Friday Review: How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman

4 of 5 stars

This is a short story that first appeared in the collection Fragile Things. It tells the story of two teenaged boys who are heading out to a party to meet girls. Not an unusual thing for teenaged boys to do, in any culture. Vic is the cool guy- he can chat up the girls with no problems. Enn is the shy, less extroverted one, and is a bit jealous of Vic’s apparent ease around girls. They arrive at the party, and the house is full of girls of all sorts. Vic sets his sights on one, and is off quickly. Enn, of course, has a harder time, but eventually, he finds a girl he can talk to. Sort of. Their conversation doesn’t seem to make much sense, but, then, from Enn’s point of view, girls don’t make a lot of sense, either. The boys eventually figure out that this isn’t exactly the party they were heading for, and that these are not the girls they think they are.

I’m trying not to give anything away, for anyone who hasn’t read the story. It’s a bit allegorical, and has the faint hint of horror that many of Gaiman’s shorts do. As always, it is well written, and manages to capture the awkwardness of teenage boys, especially Enn, quite well. At the end, their experiences with the “tourist” girls are markedly different, as each of the boys is different. Read on the surface, the story may seem a bit disjointed and oddly paced, but if you look at the underlying currents, it is just as it needs to be.

The story also included a short preview of his newest novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and I look forward to reading this very soon.

I am a fan of Mr. Gaiman’s and, even though it is an older story, it did not disappoint.