karen's Reviews > The End of the End of Everything

The End of the End of Everything by Dale Bailey
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bookshelves: free-tor-shorts, hey-shorty, the-end

this story is a kind of riff on The Masque of the Red Death. instead of the wealthy and titled thinking themselves safe from the plague behind fortified walls and having a big old party about it, here we have a group of aaaartists celebrating in the face of encroaching death; realizing its inevitability and thumbing their noses at it as they hold "suicide parties" where their death becomes a work of art itself, and one of their choosing.

the threat in this case is known as "ruin." it seems to be similar to "the nothing" in michael ende's The Neverending Story:

a wave of destruction creeping ever closer, withering everything in its path:

Ruin had lately devoured most of the city and it encroached on either side of the abandoned interstate: derelict cars rusting back to the elements, skeletal trees stark against a gray horizon, an ashen, baked-looking landscape, though no fire had burned there. In some places the road was all but impassable.

ben and his wife lois are visiting their more-successful friend stan and his new trophy wife mackenzie. ben is a poet, who has had some measure of success, but his accomplishments are dwarfed by stan's, with his oscars and much-younger model wife. there is some discomfort in the form of jealousy, and mixed feelings about stan's having cast off his old wife in favor of a younger model, but since the end is coming, the party mood prevails. the suicide party mood.

every night they all, including mackenzie's nine-year-old daughter cecilia, attend a party thrown at the beach home mansions of a different glittering artist, at the conclusion of which the host will off themselves in a showy way, to the applause of the gathered guests.

at one of these parties, ben meets a woman named victoria glass, who is a "mutilation artist." what she does is not dissimilar to this:

but in her case, the participants are always willing.

the story is not all spectacular bloodshed, though. it is similar to On the Beach in its casual reaction to the end of the world. there isn't any panic, and there is plenty of room for quiet meditations on marriage and fidelity and the necessity of art and truth and nipples.

because, yeah, there's plenty of this kind of stuff:

Her sheer dress blew back in some vagary of the wind, exposing her body so that he could see the weight of her breasts and the dark triangle of her sex. Another jolt of desire convulsed him and once again he turned away.

there are all these tedious sexual asides, as ben becomes aroused by many different women; by their nipples and pubic hair. because in the coming apocalypse, casual nudity is the way of things. and that shit just always bores me. i'm not a prude or anything (I Fucked the Puppet, anyone?) but you know how there are people who write sex scenes and they just make you wince? *koff* harry turtledove *koff.* i just didn't see the necessity of all the sexxiness, and it took away from the really interesting dark fantasy, which was lurid and sensationalist enough without these generic and clunky arousal scenes.

now, had it been a "the world is ending, let's all bang" orgy situation, i would totally understand and say "yes, that is a scenario that would happen." but while some characters do indeed embrace the "what happens in apocalypse stays in apocalypse" attitude, the things i am icky at are not these scenes, but just two people talking and suddenly there is a nipple. and staring. and arousal.

it was just tonally off, to me, in the midst of this very strong story about art and defiance and cruelty.

but overall, a really interesting story, and another great tor freebie. and because the illustrations on these are so amazing, and not as impressive when they are just in that tiny bookcover size:


link to read it yourself: http://www.tor.com/stories/2014/04/th...
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Comments Showing 1-27 of 27 (27 new)

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Alita Jade Martin Hi Karen are u a good person or bad preson

Alita Jade Martin Helllli

karen Alita Jade Martin wrote: "Hi Karen are u a good person or bad preson"

i am a pretty good person

message 4: by Private (new)

Private what the hell

message 5: by Julio (new)

Julio Genao bummer about the missteps. that sounds like it could have been a really great story.

message 6: by Debbie "DJ" (new)

Debbie "DJ" Loved the image front Hannibal! Too bad so many nipples, may have given it a shot. What a good person you are to have forewarned. :)

karen it's probably not as nipply as all that - it is just something i was struck by. now i am worried that i am turning people away based on my own aversion to a fairly widespread kind of generic sex-writing.

quick - someone else read it!

message 8: by Sarah (new)

Sarah The central woman on the cover sort of looks like a big boob, with a very red nipple.

message 9: by Debbie "DJ" (new)

Debbie "DJ" Sorry, nipple, nipple, nipple...hehehe

message 10: by Baluka (new)

Baluka I agree. It does look like that.

karen hahahaha now i can never unsee that.

message 12: by Leslie (new)

Leslie "now, had it been a "the world is ending, let's all bang" orgy situation, i would totally understand and say "yes..."

^^ Makes me laugh every time.

karen i know how the world goes...and it's always "orgy, orgy, orgy"...

message 14: by Steven (new)

Steven pretentious title. another pretentious title i ran into recently: the unknown known. blegh.

message 15: by Erica (new)

Erica I keep seeing this cover popping up on the GR banner and I'm all, "Hmm. I love that cover. It's so pretty and so wrong. I wonder what this book is about?"
Now I know.
Rainbow shooting star goes here.

karen doo dooo doooo DOOOOOOOOO

message 17: by Kate (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kate I just read it because of your review. I liked the concept very much. The nipple part was not a big deal for me. I thought it was pretty pretentious, though.

message 18: by Kate (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kate Also, I have to thank you for introducing me to tor. I'm enjoying finding stories on here.

karen it's great, right?? glad to help!

message 20: by Austin Mahone (new)

Austin Mahone Hello Katy and Karen! I'm Olaf

Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)* I didn't realise you'd read this one.... I was all hah I read something Karen didn't... but now I must take my hah back.... sadness :( but not really. Veronica Glass's art fascinated me.... in a gross omfg way...

karen i am a sneaky reader!

message 24: by Miriam (new)

Miriam I missed this review but found it while checking to see if Victo Ngai had ever illustrated a book! Fortuity!

karen indeed! is that an artist i should know? besides this cover?

message 26: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Er, not for any reason I'm aware of. She did a couple illustrations recently that I liked, for magazines, so I was just looking.

karen ah, gotcha!

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