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Author Topic: PC389: Old Foss is the Name of His Cat  (Read 2644 times)
Talia
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« on: November 11, 2015, 10:54:13 PM »

PodCastle 389: Old Foss is the Name of His Cat

by David Sandner

read by Graeme Dunlop


It was first published in the anthology Clockwork Phoenix 1 (Mythic Delrium, 2008). It was reprinted in Ellen Datlow’s Tails of the Imagination (Night Shade, 2010).

The rain wept against the glass as Old Foss watched impassively behind the window. The Old Man ran back and forth across the cobbled street, his long white nightshirt soaked and clinging to his ungainly frame, his paunched belly and skinny pale legs. His long bedraggled beard leaked, sloughing off water when he shook his head and bellowed: “Where is my Jumbly Girl?” The Old Man knocked on every door he came to, but no one answered for they knew the old Englishman too well.

At first, when the fugues came on, the locals had only shaken their heads at him, then argued with him in broken English or too fluent Italian, especially when the rain came up fast. They pushed him towards the villa he and Old Foss rented; but when the confusion came upon him he would only look at them uncomprehendingly, or look at their doors long after they had shut them with the oddest expression of thwarted desire, then he would wander away again and knock on another wrong door. For no one could see the Jumblies but him and Old Foss. None could know of his time with his Jumbly Girl but Old Foss and himself. Old Foss and he is how it should be for the Jumbly girl would bring him only death for all her promises. Why couldn’t he see that, Old Foss thought crossly, twitching his tail, and was is really so much as all that to love a Jumbly Girl?


Rated PG.

David Sandner is a writer of weirdpunk and a scholar whose work has been nominated for Mythopoeic Awards. His website is davidsandner.com but he is currently blogging on the SF at CSUF site through the 2016 Philip K. Dick Conference, April 29-30, to be held on his campus at Cal State Fullerton. Follow the link to learn more and to take part in the conference, and to read about sf, including the library’s special collection holdings on PKD, at CSUF. David is marketing a mystery novel about Mary Shelley called The Triumph of Death.

Brief article about Old Foss.

Read The Jumblies.

Read The Owl and the Pussycat.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
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SpareInch
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« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2015, 09:14:36 AM »

I liked the way this story posed the question, was Lear, the character in this story, that is, senile, or simply able to perceive things that really were invisible to other people.

I have to confess, all I knew of Lear, the real one, that is, was The Owl and The Pussycat, but it didn't stop me from following the story.

Strangely, I listened to this podcast over breakfast, then, wanting some company while I did the dishes, I put on an audio book, a travelog which actually started with the back cover copy from the print edition, in which it mentioned that the book would be following in the footsteps of many historical figures, including Byron and, coincidentally, Lear.

Kind of spooky.

Also, I have often suspected that cats can get out of locked rooms by themselves, and only come mewing at me to be annoying. This story just proves me right.

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Not-a-Robot
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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2015, 03:18:10 PM »

This, Where Monsters Dance, Wet, The Truth About Owls, The Half Dark Promise, So Inflamed..., Pod Castle is on an absolute hot streak with stories and readers!
« Last Edit: November 12, 2015, 03:25:05 PM by Not-a-Robot » Logged
Not-a-Robot
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« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2015, 03:23:18 PM »

I really like this story.  The nonsensical blended with the plot of the story creating a perfect emulsion of the real and the surreal.  I didn't like the end, because, frankly I wanted to see the Man and Voss win, but that's just not how it happens.  Sad but true.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2015, 02:52:37 AM by Not-a-Robot » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2015, 05:10:58 PM »

... I wanted to see the Man and Voss win, but that's just not how it happens.  Sad but true.

I'm not completely sure that they lost.  Sad but true.

I loved the explanation of why cats chase the invisible in the middle of the night.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2015, 10:10:03 AM »

I love nonsense poems and rhymes, I'm most familiar with Lewis Caroll and I have heard the poem at the end with the runcible spoon.  Usually stories that hit on dementia connect solidly with me after losing a few grandparents to Alzheimer's.

For some reason this one just didn't connect with me, even though I felt like I should've been the target audience.  I had trouble immersing in it, and I'm really not sure why.
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BoojumsRCool
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« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2015, 05:45:42 PM »

Thank you PodCastle! The the combination of David's wonderful story and Graeme's well done narration gave me a half hour of awesomeness today.
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Dwango
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« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2015, 03:00:35 PM »

Just a wonderful tale.  It took a bit to get into it, but the friendship of the cat and Lear really was a fascinating one.  The question of how one dies, and who should choose the when and how of it added some depth to the flightful tale.  Who should say he shouldn't get his Jumbly girl, is he sane enough to make a choice.  In the end, the cat isn't sure what the right path was, and wonders if he missed something in the final decision.
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Spoonifolia
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« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2015, 01:55:39 AM »

One of my favorite Podcastles. Edward Lear's art is as old a friend to me as his poetry, and as soon as I heard Old Foss's name in the title I was hoping for something equally dear and whimsical, ungainly and wonderful. This story delivered, and Graeme's bittersweet reading was perfect.

One thing bothered me, though: Except for Foss, the focus of Lear's most cherished relationship -- the one he pined for like the artist pined for the Jumbly girl -- was another man. I know the artist in this story isn't supposed to match Lear in every respect, but I've seen enough queer historical figures de-queered in fiction to feel a little sad that this aspect of a very unconventional man was changed to something more conventional, expected, acceptable, both in his own time and ours.

Oh, I did love the ending for the Jumbly girl, though, surrounded by the comfort and consolation of the other Jumblies. And Foss's line about always being the old man's friend had me in tears even before the end, and I'm tearing up again typing this, dammit.

If ever a story could be worthy of a cat (though I doubt most cats would allow for that possibility), this is it.
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Varda
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« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2015, 08:48:30 AM »

Quote
One thing bothered me, though: Except for Foss, the focus of Lear's most cherished relationship -- the one he pined for like the artist pined for the Jumbly girl -- was another man. I know the artist in this story isn't supposed to match Lear in every respect, but I've seen enough queer historical figures de-queered in fiction to feel a little sad that this aspect of a very unconventional man was changed to something more conventional, expected, acceptable, both in his own time and ours.

I didn't know that about Lear! Fascinating insight, Spoonifolia -- thanks for dropping by, and sharing that. It adds a lot to my understanding of the story, and to Lear himself.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2015, 06:59:50 PM »

Okay, so I know nothing about Lear. This is possibly why I had to restart this story no fewer than three times. But wow, once I finally got it! I'm so glad I didn't give up on it. Smiley

I found the line to the effect of "Why can I sometimes hear you, and yet other times you're just a mute cat?" to be particularly haunting. He has this insight into a sideways world that is so special to him, but sometimes he's simply cut off from it. Combined with the poignant scene where she's come back for him but this time he can't see or hear her... so sad.
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TrishEM
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« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2015, 03:34:31 PM »

I loved everything about this story; even the sad ending felt right.
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adrianh
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« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2015, 03:41:34 AM »

Loved this one. I especially liked the lack of certainty Foss had about whether saving The Old Man the first time had been the right decision.

Although, like Spoonifolia, I found Lear becoming straight somewhat odd. Especially since the long unrequited relationship with Franklin Lushington felt like it would fit in well with the themes of separation & isolation in the story.

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