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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 349

A Difference in Degree

  1. Marina J. Neary says that “How Am I Gonna Play Guitar Now?” is — though a dramatization — historically accurate and thus a memoir:

    1. What indicates that the story is fact rather than fiction? Hint: Bewildering Stories’ unofficial motto: “There is no story so truly bewildering as reality.” Is the story satire or Naturalistic realism?
    2. Whose memoir is it? Do we really want to know?
    3. Local color aside, might the story apply to other places?
    4. If the story is read as fiction, what classic dramatic device provides the basis for most of the comedy?
    5. If the story is read as fact, what tragedies are played out within it?
    6. How does the story illustrate the principle that comedy and tragedy differ only in degree, not in kind?
  2. Bill Bowler’s “Professor Mrak” makes a stark contrast in its beginning and ending:

    1. What is the contrast?
    2. Why is Walter Wobble’s disillusionment justified? (You may write a one-hour essay, but we’d prefer a one-sentence zinger.)
    3. Referring to both “Professor Mrak” and “Progress With Cynthia,” does Walter Wobble seem to have self-destructive tendencies?
  3. In Bertrand Cayzac’s “A Few Drinks With the Police”:

    1. The name “Cosmitics” seems to refer to a cosmetics firm. Explain the significance of the unusual spelling.
    2. In “Fred’s Presentation,” Fred Looseman gave his risk assessment of the La Figa bank. How does it tie win with what the bank actually seems to be doing? Do the bank’s activities have a symbolic signficance or are they actually plausible?
    3. What do the 16th-century peasant revolts have to do with 21st-century corporate feudalism?
    4. Translate the following:
      Intense blue-grey signals cross the police officers’ ophthalmic ganglions and toggle on TV mode. In the officers’ visual cortex, an emergent function selects a post-processing close-up with a real-time evaluation taking into account semantic parameters and the dramatic intensity score.
      What is the basic stylistic device used in this satire?
  4. Gary Inbinder’s “Nemo and Kafka in Peredia” contains innumerable elements of satire:

    1. What might be the California analogue of “the metropolis of Los Diábolos”?
    2. What is the common name for iron pyrites?
    3. Why is the name “Peredia” ironic? Hint: cf. Plautus, Curculio, III, i.
    4. Does the story seem to apply to current politics?
    5. In view of “Nemo in the Literary Market,” what does Nemo’s and Kafka the Cat’s strategy seem to be for dealing with adverse circumstances? Are they clever or are they craven sell-outs?
  5. In Ajay Vishwanathan’s “One Last Crab,” how does the depiction of eating crab represent the relationship of Babu and Leena?

Responses welcome!

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