Too Obits To Quit

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Rrty

Well-Known Member
Jun 4, 2007
1,309
4,103
#4
It must have been fun reading the story since you are a journalism student. I'd also like to point out something humorous -- I had come to this thread a few days before reading the story (just finished not long ago), and when I got to the comment about hoping the main character would write his own obituary, I said to myself, that's too bad I read that, may have revealed something I did not want to know (my fault entirely, I never blame anyone for something like that, it is my job, and my job alone, to avoid reading about stories I haven't yet finished). I laughed when I read the opening sentences of the tale -- that element is revealed right from the start, so it wasn't even an issue.

I really enjoyed this tale, although I agree the ending may have been a bit light. However, it's fine for me because I think you can't always have the big-twist ending, so I still it had literary value. Here are some things I thought were going to happen (it's okay that they didn't, though):

  • Katie was going to imprison Michael and make him write obituaries for her; she would watch him as he wrote them to make sure she didn't one for her; she would tie him up to keep him from getting at the computer when he wasn't there; and then -- this is just me thinking from this track, not what I thought was going to happen -- somehow he would make sure voice recognition on the computer was turned on after she left one day and say the obit aloud.
  • I can't remember if this was addressed in the story at all -- please let me know if it was -- but I thought it was going to be revealed that it actually was his equipment that had the power, not he himself (I can't recall offhand if he used different computers to write the obituary, he probably did come to think of it), and that the laptop he left behind was being used by Katie. That's what I was thinking, anyway; as I mentioned in the parenthetical comment, that possibility was probably precluded without me realizing it.
  • Michael was going to write Katie's obituary, but she legally changed her name, and kept it a secret. He'd vow to figure out what it was (not sure how good a turn that would be, i.e.: maybe it is easy to figure out a legally-changed name, perhaps that is public record).
  • Michael would have a reason to write obituaries again; maybe someone killed his parents, he wanted to change the world and rid it of bad people, etc.
  • A linkage would be made between this story and "Everything's Eventual," for obvious reasons; the government, maybe even The Shop, would have showed up in the end.
 
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Pucker

We all have it coming, kid
May 9, 2010
2,906
6,217
57
#5
Oh . . . there's a lot to get at here, but first:

I love the title of this thread. I'm actually surprised one of the local highjackers (you know who you are :eyebrow:) hasn't busted in here with an M.C. Hamer meme . . . yet.

I love this story to pieces and was actually glad to see it just kind of fizzle out at the end. If you think that's a hard thing to read, try writing it sometime. This story is about the corrupting influence of power and the inherent danger of wielding power you don't understand. The proper use of what is, in this case, divine power must be very difficult. But I try to imagine not wielding such power, if I had it, and simply can't do it. Whatever else I don't know, I know that my temperament is not suited to have it within my power to metaphorically snap the necks of everyone who -- in my estimation -- deserves it.

Beyond that, I enjoyed most of what the story had to say about what "journalism" is -- and is not -- in this fine new age. It's been long and many since I went to j-school, but when I did the second thing we were taught -- after spelling the names correctly -- was attribution. Sources. "A source for each fact," as professor Higgins says. That makes me laugh. Peruse most publications nowadays and you will find that the word "source" has itself become a source in the brave new world of the 21st century.

"According to sources ... "
"Reliable sources ... "
"Sources close to the investigation ... "

Pah!

Time was, we were taught to provide at least one (and preferably two) identifiable and reliable sources for anything in a story that was to be presented as fact and, that the reader could not reasonably be expected to already know. That's out the window, now, for the most part. Of course, the modern "journalist" will tell you that he couldn't possibly reveal his sources ... else said sources would surely dry up. Watergate -- if you remember what that was -- is usually the catch-all example to point out this fallacy. Good ol' Woodward and Bernstein. But I say if your source doesn't have the courage of his convictions, how reliable is he, and why is he talking at all? And beyond that, this business of "protecting" sources is awfully convenient cover for simply making stuff up, if that's what you want to do.

Not that any of that has much to do with Obits. It's just a pet peeve of mine as an old guy, who likes to think things were better at some unspecified time in the past, even though they probably weren't.

Ultimately, this strikes me as a "What Would You Do?" story. You have the power. What would you do?

You didn't like the ending? What would you do?

Like in Rty's spoiler.

It's fun to think about.
 

doowopgirl

very avid fan
Aug 7, 2009
6,790
23,967
60
dublin ireland
#6
It must have been fun reading the story since you are a journalism student. I'd also like to point out something humorous -- I had come to this thread a few days before reading the story (just finished not long ago), and when I got to the comment about hoping the main character would write his own obituary, I said to myself, that's too bad I read that, may have revealed something I did not want to know (my fault entirely, I never blame anyone for something like that, it is my job, and my job alone, to avoid reading about stories I haven't yet finished). I laughed when I read the opening sentences of the tale -- that element is revealed right from the start, so it wasn't even an issue.

I really enjoyed this tale, although I agree the ending may have been a bit light. However, it's fine for me because I think you can't always have the big-twist ending, so I still it had literary value. Here are some things I thought were going to happen (it's okay that they didn't, though):

  • Katie was going to imprison Michael and make him write obituaries for her; she would watch him as he wrote them to make sure she didn't one for her; she would tie him up to keep him from getting at the computer when he wasn't there; and then -- this is just me thinking from this track, not what I thought was going to happen -- somehow he would make sure voice recognition on the computer was turned on after she left one day and say the obit aloud.
  • I can't remember if this was addressed in the story at all -- please let me know if it was -- but I thought it was going to be revealed that it actually was his equipment that had the power, not he himself (I can't recall offhand if he used different computers to write the obituary, he probably did come to think of it), and that the laptop he left behind was being used by Katie. That's what I was thinking, anyway; as I mentioned in the parenthetical comment, that possibility was probably precluded without me realizing it.
  • Michael was going to write Katie's obituary, but she legally changed her name, and kept it a secret. He'd vow to figure out what it was (not sure how good a turn that would be, i.e.: maybe it is easy to figure out a legally-changed name, perhaps that is public record).
  • Michael would have a reason to write obituaries again; maybe someone killed his parents, he wanted to change the world and rid it of bad people, etc.
  • A linkage would be made between this story and "Everything's Eventual," for obvious reasons; the government, maybe even The Shop, would have showed up in the end.
I'm glad I'm not the only one who saw a correlation with Everything Eventual. I liked the ending. The story ended where it needed to or he would have ended up quite mad. Who is to say he didn't?
 

