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Bewildering Stories

Bewildering Stories discusses...

“The Sound of Breaking Glass”

with James Shaffer

The Sound of Breaking Glass” appears in issue 597.

[James S.] In respect to your comments about George which you made from the very beginning of our discussions about this story, that you saw it as a “French farce” and George as its patsy or unwitting victim, it made me think about this story from that point of view. In my imagination, I set the story in a contemporary French household and cast the characters accordingly — and it worked!

I’ve been involved in the movie experience, the film industry, writing and stories for a long time, since the late 60’s when those interests took hold. Though I went to film school, going to New York City for weekend marathons of movies, first-runs as well as foreign films from Truffaut to Godard to Fellini to Resnais was a hands-on extension of those studies. Then living ten years in France only added another layer to those interests, and I re-worked them through another cultural milieu coupled with a lot of French-film watching.

I saw this story as a philosophical question, but you saw it as a farce or “fun,” as you’ve stated. And what I am saying is, you unknowingly touched on a part of my personality without knowing me, namely that I do tend to see the “funny” or odd side of things amidst the serious or even tragic.

Perhaps it’s an attempt to soften the blow. Maybe that really is the way I see George too, a “normal guy” caught in a serious situation or confronted by some dilemma he’s not really equipped to handle. Maybe that tragic-comic side of my personality came through? In light of those comments maybe the best answer is, “It’s a funny story.”

And to all those readers who say they “need more information,” I can only quote Bill Murray from Tootsie. Bill plays Jeff, a playwright who has something to say about audience reaction:

“I don’t like it when people come up to me after my plays and say, ‘I really dug your message, man.’ Or, ‘I really dug your play, man, I cried.’ You know. I like it when people come up to me the next day, or a week later, and they say, ‘I saw your play. What happened?’”

[Don W.] Your experience in France is quite enviable. One of the Review Editors has mentioned that Rudy Ravindra’s “A Naive Casanova” made him think, “Where is Ernest Feydeau, now that we really need him?” And I think Tom Wylie’s “A to Z at Brookview Elementary” might have been inspired by the smudged-copybook scene in Les 400 Coups. And George, in “The Sound of Breaking Glass,” might be played by Jacques Tati’s Monsieur Hulot! As for the philosophical angle, I’m reminded of the famous line from Molière’s “Tartuffe,” which does a bit of ogling of its own: “C’est un homme, enfin.” — “What can I say? He’s a man...”

[James] To parallel Moliere’s comment, I am reminded of the line in The Crying Game, when the character Jody, played by the great actor Forest Whitaker, recounts the story of the scorpion and the frog: “It’s my nature,” he says.

Recognizing that in yourself or in another is often the key to a greater understanding of so much more, from the mistakes we make and the poor excuses we offer to explain them, to the great opinions we form, to the greater truths we endeavour to discover about ourselves and the world at large.

Thanks again for your comments, always enlightening and to the point.

[Don] And thank you for the discussion, James; it is also very enlightening and to the point! And as for the story itself, I’ll add that it is not only comical in its own way but also intriguing. It draws the readers in and makes them imagine what might really be going on in the minds of Peggy, Julia and Michelle.

Copyright © 2014 by James Shaffer
and Bewildering Stories

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