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Author Topic: PC269: Selected Program Notes From the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa  (Read 12591 times)

Talia

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PodCastle 269: Selected Program Notes From the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer

by Kenneth Schneyer.

Read by Peter Wood.

Originally published in Clockwork Phoenix 4, edited by Mike Allen.

34.     _Magda #4_ (1989)
        Oil on poplar wood, 30 x 21″
        Private collection

Sometimes called “Devotion” by critics, this nude the earliest extant work featuring Magda Ridley Meszaros (1963-2023), Latimer’s favorite model and later her wife.  The lushness of the flesh and the rosiness of the skin are reminiscent of Renoir’s paintings of Aline Charigot _(See, e.g., The Large Bathers_ (1887) (Fig. 8)).  Latimer maintains microscopic hyperrealism even as she employs radiating brushstrokes which emanate from the model, as if Meszaros is the source of reality itself.

_Discussion questions:_

a.      The materials and dimensions of this painting duplicate those of Da Vinci’s _La Gioconda_ (c. 1503-1519) (Fig. 17).  Is this merely a compositional joke or homage by Latimer?  How does it change the way you see the painting?

b.      Most biographers agree that Latimer and Meszaros were already lovers by the time this work was completed.  Is this apparent from the composition or technique?  From the pose of the model?  As you proceed through the exhibit, note similarities and differences between this and other portrayals of Meszaros over the next 34 years.


Rated R. Contains references to murder and child abuse.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: August 07, 2013, 12:36:44 PM by Talia »



ToooooMuchCoffeeMan

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At the start of this story I thought it was an interesting twist on the epistolary, but otherwise unremarkable. I was listening while riding my bicycle and when the story finished I had to stop because I was sobbing, and at first I couldn't even have said why.

Part of it is the contrast of the dry, academic, unemotional narration and the lives it reveals, bursting with love and tragedy and joy. The relatively abrupt ending was like a punch to the sternum. It literally took my breath away.

I do not believe in any of the metaphysics implied by this story, but I do believe that a world where it were so would be a more hopeful and if not more comfortable, at least a more comfortED place.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2013, 09:05:07 AM by ToooooMuchCoffeeMan »



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For the first half or so, I kept starting to reach over to my phone to skip over it, but the intro said not to...

I'm glad I didn't.

I liked where it went and I actually liked how open to interpretation it still is. There's just enough of a touch of the fantastical to make me think. The style is odd, but I think it works. It would be interesting to see a version of the story / world from TRL's point of view, although I imagine it would be rather different in tone.

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Kaa

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Kind of ditto. Because Dave said not to skip it, I gave it that extra couple of minutes. I was driving, and after I got where I was headed, I sat in the car in the parking lot and let it play to the end. It was just beautiful and moving, and like ToooooMuchCoffeeMan, I'm not altogether sure why. The only thing was...I kept wanting to Google Image search the (real) paintings referenced so I could see the image.

Perhaps I'll listen to this one again while I'm actually at my computer and can listen more actively.

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Moritz

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I liked it in the first hearing but I needed to listen to it twice before posting, fearing that I had missed something. I generally like more experimental, even the more pretentious writing styles, so I was exited about this piece from the beginning - though at first I wasn't sure where this would be going, as I don't know anything about art criticism. Some of the questions were quite suggestive weren't they? They really worked as part of building the story but they would be strange in an actual program.

I read a lot of fiction like this in book form but would usually file it under literally fiction, maybe magical realism*. In fact, I am not sure how well it fits into PodCastle's portfolio, especially right after Conan. I usually delete past episodes from my iTunes, but this one will definitely stay on my playlist. It's one of the more distinct pieces of the last months.

* i.e. fantasy for people who think that genre fiction isn't art.  ;)



Moritz

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The only thing was...I kept wanting to Google Image search the (real) paintings referenced so I could see the image.

As I listened to this on the commute, I was also wondering whether we could get links in the shownotes to the real life paintings mentioned in the story.



