Let's Discuss A Short Story-The Husband Stitch

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Postby Catullus » Sat Jan 27, 2018 4:50 pm

I'm going to put a general warning that there are some uncomfortable scenes and moments in this, and that it has sexual imagery etc.

https://granta.com/the-husband-stitch/

I've never read it before and I am still not over it. I love it and yet it made me feel wildly uncomfortable and yet its familiar at the same time.

Somehow it captures something about being a woman that I don't know that I've seen before. It's very cis-focused, and white, though there's something to it that serves as a critique of that.

I somehow like that I know the ending of the story and yet it still comes as a cruel surprise in a way.

I'd love to hear people's takes.
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Postby Catullus » Sat Jan 27, 2018 4:58 pm

I CANT HAVE MORE THREADS WITH NO REPLIES THIS STORY IS ACTUALLY GOOD
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Postby big zorb » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:01 pm

oh whoa i remember this. it's a really fantastic story. the control in the writing i remember thinking was really remarkable--there are a million places where it would be easy to lose control of the narrative/tone/voice/themes but she doesn't. she holds it all together. excellent stuff.
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Postby Catullus » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:05 pm

I think it's just that the writing immediately feels slightly dangerous and yet familiar. I can tell what you mean by controlled. It's like no part of it is unnecessary and all of it advances to fold together nicely, which is kind of a rarity in writing.

The pay off is both heartbreaking and also you get this sense of righteous anger that makes you want to share it, so naturally that makes it something I love because ya'll know I love being angry for righteous reasons heh
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Postby big zorb » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:07 pm

Catullus wrote:I think it's just that the writing immediately feels slightly dangerous and yet familiar. I can tell what you mean by controlled. It's like no part of it is unnecessary and all of it advances to fold together nicely, which is kind of a rarity in writing.

The pay off is both heartbreaking and also you get this sense of righteous anger that makes you want to share it, so naturally that makes it something I love because ya'll know I love being angry for righteous reasons heh


this isn't any sort of particular genius insight but my first ever writing instructor told me that the end of a story should be both surprising and inevitable, which i think is a good guiding rule.
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Postby Catullus » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:09 pm

I like that. Generally I find that if I know what the ending is going to be I end up being annoyed that I started reading, but you're constantly SEARCHING to be surprised. I mean, the thing is that when something comes out of nowhere it's also jarring. So this is jarring in a satisfying way I guess.

I KNOW IM SUPER ARTICULATE NOW, but lack of sleep is messing with me and yet I Want To Discuss Things.
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Postby big zorb » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:14 pm

yeah. i think the inevitability thing should be a sort of after-the-fact feeling: later you realize the work the writer did created a space in which the thing that happened is the only one that could happen.

sorry i don't mean to move this away from the content, which is great, too--this is a really good story, i am glad you brought it back to me--i am just marveling at how it's constructed.
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Postby VHB » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:19 pm

Actually just red this the other night, by coincidence (it's in the "The New Voices Of Fantasy" anthology compiled by Peter S. Beagle.)

Dug it. I liked the way it borrowed a lot of classic ghost story elements (each with slight original tweaks to make them "new") to put it's own mystery element in that continuity [recognized several from Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark back in the day].

big zorb wrote:this isn't any sort of particular genius insight but my first ever writing instructor told me that the end of a story should be both surprising and inevitable, which i think is a good guiding rule.


This one certainly fits the bill. Does a really good job of establishing a mystery and teasing the reveal before finally letting you have it.

As a wannabe writer I'm really drawn to this one as homework/study material. Feel like there's something for me to learn from how this is paced, etc. If I were teaching a creative writing class I'd probably use this story as an example of the Chekov's Gun principle.
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Postby big zorb » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:21 pm

Catullus wrote:I think it's just that the writing immediately feels slightly dangerous and yet familiar. I can tell what you mean by controlled. It's like no part of it is unnecessary and all of it advances to fold together nicely, which is kind of a rarity in writing.

The pay off is both heartbreaking and also you get this sense of righteous anger that makes you want to share it, so naturally that makes it something I love because ya'll know I love being angry for righteous reasons heh


rereading this the story gave me so much anxiety even in moments that *technically* weren't anxious and i think it gets to what you were saying about no unnecessary parts. the economy of words is so precious here. it's like you're sealed in one of those ziplocks where the person has actually taken the time to push all the air out. there is no world outside this story, the language is not lax, there is no room for anything except this thing itself.
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Postby Catullus » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:21 pm

Can you talk more about Chekov's Gun principle because I don't know it and I'm in the space where I really want to
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Postby VHB » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:24 pm

Catullus wrote:Can you talk more about Chekov's Gun principle because I don't know it and I'm in the space where I really want to


I assume it stems from an Anton Chekov short story where there is a gun mounted above a fireplace.

