Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Stream of Golden Thread- - - Jen G.

One of the most hackneyed and unfortunately correct phrases around is “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and the short story, (if a single complicated point of memory can even be called that,) “Rapunzelus Goldilocksii” by Julie Choffel in The Fairytale Review captures a woman’s attempt at putting a single first impression into coherent sounds, smell, and hopes. If my opening run-on sentence has both said a great deal and hardly anything at all, then I have expressed Ms. Choffel’s story fairly well. Though the story begins simply with “She said she liked hair,” the complexity of the writing and the challenge of expressing love immediately becomes clear. The woman simultaneously describes falling in love with a man, finding a puppy, fond memories and broken dreams, and her hopes for the future. I’m actually finding it fairly difficult to explain this more clearly, so here we go: in many respects, hair represents dreams. The title itself references two fairy tales, “Rapunzel” and “Goldie Locks,” where hair is a descriptor of character and independence (Goldie Locks escapes and causes mischief, while Rapunzel uses her hair as a connection to the outside world that she dreams of being a part of) and as such, the woman in the story mentions her comforts, fears, and dreams as she faces the reality of falling in love. The entire short story is a series of run-on fragments: when the woman sees the man, she compares the moment to finding a puppy at a shelter, “Small from far away and big up close,” then runs on into both a comforting memory and hopes for the future, “When she closed her eyes she saw green domestications: green mango sliced onto green plate on checked green tablecloth like the inside of a river.” She races onto her complicated hopes and fears, “What if thievery means you keep the thief? If the thief is a lover, a gardener, a cook? If they come to fill your lockets?” and then slowly moves away from the images and looks at her experiences. When the woman says, “She saw utopia once. It was so expensive. So vain. It made her chop off her hair and plant it,” she intriguingly casts off her fantasies when she finds them superficial, and it is with this earthiness that the woman is able to move forward and find love. Ending, “That’s where the man grew, in the lengthy yellowy verdure. Small from far away and big up close,” the reader can now see the evolution of a woman’s love and maturity; despite some readings of the characters of Rapunzel and Goldie Locks, the two women never become fully independent, earthly characters, and so, by casting off her dreams, the woman steps away from fairytale flatness and blooms into a human that can fully embrace love in all its flawed glory. Though it has been forever since I studied the classification of living things, the very title, “Rapunzelus Goldilocksii,” can be read as either a type of plant (symbolizing the growth of the woman” or a new species of woman whose ancestors, Rapunzel and Goldie Locks, never left their dream world to experience reality. A single memory is not so simple as to be placed into a sentence; there is a whole chain of senses, experiences, and other memories behind that second. The difficulty of expressing this history, as it were, has resulted in such wondering hackneyed but true lines as, “A picture is worth a thousand words;” “Rapunzelus Goldilocksii,” however, is one woman’s attempt at expressing the true workings of that ambiguous image.

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