Drabblecast 248 - The Cockroach Hat

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StalinSays
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Drabblecast 248 - The Cockroach Hat

Post by StalinSays » Sat Jul 07, 2012 7:51 pm

Feature: The Cockroach Hat by Terry Bisson
Drabble: First Date by Andrew Morgan

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Friday, July 6th, 2012
“What I don’t like about it,” said Cliffe, “is that is it’s just a metaphor instead of something real.”

“What if it was real?” I (Sam) asked. “What if it was me and I actually turned into a cockroach someday?”


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Twabble: “ Four of the subjects died only a few days after being exposed to the virus. The last was immune, so I had to kill him myself. ” by TroyStJames
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Re: Drabblecast 248 - The Cockroach Hat

Post by Unblinking » Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:03 pm

A fun, weird, bizarre story with completely unexplained happenings, but which uses them in a very entertaining way. I've not actually read the original Kafka story, but have heard it referenced enough to know the basic idea. I laughed quite a bit, especially with the final line that they forgot to step on the baby. Also, the idea that a hat made out of random materials around the house could make an entire person look like a giant cockroach (6 legs and all) was bizarre and fun.

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Re: Drabblecast 248 - The Cockroach Hat

Post by tbaker2500 » Tue Jul 10, 2012 3:32 pm

I've not read any Kafka. Therefore I can only imagine that this story's stylings are drawn directly from him.
A very weird piece, light and quirky. I enjoyed it.
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Christi
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Re: Drabblecast 248 - The Cockroach Hat

Post by Christi » Tue Jul 10, 2012 6:23 pm

I really enjoyed this story, I stopped trying to understand it and just took it at face value. But I cant help thinking that I have missed an important "metafore". That I should be able to draw some sort of valuable life lesson from this. :?

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Re: Drabblecast 248 - The Cockroach Hat

Post by strawman » Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:29 pm

Christi wrote: I have missed an important "metafore".
"Metafores" is what writers yell when their first sentence misses the fairway.
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Re: Drabblecast 248 - The Cockroach Hat

Post by Farseeker » Fri Jul 13, 2012 2:29 pm

What the bloody hell was that?

Other than the "Mongolian deathworm", this was the only Drabblecast story that I can recalling wanting desperately to stop listening to. Again and again I felt annoyed enough to consider just stopping the playback, and when the end finally came I breathed "Thank God".

Terry Bisson's name was familiar to me, though I couldn't quite recall why. When I checked out his web site and saw that he was the author of the short "Meat" I broke into a broad grin. Of course!

So I know he can do better than this.

This reads like a 6th grader's "write a short story" homework. One unexplained and unexplainable occurrence after another, no character development, no cohesion other than everything had to do with turning into cockroaches. It's barely a story, more a set of disconnected nonsensical vignettes. I half expected it to end with "...and then he woke up. It was only a dream!"

Now, again, Bisson is a writer of some talent, so I have to assume that this style was a deliberate choice and execution. But I have no idea what he was trying to accomplish, and for me it completely failed, leaving me wanting to run from the room to escape the inanity. Which I'm really glad I didn't do, because I was listening in the car.

Please, Norm, no more like this.
I never could get the hang of Thursdays.

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Re: Drabblecast 248 - The Cockroach Hat

Post by Unblinking » Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:28 pm

Farseeker wrote:What the bloody hell was that?
Now, again, Bisson is a writer of some talent, so I have to assume that this style was a deliberate choice and execution. But I have no idea what he was trying to accomplish, and for me it completely failed, leaving me wanting to run from the room to escape the inanity. Which I'm really glad I didn't do, because I was listening in the car.
I think you're right, that he was trying to affect a particular style. Have you read the Kafka story this story refers to? I assume this was meant to be a comedic version of that. But I haven't read it, so I can't say for sure.

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Re: Drabblecast 248 - The Cockroach Hat

Post by normsherman » Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:59 pm

Kafka's The Metamorphosis, definitely worth a read! http://www.gutenberg.org/files/5200/5200-h/5200-h.htm
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Re: Drabblecast 248 - The Cockroach Hat

Post by Douglas Hackle » Sun Jul 15, 2012 4:16 am

Farseeker wrote:What the bloody hell was that? . . .
Yeah, I wasn't all that keen on this one myself, though I'm a big fan of the Kafka novella.

