It is not often that we get definite genre fiction here at Periphery. While looking back through Periphery 50 I stumbled across In Loving Miriam and had to share it.
What I was reminded of the first time I read through Asmita Gauchan’s wonderful story was a Shakespeare class I took (Bear with me here). The class was about the four great Shakespearean tragedies with which, at the time, I was unfamiliar. The professor, early in the lecture, mentioned off-handedly that all of the protagonists died in the end of their respective plays. I was shocked that the endings would be spoiled so cavalierly for those students like myself who hadn’t read the play. Apparently I was not alone in thinking this, because the professor stopped, turned to the class and said, “It doesn’t matter that they die, that isn’t as important as the path that brings them there”
I think about that quote now, every time someone tells me they binged through a full season of a show because they ‘just had to know’. I wonder about that validity of my professor’s statement. The pull of knowing what happens at the end of a story is incredibly powerful, be it who sits on the Iron Throne or what is happening in Hawkins Indiana. No one was asking what foreshadowed those things, or how character development and agency caused it; but how come we don’t ‘just have to know’ why that character become king or queen, or what caused the incidents around Hawkins Indiana?
I have to imagine the richness of the story, the depth of it, comes from the road to that explanation. Once the pieces of ones world have been put back together in a post understanding revelation, why does one revisit a story? It can’t be to experience the shock again, it has to be how the story got to that shocking point. Certainly my professor was correct about Shakespeare, but what about In Loving Miriam?
What I find so interesting about the structure of In Loving Miriam, is that despite the fact that it holds its own twists, the start of the story is the biggest: Miriam’s suicide. From her suicide note, the story works to show how Miriam came to take her own life. The story of Peter’s journey to resurrect her is mostly about what caused her to take her own life in the first place. Reading the story again, the world painted by Gauchan with it’s interactive ads, floating buses, and futuristic milkshakes all take a backseat to fleshing out these characters, to showing their relationship and it’s eventual end. Even the title seems to take the stance that the importance of the story is not its end, but what the effects of what happens when one loves Miriam. The story skips the shock factor in order to allow the reader immediate access to the richness of how the story came to that shocking point.
A now (in)famous study at UC San Diego found that people tend to like stories more if they are ‘spoiled’ first. I wonder if that is because spoiled stories allow reader to see deeper into them upon a first reading. I think this is an incredibly interesting topic and would love to hear what you all think about spoilers and In Loving Mirriam, so drop a comment and let us know!
Here is the link to that study for all of you skeptical readers out there