Friday, September 23, 2011

“Exactly What to Say” (By: Chidelia Edochie) – Camera Obscura

This is one of the shorter prose pieces in Camera Obscura’s third volume. It is told in first person from the perspective of a girl who is being followed home by a man. She describes their shadows and how the shadows seem to overlap each other as if the two of them are touching. He ends up confronting her on her steps, realizes that he made a mistake in thinking she was someone else, and walks away. Although she did not want the two shadows to be intertwined at first, now she can no longer look at her shadow the same way because it seems lonely.

This piece was absolutely stunning. In just a few short pages, the author created a delicate character that embodied a universal sense of loneliness and doubt. Chidelia’s details of the shadows, how the thin fingers would become muddled if overlapped into each others shadows, creating this sense of unwanted and unknown unity, were such that I was truly able to picture such a moment happening. The concept was creepy – a man following a girl home, keeping the same pace that she kept as she walked, but at the same time, there was this sense of comfort and realness. I am truly in awe of her ability to make me think about relationships and how someone can come into your life unexpectedly and leave this fleeting mark that somehow lasts forever.

- Jennifer A.


Popped said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Popped said...

This piece sounds really cool and I would definitely like to read it. The idea of a person following you home is creepy but the fact that the author makes the girl long for that part of her shadow to return turns that on its head. The author is clearly a great writer to be able to detail the girl's transition from discomfort to acceptance, and eventual longing of return, in such a short piece.

Popped said...


This piece sounds like great fun. It makes me think of the shadow man from the Princess and the Frog or Peter Pan, who has to sew his shadow back to his foot. While those shadows could be considered characters, I never thought of a shadow looking lonely before and it sounds like the author had some great descriptions of what that might look like. I imagine that would be difficult to write, but it sounds like it worked really well.


Popped said...

I really want to read this story! It has the very real creepiness that you noted, but it also has a profound sadness as well. Weirdly enough, it reminds me of a ghost story I read many years ago. The use of shadows as characters is particularly effective; it's been a while since my Religion and Psychology class, but if I recall correctly, Freud wrote extensively on the correlation between the shadow and the suppressed unconscious (desires, hopes, urges, all suppressed within the shadow.)I hope this isn't taking it too far, but if the shadow is the woman's unconscious suppressed feelings and wishes, then the overlapping shadows could be the brief possibility of suppressed feelings/desires (i.e. meeting someone, etc.) being released. There may be an element of hope at the end (and once again, this is purely through the Freud theory,), Freud says that if one can acknowledge their shadow and incorporate it into their conscious self, then a person can become more balanced and happier person. Perhaps by seeing the character of her shadow and mourning the loneliness afterwards, the woman will be able to make a connection with someone and find that element of shadows intertwining once again.
A lot of food for thought in this story.
----Jen G.

Popped said...

I'd love to read this story. It sounds so creepy, the fact that this girl is being followed by a man. I wonder what their final interaction was like--was he embarrassed? Why wasn't she disturbed but just intrigued? Why would a man be just following a girl, whether he knew her or not?

Maybe it's just because I don't know the rest of the piece, but I find it alarming that the girl ends up being intrigued about a man who was doing something out of the ordinary and apparently, if not actually, predatory. It seems almost like the story is condoning this behavior...and if everyone's aloud to be creepy because it's intriguing, then how are we supposed to know who's really up to no good?

--Sarah Lawrence