Saturday, 2 January 2010

Quid Pro Quo by Manna Francis (Part 2)

Todays post will cover the short story Pancakes. It was going to be Surprises as well, but there is so much packed into Pancakes that if I tried to cover Surprises as well it would be an enormous post.

Pancakes is I think the first story to focus specifically on the relationship between Warrick and Toreth, rather than having other issues play a major part in the plot. It's probably my favourite story in the book for that reason and also because it introduces my favourite animal character (Mentioned below).

Their relationship has rules. One of which is that Toreth is not to talk about his work as an interrogator because Warrick doesn't want to know about it. Pancakes opens with Toreth sitting down to dinner with Warrick and starting to talk about his day at work. Warrick points out to him that he's asked several times for Toreth not to mention it.
"...I'll be very busy for the next few days, so don't bother to call."
And then he walked out.
Remember what I said yesterday about the power dynamics of the relationship? What's interesting about this book is that it's really the first exploration of that, we start to get deeper into the heads of both characters.

Toreth has a short attention span and if he wants something/someone he wants them now. That doesn't mean he isn't capable of patience and self-discipline (check out the review of Mirror, Mirror coming soon). What we start to see here is how much 'power' (for want of a better word) that Warrick has in the relationship.

When Warrick leaves it throws Toreth.
When the fuck had Warrick started being the one who could walk out?
And rather than picking up someone else and going home with them, he proceeds to get drunk...very drunk...and decides he's going to go and see Warrick. Which apart from anything else lets Warrick know that Toreth has looked at his security file. Warrick is not impressed with a drunk Toreth but takes care of him through a monster of a hangover.

The next morning is quite an intimate scene, probably the closest to a love scene so far - which makes Toreth supremely uncomfortable. His way of handling it is not to see Warrick and to fuck his way round the city. Which leads to my favourlite line in this story. So cutting, and so illustrative of their relationship. Toreth will never admit how much he wants Warrick but sometimes you can't hold back...
"Tell Warrick I said hello."
Toreth nearly choked. "What?"
"After hearing his name so many times, I feel like I know him."
And I take a little break from the review here to mention that Pancakes is the story in which my favourite animal in a piece of fiction EVER! is introduced. YFEB - or Bastard for short. Sara, Warrick's admin has adopted a stray cat. Possibly the only animal that makes Toreth nervous.
"It looks like a badly stitched-together traffic accident in a scabby black fur coat two sizes too large. Why are its teeth sticking out like that?"
It loves Sara and Sara loves it (him), the rest of humanity however, needs to tread carefully.

Back to the review. Warrick realises, I think, that Toreth is never going to see him without a little subterfuge. And so an accidental meeting is arranged. Important because Toreth also meets Dillian (Warrick's sister) for the first time here.

Sara also cautions Warrick to be careful with Toreth. An idea I think that until she mentions it hadn't occurred to him that he needed to be. When Toreth finds out he was 'tricked' into meeting Warrick he is not happy.

But what this does is show the fragility of their relationship. And how they are both acting under assumptions about the other. I think their relationship will remain 'fragile' - I don't mean not strong because it grows with every story but in some ways it remains a minefield. For me this is the story where it starts to go from fucking to something more. Manna Francis packs more into a 35-page short story than some authors manage to get into a novel.


Kris said...

I love that 3rd quote. That's definitely a keeper. LOL.

I'm gonna have to order this today.


LesleyW said...

Kris - YAY! Successful pimpage!