(urth) Short Story 31: The Toy Theater

Matthew Keeley matthew.keeley.1 at gmail.com
Wed Jun 6 14:54:16 PDT 2012

To jump ahead almost forty years, Wolfe's "On a Vacant Face a Bruise" in
the Strange Birds chapbook features some returning characters from Toy
Theater. "Vacant Face" was inspired by the puppet-like artwork that
illustrates the chapbook, but I was still surprised to see figures from
this obscure story reappear several decades later. I'd need to re-read both
stories to see how they interrelate, but it does strike me as significant
that the puppets have clearly taken long-term residence in Wolfe's mind.

Info on Strange Birds:


On Wed, Jun 6, 2012 at 12:45 PM, Marc Aramini <marcaramini at yahoo.com> wrote:
>> Toy Theater
>> RESONANCE WITH OTHER WORKS: The line between imitation and the real is a
>> theme that runs throughout decades of Wolfe’s work, from  “Changeling”
>> to “The HORARS of War” to Fifth Head and Short Sun – and sometimes there is
>> qualitatively no difference in the final analysis between that which
>> imitates and that which is imitated.****
>> MY FAVORITE INTERPRETATION: I do think that the narrator is a human, but
>> a puppet to forces that he doesn’t understand in a big masquerade, where it
>> is conceivable that Antonio or someone besides Stromboli is pulling the
>> strings.  So he is not free and does not understand what power pulls on
>> his strings, though it is most likely a faithless love.****
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