ElectricPaladin

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Oh man. This story. Oh man... It kind of blew my mind. I don't even know what to say. It was beautiful, strange, and... yeah, it worked. It took a while for the format to colonize and oppress my brain to the point that the narrative flowed, but it was totally worth it. Thanks for taking a chance on this one, Dave.

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InfiniteMonkey

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Heh. Well, for me, a cataloger who's worked in art museums, there wasn't as much unusual about the way the story was presented  ;D

Not that I was ever clever enough to think up presenting a story in this fashion.   

I kept thinking of William Blake and his visions (let's face it, if Blake were born today, he'd be on meds and have a very dull accounting job somewhere. If he was lucky). In Theresa's case, well, I'll come right out and say it, it's more of a "I see dead people!" thing than Blake's angels, but it still is an artist seeing beyond the mundane.

I was also put in mind of something Alisdair said about a story on Escape Pod recently, about the stuff going on just outside the frame of the story. Certainly you can see the tracings of the events - rejection from parents, loss of friends, fostering a battered child - but it's more interesting piecing it together from the description of the art works. Hell, I think it's even better than if someone had tried to *make* the artworks, because of course the paintings probably look better in our imaginations (unless the painter is very very good).



chemistryguy

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As neighboring Detroit heads into bankruptcy, I cringe at the possibility that some of the DIA's collections might be sold off.  I regret not visiting more or learning more behind some of the pieces. 

I want to visit this exhibition and learn more about this artist who doesn't exist.  The imagery created was just amazing.  Thanks so much for running it.



DKT

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I read a lot of fiction like this in book form but would usually file it under literally fiction, maybe magical realism*. In fact, I am not sure how well it fits into PodCastle's portfolio, especially right after Conan. I usually delete past episodes from my iTunes, but this one will definitely stay on my playlist. It's one of the more distinct pieces of the last months.

* i.e. fantasy for people who think that genre fiction isn't art.  ;)

Hmmmm. How long have you been listening? Pretty much since the beginning PodCastle has prided itself in running some very different kinds of fantasy, trying to showcase that it can be so much more than S&S or Epic, which (I think) is primarily how it's viewed. You might be interested in these stories:

The Axiom of Choice, by David W. Goldman
State Change, by Ken Liu
The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories, by Gene Wolfe
The Hortlak, by Kelly Link
Some Zombie Contingency Plans, by Kelly Link
Fourteen Experiments in Postal Delivery, by John Schoffstall
The Ant King: A California Fairy Tale, by Benjamin Rosenbaum

There's easily a dozen more I could come up with, but hopefully this helps you get started if you're looking for something other than Danger! Thrills! Excitement!


Moritz

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Oh, I didn't start posting here until I had listened to every single episode in the back catalogue. I am now almost up to date with pseudopod as well. In any case, I didn't mean setting wise, but style wise. From your list, I don't remember any of these being as experimental.



DKT

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No worries! Experimentation is in the ear of the beholder, I guess :)


DKT

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Oh man. This story. Oh man... It kind of blew my mind. I don't even know what to say. It was beautiful, strange, and... yeah, it worked. It took a while for the format to colonize and oppress my brain to the point that the narrative flowed, but it was totally worth it. Thanks for taking a chance on this one, Dave and Anna.

Fixed this for you :)

And you're welcome!  ;D


ElectricPaladin

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Oh man. This story. Oh man... It kind of blew my mind. I don't even know what to say. It was beautiful, strange, and... yeah, it worked. It took a while for the format to colonize and oppress my brain to the point that the narrative flowed, but it was totally worth it. Thanks for taking a chance on this one, Dave and Anna.

Fixed this for you :)

And you're welcome!  ;D

Thanks, Dave.

It's totally unfair, but in my mind you will always be the heart and soul of Podcastle, in the same way that Nyarlathotep is the soul and messenger of the Outer Gods.

