Category Archives: Fable

Fable: Read on May 24, 2016

I will fight anybody in a parking lot who doesn’t like this story.

Near the middle of this story we get a sort of stream of consciousness look inside how the main character feels when he’s in public with his disabled son. He feels them looking at him with sympathy, but not wanting to get too close; nobody wants to “catch” what they have. And he’s angry about it.

I started thinking about how we talk about people like the narrator and his wife as heroes, but look at what a toll it is, look at how it hurts them, look at how confused and angry they are. Yes, being a hero is hard – that’s a core role – but it’s not something we all really want. Do you, after reading this, feel you’re up to the challenge of the narrator and his wife? Slaying a dragon would be easier.

And that’s the fun here because we get all the fantasy trope style writing – mages and witches and maidens – but spin it to talk about what a heroic life is really all about. We fantasize about being heros, we watch TV about heroes and superheroes, but we never really think how hard it actually is, how unglamorous it is, how much of a toll it takes.

But we can empathize because these heros are just as fragile as the rest of us, just as self conscious, full of just as many dreams and failures.

And the story also deals with the lives we construct for ourselves. The narrator here tricks his maiden (in a very clever but cynical way) into marrying him, but it’s part of the story he’s trying to create for himself, a story he wants to believe in – and so it’s not fully cynical. Here the language of fantasy is used to parody a very serious thing we all do, to forge a reality for ourselves, and one that might not be what we planned on.

Then there’s the angle of how popular fantasy is (Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones) and how we want to escape this mundane, suburban world for something Tyler Durden would approve of from Fight Club, a world of action and meaning, not fake constructed lives of lawyers and contracts. Yet there’s a reason it’s called fantasy. And how well would we survive in that fantasy world? Could we really kill a dragon? Probably not. So we just try to get by.

There is also something between the lines here when he talks about never being as well off as the lords (the rich people who get promoted over him). We measure success in dollars and square footage, we see heroes as fabulous, but (and this is like a fable in the meaning of it), the real heros are regular people with extraordinary circumstances thrust upon them.

We need more fables, to be honest. I think we’ve lost the appetite for being told morality tales. Not that people long ago admired the morally appropriate people – we’ve always loved gossiping about the rich – but I feel we think being told what’s right is not something we need anymore, though we really do, and even more so as adults. A fable is not just for kids, because like the son here we are always children, we always need to learn, and we will always need guidance.

But more than just a fable, more than just the writer here using the old fantasy trope to juxtapose our modern struggles with epics of “lore”, is that this story is framed with the very real psychologist who is asking him to tell her his story. And he has a hard-time of it so he uses this language to try to wrap his brain around his life because he’s just an ordinary person who can’t find the words that a hero’s bard might have ready. And we all do this, we all rely on cliche language and saying to express how we feel, but they’re never good enough – those stories we give ourselves – because they’re for someone else, or at worst not genuine. And here the narrator is forced to tell his story in his words and he struggles to know who even he is, just like his son. Raymond Carver wrote about this very theme many times; here it’s just done more playfully but with no less talent.

There is some wonderful writing here, too. I loved how one of the first words (and probably one of not many more he’d ever know) is “sorry” because he heard it so much from his parents. That was heartbreaking and said more about that relationship and household than pages and pages of dialogue.

I also liked how there was a sort of hopefull ending, too. Of course a fable or fantasy story usually does and so it must here too, but because this story is so close to reality, so honestly sad (in the way reality is sad and lonely), that it gives us some hope leading back out, that not all is bleak and that even the worst can be endured, even if it will always be difficult.

This is not a cynical story, it’s realistic. It’s the most realistic fable I’ve ever read, and it’s wonderful.

90% done with Fable

The running as metaphor for time, while not new, feels new here in the dream, in the story of their making. “We don’t have to run” When we think of the future it’s a dream, a fable, but the sory does not go as planned and we have to be real. We are/not lords and heroes, we’re regular people doing whatever we can. And it’s scary and it’s not fair.

75% done with Fable

My God, what if someone disabled like that actualy knew it but couldn’t communicate and they started apoligizing? He’s dreaming now, the rotted bridge, the son speaking. He doesn’t want to dream, but he is, and it’s terrible.

65% done with Fable

We don’t ger her side, but you can imagine it’s just as hard for her. Jesus, that’s beautifully sad. Carving out the parts of their minds that made dreams and feeding it to the wild animals. Recalls the star as a dream that fell into her belly to give them the son.

50% done with Fable

That rage he feels when he gets angry at his son, that primal place the story uses as language (the fantasy language), the language of someone trying to smooth over how hard all this is, is the place he wants to live a more meaningful life. A place of dragons and heros is also more violent and not the sort of place you could raise a child with those sorts of needs, at least not as someone who is not a lord

30% done with Fable

I see him blacksmithing as an aggression, a primal release. Fire, metal, anger, heat, frustration, and release. Here being the hero, being the kind of person we call a hero for doing the right things, for raising a specil needs child, does not feel very heroic. In fact people pity the hero. And he works for non-heros who do much better financially then him, who might even be more satisfied.

20% done with Fable

Love how the kid’s frist words includes “sorry” because he heard it so much. So much said in just that one word. Whoever wrote this is very talented. Ohhh, that stream of consciouness passage, about people looking at them, about how he feels about being looked at, about whet he thinks they think, is very well done. Sad, too.

10% done with Fable

Slaying a sickly dragon no bigger than a fowl. Nice. On the flip-side, people “back then” were just like us so taking herbs to “self medicate” is not a new idea. We think we’re modern and new and different; we’re not. I like the image of the star that would forever hang in the sky as a symbol of them not being able to have children. Simple, but effective.

5% done with Fable

Reads like a New Yoker cartoon; so it’s sort of meta Wait, is this in a fantasy setting? Is this a satire on how the world we live in is so falsely constructed that it’s totally far removed from any important sort of life, one of action. Is this why fantasy is so popular, like Game of Thrones and such? People wanting a deeper meaning and satisfaction from life?