Sunday, October 12, 2008

"All unattended luggage will be removed by the airport security"

"Wait" was one of my favorite stories that we've read, simply because I'm sick of all the death and insanity and weepy and overall tragic qualities of the previous tales (Tits-Up and Sonny's Blues, I'm looking at you). Finally, we have a darkly humorous and unpretentious story that does not take itself seriously, and knows that it's a story, plain and simple - one meant to entertain, not to make some deep and profound statement about humanity or poverty or crazy girls who kill cats.

It starts off slowly, with a droll style and matter-of-fact tone of description, nearly devoid of adverbs. As a sidenote, I found it cool that the loudspeaker voice in English is described as having a mix of Portuguese, Dutch and Malay accents - Malaysia was conquered by the Portuguese, Dutch, and British in its history. Represent!!! Then, right out of nowhere, the absurd humor kicks in. Anything and everything you can think of that is over the top is thrown in for good measure.

If you've ever been stuck at an airport waiting for a delayed flight, then you'll appreciate Kesey's wit and humor. You start to think "What else could go wrong?!"...and then Fate comes and craps all over you. This past summer, I had a brief night transit in Singapore on my way to the States, and when I found out that my flight was delayed to the next morning, those same words flashed through my mind: What else could go wrong?! Naturally, the transit hotel was fully booked, all the nice comfy couches were taken up by vagrants and passengers, and as soon as I fell asleep in a hard corner clutching my bags, the airport security and its resident guard dog woke me up and asked for my passport, because apparently I looked like a bum.

Not quite the same oomph as being awoken by a meteor or the military, but Kesey's humor resonated with me because of my previous experiences. What's also great about "Wait" is the use of racial, cultural, sporting and even literary stereotypes - a spoof of the global village that we've been harping on about this millenium. And let's face it, we're not bigots if we say this, but stereotypes are just freakin hilarious. "The Latvians are accused of doping, the Nigerians of bribery" is comic genius on par with any bad (or good, however you wish to see it) stereotype joke you can think of. Each character leaps from the page, jostling for attention, making a piece of literary fiction come alive and making you laugh at the fun you're having on this wild ride through airport security.


Adam Becerra said...

I agree with the fact that a lot of the insanity and chaos coming from such a boring start brings this story to the top of my favorites. I also agree with the entertainment value that is brought from this story, that it is not meant to be a serious story as many others before it were.

Allan Swan said...

I also have to agree i think this story has given quite a comedic end to our short fiction class. This story too entails death however in a more entertaining and humorous way.