a lot of time in college reading literary fiction, the sort of story where atmosphere and mood carry the story more than an overt plot. I still enjoy an occasional story that infuriates with its lack of closure or meanders.

But this didn't quite do it for me. I enjoyed the intro, which stressed the importance of "necessitating a choice" for drama. Was there a choice here that the POV character made? Or did she just moon over the other person and then faced no real conflict or opposition? I could add that I didn't feel very much speculation here, but I didn't feel much story here.

Damn, though, I love that title.
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« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2013, 11:20:09 AM »

I like this story a lot and find it intriguing. Humphrey doesn't provide any answers and she lets the gaps and silences in the narrative itself become as important as what is actually there. Does that work for everyone or for every story? No. But if you enjoy mysteries and an exploration of desire for the love of a particular person, I think you'll find enough in this short story to charm you.

P.S. Beckett's work is FUNNY but in a dark and very bleak way. There is a tremendous amount of slapstick and vaudeville that should inform any decent production of nearly any of his shows that makes you laugh (there's a reason why Robin Williams and Steve Martin took on the leads for a Broadway production several years ago and why Bert Lahr (the Cowardly Lion) was in the original Broadway production).
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« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2013, 11:21:14 AM »

I also can't decide if the narration was a failed experiment, or brilliant. The pauses and sniffs, the ending at least 50% of the sentences with a questioning inflection, the hesitation. Yeah, I'm leaning toward brilliant, but I'm not really sure yet. I also wanted to add that I really enjoyed Peter Wood's intro. Smiley

Thanks. Smiley
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« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2013, 01:07:59 PM »

I normally agree with most of what you post, but that's a very narrow and prescriptive view of literature.

Well, you can't win 'em all. Don't worry - I won't take it personally.

To be fair, this is not a point of view based on theory. This is based on my personal experience as a long-time consumer of literature. I have experienced stories in which the author did not make an effort to ensure that things happened, and I was bored. These were inevitably stories with good prose, halfway-decent characters, and - usually - a beautiful and compelling setting. The author just forgot the "plot" part.

That said, YMMV and all. I like things to happen in my fiction - this isn't true of everyone.

I'm also entirely willing to read something that is and presents itself as a character study or a travelogue of a secondary world (actually, I'd really enjoy reading that). It's just not a story. When I come in expecting a story, and what I get is a flimsy story attached like a hideous parasitic twin to a character study or travelogue... why bother, you know? Just write the character study or travelogue. Don't bore me with a lame, halfhearted story.
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« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2013, 11:56:11 AM »

Oh, damnit. Damnit. Stop posting that nothing happened. I really wanted to finish this story, and I don't know if I can make it.

I read Waiting for Godot. I hated it. My brother tells me that I have to see it, but I don't want to waste the hours of life. The play is unutterably boring to read, and I can't imagine that it's any better to see. If this story has the same "nothing happening, going nowhere" quality, I'm going to ditch right now.

Look, authors of the world - and this includes myself - if you are going to write a story in which nothing to not a lot happens, you need to be extremely good. You need to fill the story with other, incredibly awesome, stuff. You are probably not good enough to pull this off. I am not good enough to pull this off. Night Circus pulls it off... mostly. Maybe - maybe - Neil Gaiman could pull it off, but first of all he's a god, and second of all, he knows better than to try.

Unless this story gets some positive feedback soon, I'm not going to waste the brain cells.

Beckett ostensibly wrote a masterpiece where "not a lot happens" with Godot. You hated it (which is fine), but I think "good enough" is a very relative term here. I think your issues have less to do with whether or not the authors of the world are good enough to write this kind of story, and more to do with whether or not you're interested in listening to/reading that kind of story. 

I'm not suggesting you waste brain cells -as I've said, if you don't like it, that's fine. But please don't ask authors to throw in the towel when they try to do something different because that kind of story isn't your thing.

I'm always hesitant to heap praise on authors on the forum because it should be assumed that I love every story we feature here, but I'm going to go ahead and do it anyway in this thread. I think Claire Humphrey is that good. She has an incredible voice, and I love reading her fiction.

To be fair, this is not a point of view based on theory. This is based on my personal experience as a long-time consumer of literature. I have experienced stories in which the author did not make an effort to ensure that things happened, and I was bored. These were inevitably stories with good prose, halfway-decent characters, and - usually - a beautiful and compelling setting. The author just forgot the "plot" part.

That said, YMMV and all. I like things to happen in my fiction - this isn't true of everyone.

I'm also entirely willing to read something that is and presents itself as a character study or a travelogue of a secondary world (actually, I'd really enjoy reading that). It's just not a story. When I come in expecting a story, and what I get is a flimsy story attached like a hideous parasitic twin to a character study or travelogue... why bother, you know? Just write the character study or travelogue. Don't bore me with a lame, halfhearted story.

Oh, there's quite a few in the vein of this, including the short story Ken Liu was nominated for this year. (I've seen it done by Le Guinn and Catherynne M. Valente too - can hunt up links, etc., later, if you're interested.)
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« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2013, 08:48:01 AM »

Aw, c'mon, EP. Smiley You've been around long enough to know you've got to wait until there's more than 3 posts to make a full assessment of reader opinions. Smiley There's almost ALWAYS wide variance.

