Previous Entry Share Next Entry
The Goosle by Margo Lanagan
Bella
ellen_datlow
I'm posting this now so you can have a head start. I won't be reading it till I get home tonight (agita is not a good thing while traveling)...comments welcome in the meantime,and I'll catch up tonight or tomorrow morning:

Off on a Tangent

I'm adding an excellent analysis of the actual story vs the review here at
Torque Control

and comments by SF Diplomat, Ben Payne, and Chasing Ray

And Margo Lanagan, who has been offline while traveling (why did I think that might be the case) has this to say --at least until she returns:

[L]et me just say that anyone who thinks ‘The Goosle’ is child pornography has their child-porn radar set way too high; that anyone who thinks Hanny for a moment enjoys being buggered simply hasn’t read the story properly; and anyone who thinks the story was written for shock value or because my ‘idea well ran dry’ has very little sense of how stories happen, or how many ideas are constantly beating at the doors of any writer’s brain. Dave’s review says a whole lot more about Dave than it says about ‘The Goosle’ or about my motivations.
Margo strikes back!

  • 1
I won't point out all the things that Dave missed in his reading of the book, but one egregious one is that "Shira" is an alternate history--I guess he skimmed it so quickly he didn't notice that Jerusalem has been blown up (the little Holocaust of the story). Oy.
(Frozen) (Thread)

From Dave T

(Anonymous)
To Ellen (and all)--from Dave Truesdale,

Haven’t read any of the posts since last night, but decided to write this first, post it, and then run through any new stuff. Don’t know if these posts have a word count, but I may have to split this into parts.

When Margo Lanagan set out to write “The Goosle” she was staring at a blank screen. She could play God. Every twist, every turn in the story was hers to choose. As were the theme, the characters, and everything else about her story.

Now please consider the following: rape of any kind is a despicable act. Period. Regardless of who commit’s the rape.

There is adult rape by a man against a woman. There is adult rape by a man against a man. There is child rape by a man against a girl. There is child rape by a man against a boy. Four scenarios.

Because of the subject matter of Lanagan’s story, the retelling of the Hansel and Gretel fairytale, her choices (once she decided to go with a rape scenario in the first place), was pretty much limited to the latter pair of choices: man rape against a girl child, or man rape against a boy child. The choice was hers and hers alone. She could have chosen to have the nasty old man rape Gretel, but she didn’t. She chose to have the nasty old man rape Hansel. She, and she alone, chose gay rape of a boy child.

If, as some have offered here, I am homophobic because I objected to gay rape of a child, then what does this say of Lanagan’s choice? It was her choice to portray gay rape of a child as a nasty, horrible, terrible thing, was it not? It certainly was not this reviewer who wrote a homosexual man into the story. It was certainly not this reviewer who wrote into the story that this homosexual would rape a young boy child. It was the author.

If the author, or anyone posting here, is concerned that homosexual rape of a child in this story tars all gay men--or promotes a stereotype in the minds of some--then this is the author’s fault, and not that of a reviewer who declaims against such a scenario.

If anyone promoted (unintentionally, albeit) the stereotype that all homosexuals are male child rapists it was the author. She had other choices, but chose this one. What makes it even worse, is that she chose to include the line where Hansel, even though for a brief moment, questions whether or not he likes what is being done to him. With this in mind, now reverse the roles. Pretend that Gretel is the one being raped and entertains the thought--even for a brief moment--that she might like it. Isn’t this thought what we see in movies and on tv, when the jerk off says to someone (the police), “but I could tell she wanted it”? And we hate the asshole even more for his crime, don’t we? For his barbarian attitude toward women?

End Part One

(Frozen) (Parent) (Thread)

I have only posted tangentially because I have not read the short story in question. I don't know you, and I bear you no ill-will, but your post here indicates a lack of knowledge about the pathology of rapists and pedophiles, and also mischaracterizes the posts here, which I *have* read.

There is no such thing as "gay child rape." Pedophiles who are attracted to boys are no more likely to be gay than the population at large. They are not the intersection of the Venn circles "gay" and "pedophile." Of those pedophiles who rape boys who are also attracted to adults, the vast majority of them are attracted to women, not to men. Very often its precisely the feminine features of boys (as opposed to grown men) that attract them. Why boys, then? For reasons similar to those that lead pedophiles to rape girls. They are attracted to the degree of control they can have over a child versus an adult, they feel threatened by interactions with empowered adults, perhaps they feel threatened by females in general, etc. Don't believe me? Go do the research. Calling it "homosexual child rape" or "gay child rape" is a mischaracterization--it is inaccurate to say that most men who rape boys are gay; they are simply not.

