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message 1: by Bunny (new)

Bunny | 327 comments So I offered to lead a discussion this week of:

"To Whatever" by Shaenon Garritty.


Something is living in Ethan's walls and stealing his half and half. It gets weirder from there.

To begin the discussion I point out that this is an epistolary story, ie a story told in the form of letters and other documents. This is an old form and I've often seen it used lately for humorous effect as it is here. Its fun for a number of reasons. One is that you can write from the point of view of several different characters in the same story, and play them off against one another.

What stands out for you about the way this story uses the epistolary form? Where does it work for you? Where does it fall down? Do you get a sense of the different characters from their different writing styles?

For example I nearly laughed out loud when the note from Willem showed up because his "voice" was just about exactly as douchey as I had imagined it.

If there are other topics you'd like to discuss please feel free to raise them as well. I will also pop in with other topics as the week continues.

message 2: by Bunny (new)

Bunny | 327 comments Well hmmm.

message 3: by Dan (new)

Dan | 13 comments I thought this was a totally fun read. Epistolary stories can be slow going, but I thought this moved along very well, and the author did an excellent job of communicating what happens 'between' the notes. I think the key to that is a combination of detail and relying on the reader's imagination, and in this instance it plays out quite well.

The humor really worked for me, and I thought it moved along at a good pace. I also liked the pompous Wilem voice, though the 'drunk'message didn't seem particularly important to the story.

Overall this was a fun read. Thanks for recommending it!

message 4: by Bunny (new)

Bunny | 327 comments Thanks for reading and commenting Dan! I'm really glad you enjoyed the humor, I did too. I like what you said about how the author did a good job of implying what had happened in the spaces between the notes.

message 5: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie I love humorous stories like this! I think the epistolary form works really well for humor, because the events of the story aren't all explicitly spelled out.

The character's voices and personality come through so well in the letters. Ethan's genuine care and friendship for the Cthulu in his walls was adorable.

message 6: by Bunny (last edited Aug 27, 2015 12:36PM) (new)

Bunny | 327 comments Thanks Stephanie. I got really worried about the Cthulu! I agree Ethan's care and friendship were sweet. I got a little crabby with him for being fooled by Willem but then I imagine Willem as being very good looking in a sort of romantic byronic poet sort of a way and Ethan got a little bit led astray by his hormones. I think that's part of what makes the story effective though, that we see through Willem before Ethan does, so that there's sn element of suspense when we realize Willem is up to no good, and will Ethan figure that out in time?

message 7: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 392 comments Mod
Hi! I thought this story was hilarious. I've been traveling all week, and just got back and I'm a little overwhelmed, but I'll catch up tomorrow I hope.

message 8: by Bunny (new)

Bunny | 327 comments Welcome back!!

message 9: by Bunny (last edited Aug 28, 2015 08:26PM) (new)

Bunny | 327 comments My purpose in contacting you is not, as you may fear or hope, to reopen our prior relationship. I think that well behind us. I must instead address your disturbing reaction to your discovery—and our subsequent less-than-fruitful discussion—of my thesis paper. To be brief—“Be brief, Willem!” I hear you, and any nameless reader who may by chance come across this correspondence in some future tome of scholarly letters of note, beg—....

Whether you believe it, my feelings toward you remain those of friendship—of friendly concern—of avuncular well-wishing—of regard. Knowing firsthand the grotesque magnetic pull of this place and its more squamous inhabitants, I fear for your psyche. Over the course of mere weeks I began to feel these uncanny effects, as well you know—and you, Ethan, have resided far longer than I. Nor is your mind as strong as mine, as honed by long study in the hard sciences to withstand affronts to Euclidean logic and to comprehend even the sublime. More than comprehend, but capture, dissect, and expose it to the disinfecting light of science! …But I digress.

What a prize jackass!! Who says he has an "avuncular" concern for someone he has dated? And that business about his mind honed on the hard sciences being stronger than Ethan's... He's such a sophomoric snob. For me the author perfectly captures a particular kind of immature and pretentious grad student that I've met more than once in the world.

message 10: by Sarah (last edited Aug 31, 2015 11:56AM) (new)

Sarah | 392 comments Mod
I loved the one-sidedness of the story. It's epistlatory, but all in reaction.

message 11: by Bunny (new)

Bunny | 327 comments Great point!

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