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LadiesAndGentleman

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Adored this one.  Good job, Ken Schneyer.  This seems like a step in the right direction for his fiction, at least from what I've read.  It had me from beginning to end and I teared up a little as it came to a close.

I briefly wondered why people in the artist's world didn't pick up on the fact she was depicting ghosts/souls, but I talked myself through this sticking point with the idea that this story is made up of isolated excerpts.  Some other academic in this setting is probably theorizing about Theresa Rosenberg Latimer's supernatural abilities, possibly an academic with a penchant for tinfoil hats and a catchphrase along the lines of, "They thought I was mad at the university...for art critics!"

Because I read this as a straightforward ghost story, I didn't see it as particularly experimental.  Maybe in comparison to Conan, but on its own?  I don't see it.

[...]

I read a lot of fiction like this in book form but would usually file it under literally fiction, maybe magical realism*. In fact, I am not sure how well it fits into PodCastle's portfolio, especially right after Conan. I usually delete past episodes from my iTunes, but this one will definitely stay on my playlist. It's one of the more distinct pieces of the last months.

* i.e. fantasy for people who think that genre fiction isn't art.  ;)

I agree it's a distinct piece and certainly one I'll be brooding on for a while, but I'm going to nitpick about this definition of magical realism.  For a while, I also thought it was a way for English students and professors to refer to fantasy they don't want to admit is fantasy or a label the marketing department of publishing houses threw on to get a review by The New Yorker.  Instead, I've discovered "magical realism" is mainly used to refer to political fiction that uses a surreal or meta lens.  Magical realism novels are usually set against a background of social upheaval, like Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, Catheryne Valente's Deathless, and Toni Morrison's Beloved.  Characters have problems that they're either unable to talk about openly or too traumatic to contemplate, so conflicts are written in a "coded" language. Allies and antagonists in these works become ghosts, monsters, and living folklore characters, just depicted in a "factual" or reporter-like way.  There's an extra layer of metaphor wandering around. 

So I do think magical realism is its own category not just a phrase slapped onto "literary" fiction.  While I like Schneyer's piece, I don't think it entirely fits this category.



Sgarre1

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There is a fantastic essay at the back of Dedalus Books THE MYTH OF THE WORLD: SURREALISM 2 (which is the second part of their two volume anthology of Surrealist texts) which I wish was more widely available.  Written by the series editor Michael Richardson, it lays out his clear and lucid way of making distinctions between terms like "Fantasy", "Magical Realism", "Surrealist", etc. etc. (as might be expected, it comes down to intent instead of content).  If I can dig up my copy I may try to excerpt some of it here but it's a fairly long essay so I'm not sure if there's some crux point where everything gets summed up (and which wouldn't, in summing up such previously extended thoughts, just make the argument sound reductive).  But it's well worth searching out.



Ken Schneyer

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Since it's been a full week, I thought I'd drop in and say how delighted and flattered I am to receive feedback like this.  When I realized that LadiesAndGentlemen had actually read enough of my other stories to form an opinion about the direction my work is taking, my jaw dropped; that's never happened to me before!  Wow.  And I'm especially grateful to those who confessed to tears -- there were tears involved in the writing of it.

I'm floored by Peter's stunning performance, and I also think that Dave was at the top of his game on this one.  I was moved by his personal perspective on these ideas, and wasn't expecting the Van Gogh quote at the end, which got me sniffling all over again.

I've never paid too much attention to genre or subgenre boundaries, so I don't know whether someone would classify this story as "fantasy", "magical realism", or chopped liver.  I do think, however, that the "coded" language is there if you look for it.  (There's lots of hidden stuff in the characters' names,  for example...)

What I was mainly after was the dissonance between the narrative voice and the reality of the events in the story.  I wanted the reader to become increasingly uncomfortable with the curator's cluelessness about what was happening to Latimer, especially the superficiality of his (I think of the curator as male) understanding of her emotional life.

