Monday, October 30, 2017

Big Girl, by Meg Elison

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(Modern Fantasy) A missing teenage girl turns up in San Francisco Bay, and now she’s 350 feet tall. (4,308 words; Time: 14m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

"Big Girl," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 11-12|17, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: It’s very funny in places.

Presumably it’s sending a message about how girls are either too visible (e.g. naked teens) or else invisible.

Con: There’s not much of a story here. There’s no character development or plot. No one ever learns what caused the size changes.

It’s disturbing that a teenage girl has a child by a 30-something man, but no one ever comments on that.

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4 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Girls are never the right size, the author says. I think the author hinted at the problematic nature of the 32 year old man, but subtly. In fact, much of the piece consisted of subtle satire of the indignities women face.

    1. True enough. Maybe I just missed the criticism. Or perhaps it's criticism of the public not caring about it when the girl is from a minority.

  2. I loved the voice and bizarre nature of this; particularly the painfully familiar sense of people gawping and gawking and assuming authority over a woman they don't even know.

    I think that's the heart of the story; I never felt like this one was looking for a plot or an "explanation."

    re: the 32 year old man, that's years and years after the inciting incident, and then the protagonist was 15. (A few years being gaped at; a few years on the island; a few more years shrinking down to near-human size...) So there may be an age gap, but I think she was at least 20 and possibly substantially more than that. In general, the protagonist was portrayed as self-aware, protective of herself, and (later on) having a happy family life, so I feel like I can "trust" that this relationship wasn't meant to be overly squicky. I kind of liked the nod that even with all that, she did find a person she loved and could be with. (I recall it being implied that they were a couple, that having a child was intentional, although I may be in error.)

  3. Heartbreaking look at the sexual objectification of girls/women. I think she's over 18, at the very least, when she has her daughter. But I believe there's still meant to be a slightly uncomfortable age difference between her and the father. It's strongly implied that he's only interested in her for her unusual size since he leaves when she reaches the upper range of normal -- 6 feet something. The shrinking coincides with her aging and being perceived as less sexually appealing -- until, as the mother of a college-age daughter, she becomes too small to see at all.