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From: "Matthew Davis" 
Subject: Re: (urth) A Fish story
Date: Wed, 1 May 2002 23:25:00 +0100

> > "A Fish Story." Is the key to understanding this short short to be found
> > the name "Rob Salmon"? (Or something like that--can't find my F&SF with
> > story at the moment) I.e., do ghosts return to the place they're "born"
> I found this one pretty impenetrable myself.

My interpretation of "A Fish Story" is about the fear and denial of the
truth (the opening line points this out - "I've always been embarrassed by
the truth"); and that how even when you try to evade the truth it will still
come to haunt you. The crux of the story is Rab's insistence that his aunt
NOT tell him whether there's an afterlife. At the end of the story when his
friends lie to him by telling him, still that lie turns out to be true. And
if I remember correctly a fish story is normally a yarn or exaggerated lie -
a false and distancing form of communication. Rab doesn't want to
communicate (see the fact that he assumes that the hospital is only able to
contact him because the ghostly Rab gave them his phone number). At the
heart of the story lies Rab's less than sterling nature. He's constantly
trying to avoid facing up to the events that have happened to him, as a
child, as an adult, in his relationships with his friends and his family. At
the hospital, meeting up with his aunt, there is a moment of
self-recognition in how his aunt reflects all the things he's been trying to
escape. Rab has shut something out of his life. The vision he has of himself
unites both Rab's fear of the transcendent and also his knowledge of
whatever it is that he's lacking, resulting in this ghost of his better
self, the Rab that he isn't, throwing into sharp contrast the unpleasant Rab
that he is.

What to make of his name "Rab Sammon"? I don't know.

Anybody want to make this out as some sort of weird religious allegory (fish
in greek (icthys) = christ), please feel free. Rab as a sort of
anti-apostle, the religous revelation refused?


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