FIND in
<--prev V205 next-->
Date: Wed, 1 May 2002 09:18:13 -0700
From: Michael Andre-Driussi 
Subject: Re: (urth) Uncollected Wolfe

Adam Stephanides quoted Robert Borski and wrote:

>> "Petting Zoo." Agree with mantis to a point--the story does seem like a
>> Calvin-comes-of-age fable, except that the last paragraph also ominously
>> suggests that mankind no longer rules the Earth, robots do.
>I only read this once, and not closely, but I took the last paragraph as
>meaning that the Earth is now ruled by the nanny-state, which has tamed free
>and "wild" men like the protagonist had been as a child.  (I'm speaking from
>Wolfe's perspective, not my own.)

I could see these two elements (with thematic links back to "Eyebem"--I've
been reading ORBIT anthos in memory of Knight's passing) and also, since
this is the sort of Wolfe ending that "makes grown men weep and quiet women
reach for their shooting irons," I could see a third element, too. That is,
the "nanny" of nanny-bot and nanny-state.

>> "The Walking Sticks." Dave Hartwell, despite being kind enough to mention me
>> in the intro, gives away a plot element I would have preferred learning in
>> the story itself.
>Not that you don't see it coming a mile away.
>> Otherwise agree with Dr. Nick, in that it's rather
>> unoutstanding.
>"Unoutstanding" is putting it mildly.

I read Nick's review first.  IIRC, Nick felt that it is flawed in a
categorical sense: a mode or type, a narrative voice used in a group of
stories that Nick finds fake/grating/distracting.  Then later on I actually
read the story, and I thought it wasn't as bad as Nick had made out.  I
thought it was rather like "Redbeard," and I like that one okay.  Forgive
me!  There's no accounting for taste.  I probably like "The Walking Sticks"
better than, say, "Hour of Trust," but it will likely take years to tell.

I was surprised by the ending, actually--I didn't see it coming and still
don't see it as something from the original source text.  Nor do I see it
as a cop-out or a cheat (as the end of "Hour of Trust" sometimes seems to
me: at the very least, a bad splice), rather I saw it as an unexpected
angle, like how the end of "Bluesberry Jam" took a familiar story and put a
perfect twist on it.  Then again, it has been many years since I read the
source book, and the most recent thing about it that I read was
Sutherland's essay on the physique/physiology of Mr. H (I couldn't even say
what the possible answers were, too fuzzy--especially with the inclusion of
movie versions), so it may be that it all springs from there (the source
text).  (But it seems to me to be much more like M.R. James--oh yes,
another book which fell into my path in the last few months, GHOST STORIES
OF AN ANTIQUARY.  James and his architecture!  So strong that it might even
push John Crowley entirely out of "The Haunted Boardinghouse"--it was M.R.
James again!  And all that architecture in "Hour of Trust"?)

I might even like "The Walking Sticks" better than "Eleventh City" and "A
Traveler in Desert Lands."  In fact yes, I do--go figure!

But I don't like any of them as much as "Petting Zoo."


booklets on Gene Wolfe, John Crowley
26 Lexicons left until OP!


<--prev V205 next-->