Also, for what it's worth, there have been plenty of times when my opinion on a story has differed greatly from some posters. I guess if you perceive it features a  pet peeve of yours nothing wrong with trying to avoid it ('NO. YOU MUST LISTEN TO EVERY PC STORY EVER,' proclaim the evil PodCastle gods. 'ELSE, fearsome sea creatures will rise from your bathtub and nibble your toes.' OK, they might not have said that). I'd suggest offering criticism based on the story itself, though, not based on other people's feedback.
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« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2013, 12:09:43 PM »

This story was utterly brilliant.  Top, top, top marks, with perhaps a soupçon of disappointment about Another Coming Out Story.  (It's a popular theme with a lot of useful ores to dig up, but it's pretty heavily mined these days.)

I'm leaning towards Satan being at the crossroads (because that's both mythologically accurate and also an amusing counterpoint to "It's not God that they're waiting for.  It's more personal than that."  God, after all, is the ultimate reshaper, the conformity of holy unity, the Singularity of I Am; the Devil, on the other hand, wants to separate you from the herd, to isolate you.  God loves everyone; the Devil wants you.)  On the flip side, nosebleeds suggest Roswellian alien abductions, as do the bouts of missing time/foggy memories, and comparing SETI's likely fruitless quest with Vladimir and Estragon's anxious awaiting of Godot also amuses me.

It's really not important, of course, and I strongly appreciate the story not forcing the issue.

Also, "Waiting for Godot" is one of the best plays ever, read or performed.  (Except for when people try to make it heavy, portentous, and boring and thus somehow more artistic.)
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« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2013, 01:45:47 PM »

I have no idea what this story was about, or even if it was about anything at all.
The narration was (IMO) absolutely awful. Between the agonizingly. Slow. Reading. And. The. Inexplicable. Pauses. I. Couldn't. Really. Follow? Not to mention the half-swallowed words.
The story itself was not too good either. The profusion of (probably theater-related but to me) inexplicable terms helped throw me off.
And I really really don't like stream-of-consciousness stories.
I spent the whole time looking at my player and just waiting for it to be over. "Are there 7 minutes of outro+comments? 6 minutes? Is is almost over yet?"
Two thumbs down. Let the tiger get this one.
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« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2013, 01:46:31 PM »

I know I read "Waiting for Godot" in college. I know that I did. And, it left only the tiniest sliver of impression on me.
Me: "Brain, we read Waiting for Godot, didn't we? What was it all about?"

Brain: "I dunno. Bunch of guys, with nothing else going on waiting for some dude who doesn't show up. But, it was REALLY REALLY important because smart people really liked it, so its a good thing we read it, because we want to be a smart person too."

Me: "Um, ok. That's good then."

So, yeah, glossing over the literary significance thing. WTF nosebleeds? Nosebleeds? I was having the same thoughts as the protagonist during the story...the meaning of everything kept just slipping away, just out of reach.

My nice human brain kept trying to shove some sort of pattern onto the nosebleeds. All it came up with was that they occur with The Gay Thoughts. Think The Gay Thoughts, get nosebleed. So, um, then what was with the pen? Did she lobotomize herself? Of course, the physician in me decided she had leukemia and should really go get checked out for those. Argh.

I am not going to let a science fiction short story make me feel bad for forgetting "Waiting For Godot".

As for the narration, I thought it was exceptionally well acted. BUT, I thought it was to good. Let me attempt to articulate:
Plays are acted because, they are plays and dialogue is pretty much all there is. Stories are read because they are stories and have a narrative that is not (mostly) dialogue dependent. This story got "acted" and I think it interfered a bit with my ability to follow what had originally been a narrative. The non dialogue bits got kind of smooshed into dialogueness and well...it didn't work for me.  


 
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« Reply #16 on: February 26, 2013, 02:57:05 PM »

Not having read, nor ever heard of "Waiting for Gorot", I started into the play hoping it might shed some light on this story.

I got about 10 lines in and decided that perhaps I'd be better off Youtubin' the play itself.

I made it through 9 minutes before pulling out.

I like surreal and I like dark comedy, but something about these two stories just doesn't jive with me.  The combination of weird and dark humor sounds like it should result in discomfort, but I was mainly bored.

Nothing to be done about it.  I'll just stand here and wait for something to happen to me.
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« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2013, 03:12:55 PM »

A couple of years ago I saw a production starring Patrick Stewart and Ian Mckellen.

It was GLORIOUS.

If you can, find that online, it'll raise the text immeasurably.
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« Reply #18 on: February 26, 2013, 03:43:19 PM »

A couple of years ago I saw a production starring Patrick Stewart and Ian Mckellen.

Well, they could make anything glorious. Seriously, I'd pay to listen to them take turns reading the phone book.
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« Reply #19 on: February 26, 2013, 04:17:44 PM »

A couple of years ago I saw a production starring Patrick Stewart and Ian Mckellen.

It was GLORIOUS.

If you can, find that online, it'll raise the text immeasurably.

Looks like they're gonna be doing it again. Damn. I'd love to see that. 
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