Author Topic: Pseudopod 402: The Recovery  (Read 4477 times)

Bdoomed

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Pseudopod 402: The Recovery
« on: September 07, 2014, 07:14:21 AM »
Pseudopod 402: The Recovery

by H.V. Chao.

“The Recovery” was first published in a slightly different form in Strange Tales IV from Tartarus Press, edited by Rosalie Parker. It is forthcoming in a translation by Anne-Sylvie Homassel in Le Visage Vert.

H.V. CHAO‘s fiction has appeared in The Kenyon Review, West Branch, The Antigonish Review, Birkensnake, The Nashwaak Review, Epiphany, The Coachella Review, and Douglas Lain’s defunct Diet Soap. His stories have been translated into French in Brèves and Le Visage Vert. He is at work on Guises, a collection whose every story is meant to be as different as can be from the others.

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Tonight, I hiked to the chapel of the town’s patron saint. On the way, you pass something like a chimney sprouting from the ground. Topped by a Madonna, it marks the spot where the saint is said to have sauvé la terre, vanquishing a dragon by throwing his ring in its mouth. The chapel is flanked by pines and had been locked against vandals. On a nearby rise are the remains of a long, low barn: the fractured roof timbers, a wall of wattle and daub still whole but reeling as if from a mighty blow. The decrepitude bespoke neither neglect nor the cheap residue of expedience, but the weight of centuries withstood. From atop the hill, I could see the cemetery.

The whole town was there, gathered by a grave. Their backs were turned to me, and a tremor passed through the group: shoulders swayed, weight shifted to the other foot. I saw the butcheress draw closer to my landlady and further from the cheesemonger. I watched until the group slowly scattered, then I skittered down the hill to the graveyard. Wrought-iron masts and crosses, plaques, shattered flowerpots. On the tomb were a shovel and a bottle of wine, but the grave was empty. I was still standing there when it began to rain.

A village is a murder mystery. The conversation of townsfolk is rich in allusion; red herrings in shared histories you don’t understand. The air of conspiracy inspires you to imagine a crime. Everyone has something to hide, but you cannot tell if it pertains to the case at hand, or if it will merely prove a false lead: another skeleton in another closet, a private and irrelevant embarrassment. Yet surely this suspicion of wrongdoing is only a hallucination of exclusion. After all these months, I was still a stranger to the town, while my neighbour had found not only love, but he would abscond with it.





Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?

adrianh

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Re: Pseudopod 402: The Recovery
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2014, 02:33:04 PM »
Just listened to this while doing the ironing.

Well. That was… odd.

It didn't horrify or disturb. Mildly confuse maybe ;-)

One of the things that troubled me was the language didn't feel like it fit the period of the story. We have scooters, films with sex, etc. so we're at least early 20th century — and probably post WWII. However the somewhat florid language and narration style left me feeling much more Poe-ish. My mind was setting it in the 1800s. Every time a more modern reference came up it felt off. But maybe that's just me.


bounceswoosh

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Re:
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2014, 05:26:35 PM »
It's not just you.

ElectroSquid

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Re: Pseudopod 402: The Recovery
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2014, 07:23:28 AM »
Also a bit confused. I didn't mind the old fashioned style though - I think it wouldn't have worked if it had been a third-person narrative, but as it was written in first-person, it's just  part of how the narrator speaks. Perhaps he sees himself as living in a Poe novel.

Scuba Man

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Re: Pseudopod 402: The Recovery
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2014, 06:56:56 PM »
Also a bit confused. I didn't mind the old fashioned style though - I think it wouldn't have worked if it had been a third-person narrative, but as it was written in first-person, it's just  part of how the narrator speaks. Perhaps he sees himself as living in a Poe novel.

I'd agree with the Poe comparison.  If it were not for the Alistar "outro", I would have been completely lost by this story.  It felt like a stream-of-consciousness tale.
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ElectricPaladin

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Re: Pseudopod 402: The Recovery
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2014, 09:00:00 AM »
This was a classic example of a high-quality Pseudopod story. It was strange, creepy, disturbing, and understated. I enjoyed it immensely. That sense of "there's a story going on here, but it's not your story" heightened the sense of alienation. The reading, of course, was brilliant. Well done all around.
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Moritz

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Re: Pseudopod 402: The Recovery
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2014, 08:38:09 AM »
Had to listen to it twice and didn't get it.