Thanks so much for your thoughtful responses!



Liminal

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I'm floored by Peter's stunning performance, and I also think that Dave was at the top of his game on this one.  I was moved by his personal perspective on these ideas, and wasn't expecting the Van Gogh quote at the end, which got me sniffling all over again.

Gee, thanks! I am so very happy you feel I did right by your story.

BTW, my folks live in RI and I used to live in Providence so I loved narrating a story where I could envision, so clearly, some of the settings. Next time I'm visiting, I'd like to buy you a drink of your choice.  :)


Why is this thus? What is the reason for this thusness? - Artemus Ward


ElectricPaladin

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What I was mainly after was the dissonance between the narrative voice and the reality of the events in the story.  I wanted the reader to become increasingly uncomfortable with the curator's cluelessness about what was happening to Latimer, especially the superficiality of his (I think of the curator as male) understanding of her emotional life.

I can't say that I had any particular sense of the curator's sex, and didn't see it as particularly relevant. Frankly, I thought that the curator's understanding of Latimer's emotional life was perfectly reasonable... assuming that Latimer was merely an ordinarily eccentric artist, rather than someone communicating an extraordinary, extra-normal experience through art. Having escaped an abusive family, myself, I thought that Latimer's art was very consistent with that kind of upbringing, and the curator seemed to understand that. What the curator didn't get, though...

Is exactly what I want to ask you about!

I kind of doubt you're going to answer this, but now that I've experienced the story without the taint of your outside opinion, what did you imagine was going on with Latimer? Or was this story all evocation, with no tale at the heart of it?

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Rindan

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I recently read the Tigers Wife as part of a book club.  It has
magical realism, yet you will find it sitting by near unanimous agreement in the literary fiction section.  Cryptonomicron by Neal Stephenson on the other hand has only the faintest hint of fantastical or sci-fi elements to it and is, as far as anyone is concerned, solidly sci-fi.  I can't recall who pointed it out to me, but often times a lot of what divides genera fiction and literary fiction is that genera fiction feels compelled to have a driving plot that is used to explore an idea, while literary fiction can have a weak while focusing on exploring inner space.  Cryptonomicon is sci-fi because it explores contemporary technology and has a driving story.  Tigers Wife sits comfortably in literary fiction because fantastical elements aside, there is no driving plot (though it has some great storytelling) and it is an exploration of inner space.

I personally appreciate both literature and genera fiction, but I couldn't but help scratch my head as to why this is on PodCastle.  To me, this piece was pure literature by nearly every conceivable definition.  It was like reaching for a beer and finding out that I was eating lettuce.  If you squint really really hard and go cross-eyed, maybe you can squeeze a drop of extremely light magical realism out, but it doesn't do anything else to nudge it towards genera fiction of any flavor.  It isn't an "is this fantasy" question.  Normally I can at least see both sides of the question, even if my personal answer is "no".  My response was more "what, wut?"

All of that said, I liked it.  I would be annoyed if PodCastle switched my beer for lettuce too many times, but the reading was fantastic and the dissonance between the intro to art 101 "I am going to force my opinion down your throat with an inane questions" and the images described was pleasant and interesting.



Ken Schneyer

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I kind of doubt you're going to answer this, but now that I've experienced the story without the taint of your outside opinion, what did you imagine was going on with Latimer? Or was this story all evocation, with no tale at the heart of it?

I'm conflicted about whether to answer, because the evocation is so much of what I was after, and because I think that the author's notion of "what the story's about" is less important than the story that played out in the reader's head.

That said, I'll give a brief answer under the spoiler mask, if you still want to read it:

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

I agree that the narrator's sex wasn't especially important to the story.  But he's male.  :)

Interestingly, among my beta readers, the fantasy element of the story was blindingly obvious to some, and completely obscure to others.  It split about evenly.



