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From: "William H. Ansley" <wansley@warwick.net>
Subject: Re: (urth) Cues
Date: Mon, 6 Jul 1998 01:23:47 

Robert Borski wrote:
>Time now to consider "Cues," possibly Gene Wolfe's most cryptic short work.
>It's also extremely scatological if I read it right...


>This concept is perhaps best understood in light of the title and its
>myriad variations throughout the story, the various miscues. The story
>begins with a "?" This is a misapprehension of "que,"  the Spanish word for

You know, I used to think this too, but it's not so. The story opens with

     "Cues?" the young (not really so young any more) man said. "I'm
     afraid I don't understand."

The first word is the same as the title, so Gene Wolfe playfully collapsed
it with the title (even though it is used in quoted speech) resulting in
only one initial occurrence of the word "cues." Please note the occurence
of an open double quote in front the title word with no matching close
quote on the same line and a close quote after the question mark with no
matching open quote (on the same line). I'm really surprised you missed
this, considering your obsession with quotes. (Of course, I am going by
page 294 of the Pocket Books paperback edition of _The Island of Doctor
Death and Other Stories and Other Stories_. Perhaps the copy you read was
"corrected" by some over-zealous copy editor.)

This bit of word play may well be in homage to Lewis Carroll, who did
something very similar in _Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found
There_. The last few words of chapter 3 seem to be missing, but they are
the same as (and collapsed with, portmanteau-style) the title of chapter 4.

I think you may be confused about who is relieving him(it)self here. (I
know I'll be relieved when this particular discussion is over with! 8->)
Although you are not completely clear, I think you are saying that the
not-so-young man is on the can. (By the way, could you please favor us with
all the dirt on how you "almost certainly" work out that "the name of
'not-so-young man' in the 'bathroom' [is] 'John Clute.'"?)

But if that's the case, then why is the bowling ball described as being on
the throne. (If a chair of massy gold isn't a throne, I'd like to know what

William Ansley

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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