From: "Matthew Davis"
Subject: Re: (urth) A Fish story Date: Wed, 1 May 2002 23:25:00 +0100 > > "A Fish Story." Is the key to understanding this short short to be found in > > the name "Rob Salmon"? (Or something like that--can't find my F&SF with the > > story at the moment) I.e., do ghosts return to the place they're "born" too? > > I found this one pretty impenetrable myself. My interpretation of "A Fish Story" is about the fear and denial of the truth (the opening line points this out - "I've always been embarrassed by the truth"); and that how even when you try to evade the truth it will still come to haunt you. The crux of the story is Rab's insistence that his aunt NOT tell him whether there's an afterlife. At the end of the story when his friends lie to him by telling him, still that lie turns out to be true. And if I remember correctly a fish story is normally a yarn or exaggerated lie - a false and distancing form of communication. Rab doesn't want to communicate (see the fact that he assumes that the hospital is only able to contact him because the ghostly Rab gave them his phone number). At the heart of the story lies Rab's less than sterling nature. He's constantly trying to avoid facing up to the events that have happened to him, as a child, as an adult, in his relationships with his friends and his family. At the hospital, meeting up with his aunt, there is a moment of self-recognition in how his aunt reflects all the things he's been trying to escape. Rab has shut something out of his life. The vision he has of himself unites both Rab's fear of the transcendent and also his knowledge of whatever it is that he's lacking, resulting in this ghost of his better self, the Rab that he isn't, throwing into sharp contrast the unpleasant Rab that he is. What to make of his name "Rab Sammon"? I don't know. Anybody want to make this out as some sort of weird religious allegory (fish in greek (icthys) = christ), please feel free. Rab as a sort of anti-apostle, the religous revelation refused? --