I read Neil Gaiman’s Hugo-nominated short story “How to Talk to Girls at Parties” last night before going to bed. It’s an entertaining Bradbury-esque SF story about two London teenage boys who stumble into one party while looking for another one. It gets interesting when Enn tries talking to the girls populating the soiree, but he doesn’t know what the hell they’re talking about. This makes for good laughs, because on the one hand, the reader will figure these girls for aliens, but on the other, girls seem very alien to teenage boys. However, Enn’s friend, Vic, who is a smooth talker and popular with the party’s host, discovers the truth and has to extract Enn from something he unknowingly is unprepared to meet.
Gaiman’s choice to name the narrator, Enn, is appropriate, because he is telling the story from middle age, thirty years after it’s happened. Similarly, Vic’s name could come from victory, Viking, or vic, the Norse word for “where land meets water” [more here], because he’s successful with girls, he’s an invader, and he’s the one that figures out the boundaries and crossroad nature of the party.
The more I read by Gaiman, the more I believe he can do no wrong. I recommend this story wholeheartedly! You can read it online or download an mp3 of Gaiman reading it here. You should definitely check out Gaiman reading his own work–he knows how to tell a story.
Also, if you’re attending Nippon 2007 Worldcon, consider voting for “How to Talk to Girls at Parties” for best short story. More info here.