As to your comment here, perhaps I skimmed too lightly, but I don't recall seeing somebody characterize you as homophobic. I'll retract that statement if you can point me to a post I missed. I have seen people object to the phrase "homosexual child rape" because it implies that it carries twice the stigma of other child rape--that it's somehow important to draw the distinction. It is rape. Or, if you prefer, sexual abuse. No need to (incorrectly) speculate on the sexual preference of the perpetrator. (Again, I haven't read the story, but I have read in one of the links I followed from here that the rapist also has sex with the mudwife, which suggests that he is not, in fact, gay. Sounds like Lanagan did her research.)

It certainly was not this reviewer who wrote a homosexual man into the story. It was certainly not this reviewer who wrote into the story that this homosexual would rape a young boy child. It was the author.

It sounds like you are mistaken. it sounds like the author wrote into the story that this heterosexual man would rape a young boy child.

(Frozen) (Parent) (Thread)

Re: From Dave T

(Anonymous)
"it sounds like the author wrote into the story that this heterosexual man would rape a young boy child."

Or bisexual man?

I would also toss out that most folks reading this story might assume him to be bisexual (probably, sigh, gay enough for them), and they wouldn't care why. And there would be even more who might assume (wrongly) that it perpetuates the horribly mistaken view that all gay or bisexual men are evil rapists. Just sayin'. And I'd have to go back and sort through the posts, but yes, there were references to my being a bigot as well as homophobic. It might have been in another thread concerned with this same review. I _believe_ it came from someone called "pm--again."

Best,
Dave
(Frozen) (Parent) (Thread)

From Dave T pt.2

(Anonymous)
But Lanagan has a homosexual child rapist telling Hansel he knows Hansel likes it, and even Hansel has his moment of doubt. This, then, makes the gay rapist even more despicable. So why is it that some here have decried my objection to this set of circumstances by insinuating that I am homophobic and wish to tar all gay men as child rapists? Or have something against gays?

I also objected on the grounds that of all the limitless, possible scenarios the author could have gone with in this story, she went with homosexual child rape, and I questioned this as well (the line in the review about the idea well running dry). It was Margo Lanagan’s choice and hers alone, when she decided to write about a thoroughly depraved, disgusting, gay child rapist (who got his comeuppance, but not at the hands of Hansel), not me. She has portrayed a gay man in the worst possible light, not me.

So who’s the one promoting a bad image of gay men (as I have been accused of here)? Please look at the story and think about what I’ve just said. Lanagan had choices. She chose rape. She chose gay rape. She chose gay child rape.

I room with a retired gay man who, in his spare time, writes graphic gay sex short stories (and sells them). Even he has said that he, and his publisher, won’t touch gay child rape. Not to their liking. Are they homophobic?

There’s one last reason I didn’t care for the “child abuse” in this story, and it has nothing to do with anything above. Somewhere back in the ’80s I began to notice an uptick in the number of sf/f stories that in some way or other (the main story, or background, a line here and there) had aspects of the dysfunctional family/child abuse. The physically abusive father either to the mother or some child, the runaway father, the alcoholic father, the sexually abusive father (mostly given to the reader by indirect reference)--that sort of thing. Boy, take your pick; it seemed like SF writers were taking their cue from the public awareness of this issue brought to the fore by the media, and on morning talk shows of the era (who cater mostly to women), and even unto the present. From one line references all the way to the focus of the story, there were inordinate numbers of stories having something to do with the dysfunctional family. And I have grown weary of them. Not that the issue isn’t important, no sir. Doesn’t matter whether the stories are good or bad, or how well they’re told, or anything else. It’s just a weariness of reading so many stories including something about a dysfunctional family. It’s pure numbers. So when I again saw the child abuse in “The Goosle” I thought, “Here we go again, another dysfunctional family “type” story, now finding its way into a retelling of a fairytale; can’t authors these days come up with anything different?”.

In fact, Pat Cadigan’s story in this same collection includes a highly dysfunctional family, to say the least. :-)

Best,
Dave Truesdale



(Frozen) (Parent) (Thread)

Ok, I have actually written a thesis on this topic (in the context of legal judgments, but the logic holds here). The problem is not that your review talked about, and objected to, the inclusion of child rape. The problem, as other posters have pointed out, is the phrase "repeated homosexual rape of a child (Hansel)". You identify the child - Hansel. He is male. You identify that he is being "Buggered" - the rape is therefore by a man. The act is between two males and is therefore, by definition a "homosexual" act. If a man rapes another male, why on earth is the word "homosexual" required? Its only effect is to mark out an the 'otherness' of homosexuality and, in this case, to associate homosexuality with pedophilia. This is further reinforced by your later comment that this rape is "shock value of the most depraved sort." More so than the rape of Gretel? Why? The only meaningful reason is that you see homosexual sex, consensual or nonconsensual, as 'worse' than heterosexual.