Ken Schneyer

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BTW, my folks live in RI and I used to live in Providence so I loved narrating a story where I could envision, so clearly, some of the settings. Next time I'm visiting, I'd like to buy you a drink of your choice.  :)

I would be honored!  Trinity Brewhouse, perhaps?



Windup

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Interestingly, among my beta readers, the fantasy element of the story was blindingly obvious to some, and completely obscure to others.  It split about evenly.


I'm not sure if I would have caught the fantasy element if it hadn't been looking for it, and I'm not sure if I would have looked for it if it hadn't been on PodCastle.  I guess setting matters...

"My whole job is in the space between 'should be' and 'is.' It's a big space."


Moritz

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[...]

I read a lot of fiction like this in book form but would usually file it under literally fiction, maybe magical realism*. In fact, I am not sure how well it fits into PodCastle's portfolio, especially right after Conan. I usually delete past episodes from my iTunes, but this one will definitely stay on my playlist. It's one of the more distinct pieces of the last months.

* i.e. fantasy for people who think that genre fiction isn't art.  ;)

I agree it's a distinct piece and certainly one I'll be brooding on for a while, but I'm going to nitpick about this definition of magical realism.  For a while, I also thought it was a way for English students and professors to refer to fantasy they don't want to admit is fantasy or a label the marketing department of publishing houses threw on to get a review by The New Yorker.  Instead, I've discovered "magical realism" is mainly used to refer to political fiction that uses a surreal or meta lens.  Magical realism novels are usually set against a background of social upheaval, like Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, Catheryne Valente's Deathless, and Toni Morrison's Beloved.  Characters have problems that they're either unable to talk about openly or too traumatic to contemplate, so conflicts are written in a "coded" language. Allies and antagonists in these works become ghosts, monsters, and living folklore characters, just depicted in a "factual" or reporter-like way.  There's an extra layer of metaphor wandering around. 

So I do think magical realism is its own category not just a phrase slapped onto "literary" fiction.  While I like Schneyer's piece, I don't think it entirely fits this category.

See, but that's how I interpreted this piece. There is child abuse and a relationship that the parents are not fond of (and which in current times would be non-mainstream, the story suggests that in the future it will be more accepted), and then ghosts show up. This to me is pretty close to your definition of magical realism. I do have to admit that I never defined magical realism the way you just did, but I am not a literature expert anyway.



Liminal

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I would be honored!  Trinity Brewhouse, perhaps?

Absolutely!

Why is this thus? What is the reason for this thusness? - Artemus Ward


ElectricPaladin

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I kind of doubt you're going to answer this, but now that I've experienced the story without the taint of your outside opinion, what did you imagine was going on with Latimer? Or was this story all evocation, with no tale at the heart of it?

I'm conflicted about whether to answer, because the evocation is so much of what I was after, and because I think that the author's notion of "what the story's about" is less important than the story that played out in the reader's head.

That said, I'll give a brief answer under the spoiler mask, if you still want to read it...

That's really neat! I like the story you were telling. My guesses were more or less along the same lines, but I injected some other, more epic thoughts - because that's how I roll as a creative person. The way that several of the paintings implied that there was something more going on off-panel inspired in me the idea that not only was Latimer interacting with the dead, she was also interacting with something beyond the dead, something that she couldn't bring shape to, something that the dead were helping her to protect the rest of us from...

But that's the beauty of the story you wrote. I can have my interpretation, which is wrong :D, and you can have your interpretation!

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I'm a bit late to the show on comments, but I very much enjoyed this story, especially right after our ham-fisted barbarian friend. It was so very subtle and just well crafted as a whole. I felt a connection with the artist and her loves, despite the lack of dialogue or ever having any real interaction with her. I am actually amazed that this story pulled together so well. It was a risk, but I'm happy that the author took that risk, because this was a beautiful story. I especially loved the ending and the last painting. I felt happy for her. Frankly, I felt optimistic about death and how many times do you get to feel that way? Great story.