Basically if you introduce an element at the beginning of the story you're saying This Is Important and you should pay it off by the end of the story. In the case of the gun someone should fire it.

In the case of the Husband Stitch, her ribbon is the gun.
galactagogue wrote:i usually just assume no one is into me, it makes it easier to be myself.

Suspension Bridge wrote:Werewolf was the best thing to happen to me in 2015 and that includes my wedding

Kenny wrote:If you can remmeber any conversation with a cashier 30 seconds after you had it you're doing it wrong
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Postby big zorb » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:25 pm

at its core the chekov's gun theory is that if a gun is seen by the audience in act one it should go off by the end of the play. more broadly speaking it's the idea that you only bring what is necessary to the table, dramatically speaking.
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Postby Thrustin Jeroux » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:26 pm

i thought it was it should fired in the second act
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Postby Thrustin Jeroux » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:27 pm

if a dude eats beans in the first act, he should rip a fart in the second act
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Postby Thrustin Jeroux » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:27 pm

chekov explained all this in that letter he sent to some dude about it
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Postby big zorb » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:27 pm

ratbags wrote:i thought it was it should fired in the second act


what he actually says i think is w/r/t chapters
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Postby big zorb » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:28 pm

anyway the idea is that everything is presented consciously and with purpose and if something is not going to serve your narrative you ought to get rid of it
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Postby Thrustin Jeroux » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:29 pm

Chekhov's gun is a dramatic principle that states that every element in a story must be necessary, and irrelevant elements should be removed; elements should not appear to make "false promises" by never coming into play. The statement is recorded in letters by Anton Chekhov several times, with some variation:[1][2][3]

"Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there."[3][4]

"One must never place a loaded rifle on the stage if it isn't going to go off. It's wrong to make promises you don't mean to keep." Chekhov, letter to Aleksandr Semenovich Lazarev (pseudonym of A. S. Gruzinsky), 1 November 1889.[5][6][7] Here the "gun" is a monologue that Chekhov deemed superfluous and unrelated to the rest of the play.

"If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there." From Gurlyand's Reminiscences of A. P. Chekhov, in Teatr i iskusstvo 1904, No. 28, 11 July, p. 521
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Postby Thrustin Jeroux » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:29 pm

first act is followed by WHICH ACT LARRY?
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Postby rixx » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:30 pm

for example in the movie 9/11, Charlie Sheen tells an anecdote in the first act about a woman who survives an 80 foot plunge in an Empire State Building elevator by laying on the floor as it falls

in the third act, Charlie Sheen & co survive a steep WTC elevator freefall plunge by laying on the floor
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Postby big zorb » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:45 pm

yeah i remember a story like that
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Postby VHB » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:46 pm

never heard that story before but not surprised it's out there. This whole thing is wrapped in classic [American] ghost stories
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Postby Thrustin Jeroux » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:48 pm

I had that book it was sick
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Postby Catullus » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:49 pm

VHB wrote:
Catullus wrote:Can you talk more about Chekov's Gun principle because I don't know it and I'm in the space where I really want to


I assume it stems from an Anton Chekov short story where there is a gun mounted above a fireplace.

Basically if you introduce an element at the beginning of the story you're saying This Is Important and you should pay it off by the end of the story. In the case of the gun someone should fire it.

In the case of the Husband Stitch, her ribbon is the gun.


Ahh then I have heard of that and just forgot it bc sleep deprived addled-ness

But makes sense.
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Postby VHB » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:49 pm

ratbags wrote:I had that book it was sick


wonderfully fucked up artwork, especially when you're a little kid
galactagogue wrote:i usually just assume no one is into me, it makes it easier to be myself.

Suspension Bridge wrote:Werewolf was the best thing to happen to me in 2015 and that includes my wedding

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Postby Catullus » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:53 pm



It was, as were many of the stories the narrator tells and I loved that element and loved that I knew the story and yet the ending is still WTF for different reasons and the way she weaves the ribbon into other parts is !!
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Postby Thrustin Jeroux » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:53 pm

So what you're saying norm is this is the most unoriginal idea ever
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Postby Catullus » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:55 pm



I forgot about this and am very happy you reminded me
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Postby Catullus » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:56 pm

It's not unoriginal. The story relies on you already knowing what will happen, but you're still satisfied with the ending.

Maybe it doesn't RELY, but it certainly does make it better in my eyes.
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Postby Thrustin Jeroux » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:57 pm

I was making a joke
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