Galaxy Girl, Panda Boy

July 27, 2008

This was a weird little volume of stories. They’re the type of stories that just barely don’t make sense, but still have a narrative, and the nonsense is intentional and not just a result of bad storytelling.

I think the first was my favorite. A girl lives in an extremely isolated town full of what can only be described as hippies. She hates it and her place in it, and things come to a head when she gets her period and everyone in town is called in to celebrate, which she is very, VERY unhappy with. Her feelings change when she witnesses an adults-only dancing festival in the woods one night with her best friend, the festival celebrating the lunar eclipse. It was a weird, weird story (the adults, for instance, made the children drink milk with a sleeping aid in it before they left), but it read like a really weird coming-of-age story, and I liked it for that.

The second story didn’t make a whole lot of sense. A girl and her surfer boyfriend don’t really connect, and then do. It was a nice story, and I kind of liked it, but it read more like a little sketch than an actual story with a plot.

The majority of the volume was taken up by a long story called “Adventure” about a school where children are basically abandoned and are left to their own free will to learn whatever they want. There are teachers, but most of the stories are about a set of twins and the people they interact with. The girl doesn’t utter one word the entire time she’s at the school, and the boy makes constant efforts to contact his parents so they can leave, except his parents are divorced and don’t have the same address anymore. There’s a weird cast of characters and lots of unusual things going on, most of which didn’t add up to anything but was sort of a fun read anyway. I didn’t particularly like this story, but only because it was vaguely depressing where all the others had been upbeat in their own various ways.

There is a genre of short stories where inconsequential events interrupt and totally derail the narrative, not necessarily for comic effect. This volume fits into that quite nicely, along with things like “Blood Lake” by Jim Krusoe or the writings of Donald Barthelme.  It also features two different stories about girls getting their first period, which is just not something you read every day.  I’m sad that I discovered Passion Fruit so long after it was cancelled, because I liked both volumes in the line.  Both this and Sweat and Honey were unusual and interesting titles.