Devoted135

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Late to the party as well, but I have to jump on the "loved it" bandwagon. I could see each of the paintings in my mind's eye, and the unique style really created a lush atmosphere for me. The fantasy element was not at all obvious to me, which actually seems kind of perfect. It seems to me that the artist was hiding a message in her paintings that was only visible to those who were looking for it; similarly, the fantasy elements in this story are hidden and only really visible to those who are looking for it.



Max e^{i pi}

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This was very nice. The format of the story didn't bother me at all. I do try to go to museums to learn about art and get culture that doesn't come in my yogurt, so it was easy to follow.
Very quickly I was totally swept up in the artist's life and world.
I often bounce back and forth between "the artist/author doesn't have any hidden message, you people are all crazy" and "it's obvious that the artist/author was trying to tell us xyz". But in this case, the description of the stories, but mostly the discussion questions, made think about the artist, connect with her. Live part of her life with her. Love with her. Hurt with her.

I need to ask though: does anybody know of the significance of the paints she used for her paintings? Before she saw dead people, before the Highlights period, she used oil paints. Exclusively. Afterwards, when she starting seeing dead people and drew them as Highlights, she used acrylic paints. Exclusively. Except for one: her last portrait of Meszaros while Meszaros was still alive is a Highlights painting done with oil paints. It's explained that the purpose was to draw similarities to an older painting, and I accept that as part of the reason, not the whole reason.

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I found this one fascinating and incredibly well-read. I definitely feel that the reader heightened the impact of the story perfectly.

It makes me remember all of the dry, dusty histories I've been lectured on in the past (both artistic and non) as well as the no-longer-private personal lives of those people. It's so easy to dismiss them as simply names and dates instead of living, breathing people who suffer from the same sorts of joys and depressions that we do. The way the narrator dismissed the artist, yet somehow hinting to us, the readers, that there was so much more going on.

I LOVED the descriptions of the paintings, the "Highlighting" and the only-just implied meaning behind it. I loved the quote at the Sistine chapel section, about believing that the scars are the truth. I loved that she was a lesbian matter-of-factly -- with no huge impact on the plot itself, but also with no shame or blunting. I am haunted by the faces of the dead, and how perfectly she painted them despite there being no way she could have known what they looked like ahead of time. The brief scent of magic, like a foreign flower's pollen drifting on a breeze through a manicured garden.

This is the story that got me hooked on PodCastle, and I'm having a lot of fun going through the archives now. =]


Ken Schneyer

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This is the story that got me hooked on PodCastle, and I'm having a lot of fun going through the archives now. =]

Okay, Peter and I are both choked up now.  What a wonderful thing to say!  Thank you.



DKT

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This is the story that got me hooked on PodCastle, and I'm having a lot of fun going through the archives now. =]

Okay, Peter and I are both choked up now.  What a wonderful thing to say!  Thank you.

Yeah, me too :-)

Welcome, Whiskerwing! Hope you enjoy the castle :-)


Father Beast

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My problem is that I usually have multiple conflicting theories about what is going on in a story like this, and by the time I have narrowed it down, the story is almost over, and I'm not interested enough to listen again to see if my theory fits. I NEVER listen to a story again directly after hearing it, but that's exactly what I did. My theory seemed to fit, and the story was well worth listening to over again.

If you're not paying attention, that's one of the signs of good writing, when being spoiled on the secrets of the plot in no way decrease the enjoyment of the story.

The guide to the artwork is quite the contrast, being so completely clueless about the work, and offering questions which will do nothing to enhance your enjoyment of the work. He is the classic example of someone who has spent too much time reading stuff written about the paintings, and not enough time looking at them.

Yeah, it made the "Best Of" list.



LadiesAndGentleman

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[...]

I read a lot of fiction like this in book form but would usually file it under literally fiction, maybe magical realism*. In fact, I am not sure how well it fits into PodCastle's portfolio, especially right after Conan. I usually delete past episodes from my iTunes, but this one will definitely stay on my playlist. It's one of the more distinct pieces of the last months.