ElectricPaladin

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Re: Pseudopod 402: The Recovery
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2014, 10:22:04 AM »
Had to listen to it twice and didn't get it.

There's nothing to get! Sometimes horrible things are going on and they're not about the narrator, so we never understand them. Isn't it fantastic!
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Unblinking

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Re: Pseudopod 402: The Recovery
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2014, 07:28:21 AM »
I don't get it.  I hear what ElectricPaladin's saying, but if there's nothing to get it's not my kind of story I guess.

Sgarre1

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Re: Pseudopod 402: The Recovery
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2014, 08:05:37 AM »
I wouldn't put it as "there's nothing to get".  Let's say "the concerns of the village" and "the concerns of the main character" only align in a certain way.

I am more than willing to accept that some stories are not the best fit for audio - putting out stories like these (or "Red Rubber Gloves") is, in some sense, an experiment.  Experiments about what approaches to genre fiction work best in audio on one hand and also experiments in stretching or deforming audience expectations on the other.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2014, 11:08:02 AM by Sgarre1 »

Unblinking

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Re: Pseudopod 402: The Recovery
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2014, 08:13:48 AM »
I wouldn't put it as "there's nothing to get".  Let's say "the concerns of the village" and "the concerns of the main character" only align in a certain way.

I am more than willing to accept that some stories are not the best fit for audio - putting stories like these (or "Red Rubber Gloves") are, in some sense, experiments.  Experiments about what approaches to genre fiction work best in audio on one hand and also experiments in stretching or deforming audience expectations on the other.

For me personally I don't think that either story would necessarily work better for me in text.  My tastes, compared to some, are relatively simple and in the end I want a concrete and coherent story first and foremost and anything else wrapped around that is added value.  If it doesn't have that core, or what I recognize as that core, then I'm unlikely to be satisfied.  No publication satisfies me with every story, so this is not a big deal, really.  As long as there are some reasonable proportion stories that I can grasp in the way that I expect stories, then I'm fine with it.

I think that I liked Red Rubber Gloves better in audio than I would in text, for some definition of "like".  It's not that I really dug it as a story, but it had a lyrical quality that I found vaguely pleasant even as I failed to really get a narrative out of it.  I come every week hoping for a ballad and sometimes I get it, but sometimes I get a lullaby.  It's not that I can't recognize it as a good lullaby, it's just that I wanted a ballad.  And then sometimes I get what sounds to me like the discordant opening music of Seinfeld tv show which I'm not entirely certain is actually music at all.

The Far Stairs

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Re: Pseudopod 402: The Recovery
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2014, 04:36:35 PM »
For me personally I don't think that either story would necessarily work better for me in text.  My tastes, compared to some, are relatively simple and in the end I want a concrete and coherent story first and foremost and anything else wrapped around that is added value.  If it doesn't have that core, or what I recognize as that core, then I'm unlikely to be satisfied.  No publication satisfies me with every story, so this is not a big deal, really.  As long as there are some reasonable proportion stories that I can grasp in the way that I expect stories, then I'm fine with it.

I think that I liked Red Rubber Gloves better in audio than I would in text, for some definition of "like".  It's not that I really dug it as a story, but it had a lyrical quality that I found vaguely pleasant even as I failed to really get a narrative out of it.  I come every week hoping for a ballad and sometimes I get it, but sometimes I get a lullaby.  It's not that I can't recognize it as a good lullaby, it's just that I wanted a ballad.  And then sometimes I get what sounds to me like the discordant opening music of Seinfeld tv show which I'm not entirely certain is actually music at all.

Well said! I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt nonplussed by this one. I listened to it when I was really sick, and I thought maybe I'd missed something.

I do love atmospheric tales where strange things happen but never get resolved; however, something about the style of this one put me off. Maybe it was the "literary" tone that made me think I should be grasping some deeper meaning that wasn't actually there. The things the author was saying about villages and murder mysteries sounded important, but I couldn't get a handle on what he was actually talking about. It seemed muddy and kind of condescending, like, "You should be getting this, but maybe there's nothing to get, but maybe THAT'S what you should be getting..."

I'm like, "idk, man."
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albionmoonlight

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Re: Pseudopod 402: The Recovery
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2014, 07:45:19 PM »
I am now slightly more creeped out by other guests in hotels than I was before I listened to this story.