I ask you this straight out - how would the meaning of your review have been changed if you had left out the word "homosexual"? I suggest not at all, except that your biases (conscious or unconscious, I won't judge there, but they are refelcted in the text) would not be revealed.
(Frozen) (Parent) (Thread)

About "Shira"

(Anonymous)
Ellen, I could possibly be wrong about Lavie Tidhar’s “Shira” being a straight-up sf tale rather than an alternate history sf piece. If so, I apologize. OTOH, I took the references to the “little Holocaust” not as alternate history, but in opposition to the real “Big Holocaust.” Note that there are also several references to the late 20th century--as if the 20th century was done and gone--and the story was taking place in our future. Thus, it would seem reasonable to assume (given all the perpetual unrest in the Middle East), that something had happened, and the “little Holocaust” was the result. In support of my reading of the story, there was also that one throwaway line about the asteroid belt, which, in context, assumes a story somewhere in the near to fairly medium future. I could have missed something, but please take a look at the story again to see if either of us may have missed something? I certainly don’t skim any story; wouldn’t be fair to the author. I look’em over as carefully as I’m able. But no one is perfect, and I could have missed something.

Dave
(Frozen) (Parent) (Thread)

Dave, the story is set in a world where a major city (that still exists) is destroyed by a nuclear bomb. (I won't be too specific as I don't want to give too much away). It can be either: sf or alternate history (which some people call fantasy and some consider sf) but in either case you I believe said it wasn't speculative at all. Here is what you wrote:
"Only two slight, one-line references (one about the asteroid belt) make this even marginally an sf story, and neither references are germane to the tale."
(Frozen) (Parent) (Thread)

Re: About "Shira"

(Anonymous)
Ellen: "in either case you I believe said it wasn't speculative at all. Here is what you wrote:
"Only two slight, one-line references (one about the asteroid belt) make this even marginally an sf story, and neither references are germane to the tale."

Uh, Ellen? I said (and you quoted just above) that it was marginally SF. I did not say it "wasn't speculative at all." I used the term marginally because the asteroid belt reference really had nothing to do with the story, which was about the woman's search for the poet.

Ellen: "the story is set in a world where a major city (that still exists) is destroyed by a nuclear bomb."

It only still exists if it's an alternate world story. As the text shows, however, there are references to the late 20th century, meaning this story takes place at least somewhere in the 21st. Add the asteroid belt line, and you've got a near future straight SF piece. But these slight references are in the background. The story concerns the woman's journey, all the poetry, and the guy. This is why I called it marginally SF (but SF). Precious little in the story had anything to do with SF, did it? :-)

Dave
(Frozen) (Parent) (Thread)

The whole story is predicated on a moment in a future that changes the entire balance of the Middle East. The story takes place in this different world. If that ain't sf, I don't know what is.
(Frozen) (Parent) (Thread)

Re: About "Shira"

(Anonymous)
Ellen: "The whole story is predicated on a moment in a future that changes the entire balance of the Middle East. The story takes place in this different world. If that ain't sf, I don't know what is."

And I've said repeatedly that it *is* SF, Ellen. Geez, why do you keep saying I didn't say it was SF? To my mind it is "marginally" SF _in that_ once we're in this future (not alternate SF world, but future world as you now agree), the story has little to do with this "change." It clearly centers on the woman, her journey, and the guy she seeks--which really could take place pretty much anywhere, or anytime. The future world is not really necessary to the story at all.

Since you now use the word "future" it is agreed that it is not an alternate history, as you mistakenly thought, since there is no such thing as an "alternate future."

So much for your criticizing my "egregious" misreading of the story and your "Oy" comment, eh?

Fair's fair. :-)

Later,
Dave
(Frozen) (Parent) (Thread)

You say it's minimally sf I say that the entire story is sf or fantasy (it's actually better 'defined' as science fantasy) with time travel. In a non-sf/f story, the protagonist and the poet could not have ever met and he wouldn't have been able to predict the "small Holocaust" in his work written years before it. Without those elements there would be no story. So whether you call it fantasy/alternate world (which it also is) or sf doesn't matter. The fantastic elements are crucial to the story itself.
(Frozen) (Parent) (Thread)

  • 1
?

Log in