Read This Story, Annotated by an Elf

"Yep. Whatever else you might say about him, The Hero always had a firm grasp on the obvious."
“Yep. Whatever else you might say about him, The Hero always had a firm grasp on the obvious.”

I’ve been trying this new thing, lately, where I stay far, far away from things on the Internet that are designed to make me angry, and instead concentrating only on the things I like. And lest you think this means I spend virtually no time online, let me assure you that this is not the case! Not at all. In fact, it’s remarkably easy to avoid stories about teenagers picking out multimillion dollar apartments for their families or racist articles about popular TV shows if you try. And it’s just as easy to find great things to read about, things like stick ‘n’ poke tattoo artists or worthwhile Kickstarter projects to fun or why men shouldn’t wear shorts. Seriously, though, once you start looking for good things to read, you start seeing them everywhere.

And sometimes you don’t even have to look very hard, because sometimes they come to you! Such was the case anyway with Charles Yu’s short story, “Hero Absorbs Major Damage,” part of  Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading series. The story itself is a trippy voyage into the world of a video game, and thus it features everything from magic to battles to a Bog of Uncertainty. And then there’s the elf, Fjoork.

Fjoork featured as prominently as any elfin sidekick would in the initial release of “Hero Absorbs Major Damage” (part of Yu’s 2012 release Sorry Please Thank You), but in this newly released version, the elf takes center stage as he annotates the story in a particularly insouciant way. This annotation was made possible by Genius (through which platform you can annotate pretty much anything), and because it’s in Fjoork’s voice (rather than Yu’s or some other, realer person’s) brings a new depth to the story itself. Yu, in particular was pleased with the result, saying, “The thing about this story is that although I turned out many drafts and it ended up going into the collection, I’ve never really felt like I landed the ending,” Yu said. “Which made a good candidate for the project—I was inspired by the possibility of revisiting in from a new perspective, using a new form.”

So, you know, if you’re looking to turn off all the online-noise centering around a break-up of a boy band or the things that rich people spend their money on, consider heading over to Recommended Reading, and seeing what an elf has to say about a hero’s insecurity.

Read the entire story on Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading.

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen


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