Pseudopod 002: Good Advice

By Richard E. Dansky.

Read by Matthew Wayne Selznick.

“You got beaten up a lot as a kid, didn’t you?”

That’s what Jerry Brower asked me, and the entire Central Carolina Writers’ Workshop burst into nervous laughter.

I looked up from the short sketch I’d been reading from and turned to face my questioner. Jerry Brower sat at the end of the table, down past a gauntlet of laughing faces. He, at least, wasn’t laughing, and for that I was silently, desperately grateful. I nodded to him, slowly.

He nodded back. The laughter stopped.

01
August 25th, 2006 2:15 am

Sorry this was a few minutes late. If you grabbed this file before about 2:00am today (8/25), you probably got a slightly corrupted file. If you download it now you’ll get one that sounds a lot better. Technical issues on our end — shouldn’t happen again.

02
Adolfo
August 25th, 2006 6:20 pm

For this one I’d say “Meh.”

I usually love what Mur and Escapepod have to offer but this one just didn’t get me.

I think the music for this podcast is a little flat and bland as well.

I do like the podcast and love Mur’s prelude to the stroy and quip at the end.

03
August 25th, 2006 7:49 pm

I saw the ending comming, but not exactly the way it was presented–I expected the protagonist to strike at someone random, not at someone he knew. Still, not bad.

04
August 26th, 2006 4:58 am

Faultless reading (really, MWS is in danger of being ‘typecast’ as the number 1 teenage-angst reader).

As for the story — well written and utterly convincing. Until the end. I just didn’t believe the character would do that. And as the ending was the only thing that qualified the story as horror, I felt a bit…let down.

05
August 26th, 2006 5:08 pm

heh heh heh…fantastic.

Maybe this wasn’t horror in the strictest sense, but it was a brilliant little exercise in black humour. And great portrait of the psychology of status as well. Brilliant.

06
Jason
August 28th, 2006 9:20 am

I thought this story was excellent. Just knowing it was supposed to be a horror story really added to it, too. I was listening to it, and thinking, is the guy going to totally shoot him down? Is he going to steal his story? As an aspiring writer myself (Alright, Im still in high school, but Ive started submitting, so…) a lot of this story seemed really scary to me, in that kind of empathetically horrifying way, but I could sort of tell that what was scary for me might not be that scary to everyone… Brilliant writing, regardless.

07
August 30th, 2006 12:05 am

I enjoyed the story, although I was wondering what the horror element was, until the end.

I was wondering if the famous author would turn out to be some sort of psychic vampire the stole creativity or some such from promising authors in his seminars.

But maybe I just watch too much star trek.

08
August 30th, 2006 8:09 am

Thanks for the comments, folks. I really enjoyed the reading that Matthew gave the story. If you’re interested, there’s an essay on the genesis of the piece up over at http://www.storytellersunplugged.com/2006/08/better-fiction-through-adolescent.html

09
September 1st, 2006 12:51 am

Thanks for your kind words, Richard! I’ve encouraged my own readers and listeners to contact you with their comments about the story, as well.

And Paul… if you’re worried about my being typecast… wait until you hear “Light of the Outsider,” mister! 180 degrees!

10
Kyla
September 4th, 2006 10:00 am

Actually, I felt the horror element all the way through. I mean, part of it was that it was on a horror podcast, so I knew there was something coming, but throughout the entire thing there was just this air of, I don’t know, mental instability and fragility, if that makes any sense.

I liked it

11
Philip Gaitan
September 7th, 2006 4:05 pm

I agree with many here. I thought the story was great, but personally, there was nothing horror about it. Again, great work, I just didn’t feel that it fit the genere. My $0.02.

Phil

12
Simon
September 7th, 2006 6:21 pm

This isn’t very good, sorry. It’s well crafted, but it falls pretty badly into the writing about writing box.

Orson Scott Card (SF’s most rightwing master writing teacher) put a pretty long piece on writing horror about writing in his book “The Changed Man And The King Of Words” in which he basically said “This can be really intrusive, and distracts the reader from the story by reminding them of its structure” and I felt this summed this up completely. Steven King of course is ALWAYS writing about writing, but his stories are unusually immersive so he can get away with derailing it a bit (although in Misery it gets fucking irritating).

Unfortunately tho, while this is really well crafted, I found it impossible to become involved in the story because it was too intertwined with the structure – You kept asking yourself how the “lessons” we were being told applied to the story itself.

Great reading tho.

13
Alasdair
September 20th, 2006 9:15 am

Great:) A wonderful combo of spot on social commentary and what happens when we go too far to make our work authentic. Loved it:)

14
scatterbrain
March 23rd, 2008 8:50 pm

I agree with Adolfo: “Meh.”

Not enough horror for a horror story.

15
Mari Mitchell
March 25th, 2008 6:07 pm

My son is off playing and can hear without earphones. Rare treat. I have filled with Pseudopod.

I post, to not only let you know what I think, such as it is, but to mark what I have listened to.

Man to hear that from a teacher… A dream of dream.

I understand writer too.

I loved who read this.

I was pretty sure the writer was going to off someone. You often hear “write what you know” it took me a while to know what the heck that meant.

Now I spend happy hours of reading bits of information. Sometimes I feel like a magpie, although I am sure that most magpies do not gather what I do. And those that do, I am either like or I should worry about. Now, to tell the difference between them before…

I like my horror more supernatural feel. So for me this one is not a home run, but it was not a disagreeable time either.

16
Camphor
December 28th, 2008 2:59 am

I didn’t like it. I’m looking for horror, not a story about a writer.

17
RebeccaAnn
June 16th, 2009 3:27 pm

I admit I didn’t like this story as much as The Bag Man, but I still enjoyed it a lot. I agree with Kyla. I felt the narrator’s mindset to be quite frightening and a bit unstable and for me, I’m not too bothered by the writing about writing. I didn’t see the end coming, either, which the made all the more fantastic!