On a related and cheerier note, I'll say that Bissom's "Bears Discover Fire," which coincidentally happens to be the first story I listened to at the drabblecast, still ranks as one of my favorites out of everything I've listened to on the site so far.

http://www.drabblecast.org/2012/01/26/d ... over-fire/

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Re: Drabblecast 248 - The Cockroach Hat

Post by tbaker2500 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 5:00 am

Ooooh, he did Bear. That was a hugely strange story.
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Re: Drabblecast 248 - The Cockroach Hat

Post by Polecat » Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:52 am

normsherman wrote:Kafka's The Metamorphosis, definitely worth a read! http://www.gutenberg.org/files/5200/5200-h/5200-h.htm
Farseeker wrote:What the bloody hell was that?
I agree with both comments - usually I try to operate on the "If you can't say anything good...don't say anything" principle, but I really didn't enjoy this story - Kafka's story (which has an antecedent in Ovid's philosophical codification of Greek mythology, also worth reading if one can find the time: http://classics.mit.edu/Ovid/metam.html) is about human response to alienation, and could be seen as a kind of "proto-existentialist manifesto". "The cockroach hat" is about... what? it seems to me to be a stream-of-consciousness series of events which may hang together in the authors mind, but produced no resonances in mine. Don't get me wrong - I like absurdity and silliness; the recent "A nice jewish golem" definitely tickled my synapses. The difference, I think, is that Ms. Au-Hui took a series of recognizable cliches and subverted them to create an absurdist parody, Mr. Bisson merely created an absurd narrative with nothing I could relate to, leaving me the feeling that someone was forcing me to listen to their highly personal dream, in which I had no interest. Possibly, not being a great consumer speculative fiction, I simply missed the references and misunderstood the narrative, but judging by the other responses here, I suspect not.

respectfully,

the polecat

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Re: Drabblecast 248 - The Cockroach Hat

Post by Bad Wolf » Sun Jul 15, 2012 8:21 pm

This story was like someone trying to bludgeon you into laughing with stale chunk of symbolism. It was awkward, somewhat painful and it made a mess in the kitchen.
I am the Bad Wolf. I create myself. I take the words, I scatter them in time and space. A message to lead myself here.

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Re: Drabblecast 248 - The Cockroach Hat

Post by strawman » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:49 pm

Bad Wolf wrote:This story was like someone trying to bludgeon you into laughing with stale chunk of symbolism. It was awkward, somewhat painful and it made a mess in the kitchen.
I must say I didn't care for this one so much. But I am impressed by the quality of the criticism.
I studied English, submitted hundreds of papers, and spent tens of thousands of other people's money getting a degree, and never once did anyone who judged my work comment as thoughtfully as Bad Wolf has done for free here.

Norm should think about establishing Drabblecast University.

[I see Miskatonic U is taken (http://www.miskatonic-university.org/).]
Never judge anyone until you have biopsied their brain.

"Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle."
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Spoiler:
Non sum qualis eram = "I am not who I will be"

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Re: Drabblecast 248 - The Cockroach Hat

Post by Richmazzer » Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:49 pm

Well, obviously I'm going to disagree with anyone who also didn't like Mongolian Deathworm. :)

This one was cute and had some laugh out loud moments for me. A lenient parody of Kafka's style, literalizing the cliches in our lives (our kids are pests! our parents sometimes want to kill us and vice versa!) I thought the narrator did a good job passing off twisted humor as deadpan and every day, which seems to be the most important part of this one.

I can see how the story just seems thrown together and random to some, especially since for a weird fiction podcast there actually aren't that many surrealist pieces here. I think it's about mindset though, and maybe if Norm had framed it in the intro differently (no offense Normster, you're my fav!) it would have been received differently to some listeners. That said, a story should be able to stand on its own, and that said, some people still just might not dig the silly and surreal, even in context.

"By midafternoon, I was normal. That is, human and full-sized" ... perfect story quote and Drabblecast anthem.

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