* i.e. fantasy for people who think that genre fiction isn't art.  ;)

I agree it's a distinct piece and certainly one I'll be brooding on for a while, but I'm going to nitpick about this definition of magical realism.  For a while, I also thought it was a way for English students and professors to refer to fantasy they don't want to admit is fantasy or a label the marketing department of publishing houses threw on to get a review by The New Yorker.  Instead, I've discovered "magical realism" is mainly used to refer to political fiction that uses a surreal or meta lens.  Magical realism novels are usually set against a background of social upheaval, like Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, Catheryne Valente's Deathless, and Toni Morrison's Beloved.  Characters have problems that they're either unable to talk about openly or too traumatic to contemplate, so conflicts are written in a "coded" language. Allies and antagonists in these works become ghosts, monsters, and living folklore characters, just depicted in a "factual" or reporter-like way.  There's an extra layer of metaphor wandering around. 

So I do think magical realism is its own category not just a phrase slapped onto "literary" fiction.  While I like Schneyer's piece, I don't think it entirely fits this category.

See, but that's how I interpreted this piece. There is child abuse and a relationship that the parents are not fond of (and which in current times would be non-mainstream, the story suggests that in the future it will be more accepted), and then ghosts show up. This to me is pretty close to your definition of magical realism. I do have to admit that I never defined magical realism the way you just did, but I am not a literature expert anyway.

Eh... I still hesitate to put it under the "magic realism" umbrella because it doesn't appear to be political or expand beyond Theresa's personal traumas and demons.



eytanz

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I simply adored this story, and the reading. It was beautiful, amazing, and touching. It's one of the rare stories where I have nothing to nitpick. I love that I got to hear it, and I love that Podcastle gets to play a Conan classic one week and this story the next.



danooli

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So touching!  I've never been an "art" person, but boy, I'll be damned if I didn't wish I could see these paintings...

Ken Schneyer has actually made me interested in art! 

And the narration by Peter Wood was great!  It could have been somewhat dry, but he brought a warmth to it that helped bring the paintings being described to vivid life.  Wonderful!



Liminal

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So touching!  I've never been an "art" person, but boy, I'll be damned if I didn't wish I could see these paintings...

Ken Schneyer has actually made me interested in art! 

And the narration by Peter Wood was great!  It could have been somewhat dry, but he brought a warmth to it that helped bring the paintings being described to vivid life.  Wonderful!

Thanks so much Danooli - I was worried about the balance between a somewhat academic tone and enough emotion to pull you in. I'm glad it seems to have worked for most. :)

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Ken Schneyer

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Ken Schneyer has actually made me interested in art! 


"...My work here is done..."  ;D

Thanks for the compliment!  So glad you liked it.



FireTurtle

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I recognize that I'm a little late to the party, but life went a little sideways for me right after I listened to this and I couldn't get up the wherewithal to comment. I REALLY enjoyed this one. I can't point to a single facet of "why" I enjoyed it so much, just that it was, er, unique and enjoyable.

To put it with more wordiness: This contained within in the best and brightest aspects of my love for the speculative genre. A poignant and graceful depiction of the best and worst of the human condition overlaid with a fantastic element that reaches just beyond where we are now to who we wish we could be. All packaged in a format that places as somewhere we'd never thought to be in a story.

Well done.

Kudos as well to the narrator. I kept flashing back to college art classes. It was eerie. But, not in a bad way.

“My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.”
Ursula K. LeGuin


ctjhill

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I really enjoyed this story and ended up listening to it twice. Admittedly it was partly because I got distracted part way through by real life happening and missed a few sentences. Even so, usually when that happens I try and catch up with what's going on, but with this one I didn't want to miss a thing.

It was very powerful, and I felt fairly emotional at the end. The way it was done was really interesting, constructing the character and telling the story of her life through her art worked really well.



