Trabuco Road, December 2006

Note: This post was imported from an old content-management system, so please excuse any inconsistencies in formatting.
“Blank Sexzra” by Vylar Kaftan

The “hero” of Vylar Kaftan’s “Blank Sexra” is an ordinary man struggling with the reality that he is an ordinary man.  As he drifts through his ordinary life, experiencing ordinary disappointments and ordinary mishaps, he desperately seeks order in the chaos, deconstructing ordinary patterns to reassure himself that his existence is not governed by random forces.  Every night he plays the popular board game, Scrabble, by himself, and the letter tiles arrange themselves into symbols of his daily defeats.

This brief story is a quick and easy read, but like all literary pieces, it demands that the reader decode it to some degree.  Fortunately, the author uses something very familiar to most readers—Scrabble—to help convey the underlying themes.  In true literary fashion, the piece attempts to conjure meaning from the meaningless, much like the protagonist himself.  While the clear prose and brisk pacing will keep a reader from losing interest, the uninspiring protagonist, lack of dialogue, and absence of real character interaction all contribute to a rather bland plotline.  The story’s perplexing ending will likely leave most readers feeling a little… blank.

Tangent readers should also note that the speculative element in this piece is very understated; in fact, it really isn’t identifiable.  Though the protagonist is introduced as “a superhero with a cape no one can see,” this seems to be a symbolic description rather than a literal one, or perhaps an indication of the character’s own delusions.  The ending hints at a speculative event, but it’s difficult to understand what is actually happening there.  In short, this piece could easily “pass” for mainstream.