March 24th, 2009


Retelling or appropriation?

I tend to find that abstract notions don't line up easily with actual examples, for me.

So here's an actual example that makes me wonder.

(I *will* write the story, and decide whether it's appropriation after it's written. I have written about 400 words and bits of the rest. -- I'm not so much asking for reassurance (though it's nice and I appreciate it!) as offering up an example to ponder with me with regard to the CA issue, because I find it interesting and complex and am a bit torn.)

There's a story I grew up with, read and reread and loved in one of the ACK comics in the cardboard box under the bed in the last room of my grandparents' apartment. (Ancient, mostly in pieces, almost all with lost covers, so I can't even say which one).

And this morning my brain gave me a retelling. Voice, story, changes, everything.
Thing is, this retelling takes the pretty rose-tinted lenses of this tale and smashes them into little sharp bits. I've done this once before, with what I called Daya and Dharma (forthcoming in GUD issue 4); but I mostly changed the ending there, and readers can probably guess the original ending from how mine... does not go. This one twists one of the major premises and will resonate throughout.

And with most stories, I tend to think they're fair game for that.

But what about a beloved Indian myth that almost nobody in my target audience will ever come across? (I mean, unless you follow my link and put up with the prose...) Would I be overriding the original, drowning that voice with my retelling? Would I be appropriating my own culture for the enjoyment of those outside it?

(Assuming I can make the story work, of course).

It is the story in my head, so I will write it. And the twisting I'm doing is a response to... things the culture glosses over. But are there more and less responsible ways to do this?

Procrastination by haiku

I should be writing.
But it is so very appropriate!

Via aries_jordan:

Haiku2 for shweta_narayan
and how they and i
are thinking differently
before rather than
Created by Grahame


Haiku2 for buddhistmippo
nathsaniel ids hids
attimbear it means unfcle
i think so i nshould
Created by Grahame

In case you, like me, have been living under a rock (short story rec)

I just read Pahwakhe by Gord Sellar (eclexys), and wow. Must have missed it when I was sick from Jan-May last year, and lost track of reading. Anyway! I want to call it beautiful, wondrous, magical -- but adjectives don't do it justice. I willnote how rare it is for me to find an unsympathetic narrator compelling, but this one is so oblivious to his own selfishness (and the author so clearly isn't!) that I follow him with appalled fascination:

The chiefs of the other villages came to my longhouse one by one, bearing gifts for her hand. They wanted me to marry her to one of their sons. But I kept her for myself. You know how a father enjoys his girls when they bring him food, and talk to him, and listen to him tell the old stories.

And! The specific Other in this story gives me extra-special delight -- that of seeing someone do beautifully what one has sort of been playing with oneself. So I am totally loving this story and looking forward to chasing down more of Gord's work.

And -- many thanks to oldcharliebrown, who pointed it out (because Gord is nominated for this year's Campbell Award!) and thus gave me much joy.