Escape Artists

News:

News

ATTENTION: NEW FORUM THEME Please see here for details: http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=13188.0

Author Topic: PC414: The Men From Narrow Houses  (Read 3599 times)

Talia

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2682
  • Muahahahaha
on: May 03, 2016, 03:24:22 PM
PodCastle 414: The Men from Narrow Houses

by A. C. Wise

read by Rachael K. Jones


This story first appeared in Liminal Stories. Check out their debut issue here!

The men from narrow houses have smiles like melon rinds, white slices of apple, the sliver of the moon before it disappears. Their clothes smell like earth, and their eyes shine like old coins – copper, silver, and gold. As the wedding draws closer, Gabby begins to see them during the day. They pluck at her with long fingers, like a hard wind worrying at her clothes. They slide around her in subway cars on her way to work; they ride behind her on the elevator on her way to the fifth floor; they lean over her shoulder as she studies spreadsheets on her computer; they dangle their legs over her cubicle wall. They are like reflections on water, always whispering, Tell us, love, tell us everything you’ve seen. You’ve been gone for so long.

Rated PG-13.

A.C. Wise’s work has appeared in Clarkesworld, Shimmer, Apex, and The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2015, among other places. Her debut collection, The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again, was published by Lethe Press in 2015. In addition to her fiction, so co-edits Unlikely Story, and contributes a monthly Women to Read column to SF Signal. Find her online at www.acwise.net.


Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: May 24, 2016, 06:01:51 PM by Talia »



Dwango

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 165
Reply #1 on: May 04, 2016, 03:53:19 PM
Hmmm, another fox becomes woman story?  And it is related to a marriage as well.  Is this a common theme or a fable?  There was an Asian themed story a while back on Podcastle about a fox who becomes a woman to be forced into a marriage, and I believe another on Escape Pod where a monster hunter befriends a woman who becomes a wolf, until they move into the future where it transforms her into a sci fi robotic wolf.

I liked the language in the story, especially the many ways to describe a smile, lemon rinds, apple slices, sliver of moons.  The men remind me of Jack from the Nightmare Before Christmas, only brown and dirty.  The question of who Maggie is haunts the story in the language.  It did feel a bit long though, waiting for the final resolution through smaller reveals, like a kind of strip tease.

The marriage appears to be a negative force, an unwanted event.  She sees the men more as the marriage gets near, so she appears to be getting more anxious about it.  The language becomes more mundane where ever Fred is involved.  She finds it dull, and it is so hard to say if it is not reality in her life and the rest is a fantasy in her head or real.  Is she escaping one trap to replace it with another?  Or is she using the marriage and Fred to make her escape.  I wonder if she was choosing the adventure of her old life, despite the dangers, over what she sees a a boring safe place.  In the end she is moving from one kind of need to another kind of need, neither being an ideal situation, very similar in many ways.  There was a lot of hazy parts to the story, where we don't find out what certain imagery means.  As Graham noted in the outtro, its a dreamlike state.  You don't feel as if you ended the piece, more like you woke up from it, groggy and slightly confused, only getting the gist of the dream as it slowly melts from your mind.




Lionman

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 148
  • Next time, I'll just let sleeping dogs lie.
    • The Practice of IT.
Reply #2 on: May 09, 2016, 08:06:40 PM
This story, it's a shoe.

Seriously.  I couldn't get through the story, I had to turn it off.  I think this is only the 2nd PodCastle/EscapePod that I've ever had to just quit listening to.

My comment is now a Whip-poor-will.

Failure is an event, not a person.


Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8727
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #3 on: May 12, 2016, 02:03:41 PM
I found a lot of the imagery here really striking, especially the description of the magic tricks, the deck of cards becoming ranks of thin men who are really one man spread out, her transformation into a fox, that sort of thing.

But, overall, I found I couldn't really follow this one.  I'm not opposed to dreamlike feel but for me this went too far in that direction--it felt like actual dreams I have, filled with striking images but in the end more of a freaky interesting slideshow than a narrative. 




Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8727
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #4 on: May 12, 2016, 02:07:39 PM
Hmmm, another fox becomes woman story?  And it is related to a marriage as well.  Is this a common theme or a fable?  There was an Asian themed story a while back on Podcastle about a fox who becomes a woman to be forced into a marriage, and I believe another on Escape Pod where a monster hunter befriends a woman who becomes a wolf, until they move into the future where it transforms her into a sci fi robotic wolf.

It appears to be related to Japanese folklore involving foxes.  From the Wikipedia page for "kitsune"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitsune
Quote
Kitsune are commonly portrayed as lovers, usually in stories involving a young human male and a kitsune who takes the form of a human woman.[67] The kitsune may be a seductress, but these stories are more often romantic in nature.[68] Typically, the young man unknowingly marries the fox, who proves a devoted wife. The man eventually discovers the fox's true nature, and the fox-wife is forced to leave him. In some cases, the husband wakes as if from a dream, filthy, disoriented, and far from home. He must then return to confront his abandoned family in shame.

It's possible that there are other roots as well, but that was the first one that came up on a search for "foxwife" and it seems like a reasonable explanation for why there are quite a few stories about it.  :)




zoanon

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 138
Reply #5 on: May 12, 2016, 11:39:14 PM
almost an hour of vague dreamy words is a big ask.
its not a bad story, it just feels unnecessary.



Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8727
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #6 on: May 13, 2016, 02:59:04 PM
its not a bad story, it just feels unnecessary.

Aren't all stories unnecessary?



Fenrix

  • Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 3899
  • I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
Reply #7 on: May 13, 2016, 04:03:22 PM
This was definitely a prose poem, particularly considering the "chorus" theme repeated throughout. The Men in the story seemed to be given form from subconscious nightmare, such as Slenderman for the kids these days, or something like The Gentlemen from the Hush episode of Buffy. And (after someone else pointed it out) I can see their many versions were birthed from the tarot cards.

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


zoanon

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 138
Reply #8 on: May 13, 2016, 09:17:05 PM
its not a bad story, it just feels unnecessary.

Aren't all stories unnecessary?

that's one point of view  ;)
to clarify I guess, it wont stick with me, I could have spent the time doing something else. 



aliceingoreland

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Reply #9 on: May 19, 2016, 10:53:15 PM
I think the listeners may liked the story more if hadn't been so vague, which made it feel like its only purpose was to explore language and imagery and that were framed in a story. It was lovely to listen too but I was unsatisfied.




Devoted135

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1252
Reply #10 on: May 21, 2016, 06:49:19 PM
I had a hard time with this one as well. The imagery describing things kept changing, because things/people took different forms in different portions of the narrative. I think that to really appreciate this one I would need to read it so that I could really make all the connections. By the very end I could fuzzily see that this story would reward that effort, but I haven't been able to go back to it yet.



Not-a-Robot

  • Guest
Reply #11 on: June 03, 2016, 07:52:42 PM
Hmm...

Many negative comments on this one. I'm not so sure they're deserved. Yes, there were parts when the descriptions got a sliver too repetitive (the eyes and the smiles), and I would have liked a little more focus at the end. But the prose were fun in many parts, and that's one of the reasons I read.



Aliquid Novi

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Reply #12 on: July 17, 2016, 06:10:21 PM
The writing was beautiful and the imagery striking, but sadly it was too vague and unfocused for my taste. One of the few PodCastle stories I've given up on before reaching the end