First, there is The New Yorker of January 16, 202 (Don’t ask. Self just can’t explain), a short story by Said Sayrafiezadeh called “A Brief Encounter with the Enemy.” This story is the first post-”Things They Carried” war short story self has ever read. And since she first read Tim O’Brien ages and ages ago, she thinks it’s high time!
Here’s the narrator describing a mission:
To get to the hill you have to first take the path . . . I was loaded down with fifty pounds of equipment that clanged and banged with every step. I might as well have been carrying a refrigerator on my back. But after the first month the fear dissipated and the path started to become fascinating, even charming. I was able to appreciate the “beauty of the surroundings” . . . even the trees that I was constantly bumping against.
Oh, that is fabulous writing, simply fabulous. Hilarious. She wonders (since she hasn’t yet finished reading the story) if it ends in tragedy.
The other thing self is reading is of course Hunger Games fan fiction. She landed on this story just yesterday. It’s no use hiding the fact from dear blog readers: in the past few months (probably since last December), self has completely surrendered to the charms of Alternate Universe Narratives. She reads one every night before she goes to bed. Her filters are “Angst” and “Peeta.”
In the one she is currently reading, charming Miss Katniss Everdeen has been summoned home to America, a country she had not seen since the age of eight (Self is all too cognizant of the fact that the tone of the particular piece of fan fiction she is reading — it’s set in 1832 — is beginning to bleed into her blog post, but anyhoo), not since she was enrolled by her parents in a very ritzy London private school called Panem’s Better School for Girls.
The ship she books passage on is called the Mockingjay. Her chaperone is a ditzy woman named Miss Effie Trinket. Just as she boards, however, Katniss discovers that Ms. Trinket has to go, and there is no other female presence on this dastardly ship. Worse, the captain’s name is CORIOLANUS SNOW. The first mate, a man with mutton chops and “dark, glittering eyes” is called SENECA CRANE. Before you can say BOO, our heroine encounters yet another unsavory sort, a sailor named ROMULUS THREAD. Sailor after sailor attempt to warn her that she would be best getting off the ship and embarking on another — say, The Virginian. But our Miss Katniss is an extremely stubborn soul. It appears she is more terrified of appearing weak than of actually experiencing any sort of physical (or moral, or emotional) harm. The last doleful warning comes from a rheumy sort who begins addressing her as “Sweetheart.” Still our plucky Miss Katniss refuses to budge.
Self’s heart was pounding a mile a minute — that is, until Miss K happens to make the acquaintance of the cook. This man — or boy — happens to have eyes of cerulean blue and the longest eyelashes she has ever seen. At which point, self felt like standing up and screaming: KATNISS, STAY ON THAT SHIP! YOU DON’T WANT ANYONE TAKING YOU OFF THAT SHIP! BELIEVE ME!
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.