Monday, August 05, 2013

How To Talk To Girls At Parties, by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman's journal
I had never read Neil Gaiman before How To Talk To Girls At Parties, a short story I saw come up while I was reading about his new novel The Ocean At The End of The Lane. The only experience I really had with Gaiman's work was the Doctor Who episode he wrote, The Doctor's Wife (which was amazing.)

I'm not sure what I think about How to Talk to Girls at Parties.  Sometimes I felt like there were two different stories happening.  The first story was about the boys and going to parties to meet girls. Simple enough.  The other story was about these strange girls and what they were luring boys into.  There was this vibe the whole time I was reading the story, as though something was about to jump out of the closet.  It was an interesting tension.  I kept wondering if one or both the boys were going to die.

The story had some interesting quotes, things said by the girls Enn (the narrator) was talking to:

"But knowledge is there, in the meat," she said, "and I am resolved to learn from it."

"If you want. I am a poem, or I am a pattern, or a race of people whose world was swallowed by the sea."

"We knew that it would soon be over, and so we put it all into a poem, to tell the universe who we were, and why we were here, and what we said and did and thought and dreamed and yearned for. We wrapped our dreams in words and patterned the words so that they would live forever, unforgettable. Then we sent the poem as a pattern of flux, to wait in the heart of a star, beaming out its message in pulses and bursts and fuzzes across the electromagnetic spectrum, until the time when, on worlds a thousand sun systems distant, the pattern would be decoded and read, and it would become a poem once again."

Doesn't it sound like they might eat (or do some other awful thing to) Enn or his more confident friend Vic? Something happened to Vic, while Enn was talking with those girls.  I wish I knew what.

I also thought Enn's own narration was intriguing.

"Understand me, all the girls at that party, in the twilight, were lovely; they all had perfect faces but, more important than that, they had whatever strangeness of proportion, of oddness or humanity it is that makes a beauty something more than a shop window dummy."

"It's the strangest thing about poetry -- you can tell it's poetry, even if you don't speak the language."

If you haven't read Gaiman, this might be a good introduction. From this story and from what I've read about him (and from the Doctor Who episode), there is a definite strangeness to what he writes.  I might just read more of it.

Short Story Monday is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.


  1. Sounds like a story just begging for Freudian analysis!