Owenk

Well-Known Member
Nov 13, 2014
351
2,058
57
#8
I really enjoyed this one as well, and thought the ending was great. Things don't always end with pyrotechnics and Armageddon.

It also highlighted what may be a difference between US otactice and what we do over her in the UK. Our Constant Author comments obits aren't written in advance, but I think that may well be the norm over here so that the papers have them ready to pull out like a rabbit from a hat.

Indeed this reminded me of poor old Dave Swarbrick the fiddle player from Fairport Convention who had been a bit under the weather but who picked back up after opening the Daily Telegraph (circulation circa 500,000) about 15 years back.


Dave Swarbrick is fit as a fiddle (From The Oxford Times)
 
Mar 8, 2012
5,428
25,643
NJ
#9
I guess I am in the minority here. I feel as if I've heard this story before, like on a Twilight Zone-type show. There was nothing about it I found different; there was no SK "twist" if you will. Also, I found the description of the Neon Circus columns, various employees and atmosphere to be sort of pedestrian; almost "beneath" SK's usually very astute observations on such things. The one thing I kept thinking while reading this one was, "Did someone else write this?" Not that I think someone did; I just found the writing a bit off and amateurish.
 

80sFan

Just one more chapter...
Jul 14, 2015
2,997
16,161
Pennsylvania
#10
I guess I am in the minority here. I feel as if I've heard this story before, like on a Twilight Zone-type show. There was nothing about it I found different; there was no SK "twist" if you will. Also, I found the description of the Neon Circus columns, various employees and atmosphere to be sort of pedestrian; almost "beneath" SK's usually very astute observations on such things. The one thing I kept thinking while reading this one was, "Did someone else write this?" Not that I think someone did; I just found the writing a bit off and amateurish.
As usual, I felt the same way.
 

Pucker

We all have it coming, kid
May 9, 2010
2,906
6,217
57
#11
The one thing I kept thinking while reading this one was, "Did someone else write this?" Not that I think someone did; I just found the writing a bit off and amateurish.
Well ... if you want to pick nits, its a variation on a Richard Matheson story that I think is called The Box, which did, indeed, become a Twilight Zone episode. Or it may have been The Outer Limits. Night Gallery? Who remembers? In the original, there is a button on this black box that, when pushed, will kill somebody, somewhere. The twist there is that the person who pushes the button doesn't know who will be killed. And I think there was some offer of money.

Now I think of it, the stories aren't really that similar.

But that might be why you think you recognize it.

Not too many new things under the sun.
 

kemibe

New Member
Jan 6, 2016
3
11
49
#12
I love this. King's "Obits" is about a columnist who writes obituaries that kill people. In the late 1990s, having worked in the newsroom of the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, I wrote a short story titled "Obits" about an editorial assistant who writes obituaries that kill people. I suspect King's will turn out to be the more widely read of the two, but mine is included in the collection Lize Brittin and I e-published for kicks a couple of years ago.

I'm more struck (and titillated) by the fact that we chose exactly the same titles than by the similarity in themes (I haven't read King's yet and just finished "Finders Keepers"); the concept seems like one a lot of people would inevitably concoct.

Maybe I should file a frivolous lawsuit for copyright infringement against my favorite author of all time. ;;D Or more practically, use King's work to promote "You Can't Use Your Cell Phone In Here" all over the Web.
 

Moderator

Ms. Mod
Administrator
Jul 10, 2006
48,964
133,460
Maine
#13
I love this. King's "Obits" is about a columnist who writes obituaries that kill people. In the late 1990s, having worked in the newsroom of the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, I wrote a short story titled "Obits" about an editorial assistant who writes obituaries that kill people. I suspect King's will turn out to be the more widely read of the two, but mine is included in the collection Lize Brittin and I e-published for kicks a couple of years ago.

I'm more struck (and titillated) by the fact that we chose exactly the same titles than by the similarity in themes (I haven't read King's yet and just finished "Finders Keepers"); the concept seems like one a lot of people would inevitably concoct.

Maybe I should file a frivolous lawsuit for copyright infringement against my favorite author of all time. ;;D Or more practically, use King's work to promote "You Can't Use Your Cell Phone In Here" all over the Web.
Now that you mention it, I was torn as to whether I should move this to our Self-Promotion thread. :wink:
 

jalexbrown

Well-Known Member
May 11, 2009
154
19
Cincinnati, Ohio
#16
Easy enough to see that giving up the power is the only sane solution ... but actually relinquishing it, easier envisioned than accomplished, no?
I guess that would depend on the kind of person you are.
The way the story presented it, I thought the power was an addiction. I didn't interpret to be an Oh man, this is so cool sort of addiction; I interpreted it to be a real, literal addiction. In that light relinquishing the power must've been a more difficult thing. The problem I have with the story's ending, I suppose, is that it didn't really sell me on that character development. It's like writing a story about a heroin addict, and in one scene he's shooting up and in the next he's six months sober. Yeah, that is how it works, but you missed a lot of the struggle.
 
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