LaShawn

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I listened to this story yesterday, then listened to it again today. And then I went home and read it because I do have Clockwork Phoenix 4.

And I have to be honest, each time, I grew more and more disturbed. Which was a feeling I hadn't expected from this story.

I can't put my finger on why, either. It's a gorgeous story and I could easily picture each portrait in my mind. The fact that this is a ghost story didn't bother me...at first. At least, not until the last portrait.

My guess would be that, gathered from the bits and pieces in the notes, I don't think Theresa Rosenbert Latimer had a happy life; in fact, I got a feeling that she was a tortured individual. Wow...that landscape picture where everything is drab and monotonous and painted the same way--if that isn't depression, I don't know what is. Once she started seeing ghosts, that didn't make things any easier. The one with her "highlighted" parents certainly showed that. So the last portrait with herself "highlighted"--right before her suicide-- should have been downright chilling to the anonymous writer of the program notes.

Which I think is the brilliant point of the story. We have a woman who went through much emotional turmoil, and it is all viewed by a dry, clinical, oblivious narrator. I think this one will sit with me for a long time.

Kudos to Peter, though, for an *excellent* reading. There was a point when I really did feel like I was listening to a PBS or an NPR station.

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Unblinking

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Hm, it appears that I get to be the lone voice of dissent on this one.

The story was well-written.  The life was well-described.  I felt like they were all real people, and this was real art.  This was all good.

The tone was very dry and distant.  Which, given the title and format was entirely appropriate.  I entirely believed that this could've been grabbed from some art curator's filing cabinet and published as though it were fiction.  And I like going to museums, and reading this kind of thing on the plaques by the exhibits. 

The thing is, I enjoy reading those notes in a different way than I enjoy reading really good emotional fiction.  I find the details interesting, but the format makes it hard for me to really connect to it on a deep emotional level like this story apparently was meant to do.  Apparently I'm the only one here who had that problem, which is fine. 

It seemed like most people were convinced that this was a ghost story rather than just metaphor in painting.  Anyone care to elaborate on that?  Given the format, I don't think there's any way to tell--every bit of the painter's life that we know is portrayed in the paintings which means it just had to come from her mind not necessarily reality, but maybe I'm wrong.



Fenrix

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I've been thinking about this one well after completion, so that's a good sign. I have struggled with audio stories that are excerpts from texts. I think why this one worked so well in audio where the others have failed is that this just sounds like one of those audio tours where you put on a headset and walk around the museum. With that frame, and the strong descriptions of the pictures, it's easy to visualize walking around the gallery.

This one's definitely going on the next road trip disc, as the wife and her art background will really dig this one.

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


Unblinking

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In case anyone hadn't heard yet, this story got a Nebula nomination this year:
http://www.sfwa.org/2014/02/2013-nebula-nominees-announced/



TrishEM

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My sister was telling me last week about a story on Clarkesworld, and I said hmmm, that reminds me of a story on Podcastle a year ago or so, Notes from an Exhibition something something...
I finally looked it up, and this was the story. Wow, all the way back from 2013! I guess the great stories really stick in my mind and seem fresh even years later. I listened to it again today, and it is still just as impressive.



Marlboro

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Good story. Perfect reading.





It seemed like most people were convinced that this was a ghost story rather than just metaphor in painting.  Anyone care to elaborate on that?  Given the format, I don't think there's any way to tell--every bit of the painter's life that we know is portrayed in the paintings which means it just had to come from her mind not necessarily reality, but maybe I'm wrong. 




I think the painting of the victims of the 1908 mill fire go a long way to confirming the ghostly aspects of the story. The artist has accurately painted images of ~30 people who died in an accident 100 years earlier, not as they appeared at the time, but as they each appeared in their 20s. The narrator mentions that it has taken researchers decades to dig up old photos to confirm that she portrayed them realistically. It seems improbable that (as the narrator believes) the artist has preternatural skills as a researcher.