The Interview by Matthew S. Dent


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Post April 18, 2013, 11:04:35 AM

The Interview by Matthew S. Dent

This is short, does a good job of quickly setting the scene, and also does a good job of creating a moral dilemma for the main character. However, I think the main character makes his decision a little too quickly; a little more deliberation on his part might have made his decision to pull the trigger more believable for me, and would have added to the tension in the story. I also felt a little let down by the ending. I was expecting more of a hint at what the job would be, something sinister, or supernatural, but definitely something he was now locked into after the decision he made. I didn't get that feeling with this ending. It's a nice quick well constructed read though.

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Post April 18, 2013, 12:17:31 PM

Re: The Interview by Matthew S. Dent

I think this is more a vignette than a real story. All the way through, there was a maddening familiarity to the style. Maybe I've read something else by Mr Dent or maybe there is a certain British-ness to it. I am not sure. However, it was clear, it flowed, I liked it.

I'm not sure I agree about the protagonist, Mark Slater, coming too quickly to the decision to follow the final test instructions. He seems to rationalise it quickly but realistically. It made me think of the Stanley Miligram Obedience to Authority tests from the 60's. It's plausible that a company might seek that in employees but without knowing more about the position applied for, it's difficult to say.

The fact that the man confirming that the Protagonist had passed the test was identical to the interviewer adds a certain surreal quality to it, which was interesting, but only leads to more questions.

It reminded me a little of an old joke:

A man applying to MI5 (UK equivalent of the FBI) is taken to a room and told he must perform one final test. They bring in his wife, blindfolded, and handcuff her to a chair. They hand him a revolver and tell him he must shoot her dead, then they leave the room.

After a moment, there is a single shot, then a pause, then five more in quick succession.

After several more minutes the man opens the door and comes out. He is breathing heavily and covered in sweat.

"The gun was full of blanks," he says. "I had to beat the bitch to death instead."
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Post April 18, 2013, 12:39:56 PM

Re: The Interview by Matthew S. Dent

I think the protagonist was (a) desperate to get the job, and (b) clinging to the belief that the gun was not loaded. He then had to accept that he had apparently killed the interviewer... As for a supernatural element -- why did the second company representative have the same mismatched eyes as the now-dead interviewer? What was this place -- a branch office of Wolfram and Hart (Buffy reference)?
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Post April 18, 2013, 12:52:46 PM

Re: The Interview by Matthew S. Dent

I know the protagonist was desperate for a job, I just would have liked a little more on this point. I think a little more back and forth in the mind of the protagonist before he pulled the trigger would have built up the tension and made the story a little more powerful. As to the identical nature of the interviewer and the man who comes into the room, of course this hints at something very strange going on. Are they clones? Are they the same supernatural being who has reincorporated himself to take the protagonist to his new life of corporate torment somewhere in the ninth circle? Are they aliens who are disguised as humans? Is the protagonist in the Matrix? I don't know, but I would have liked a hint in what direction this was going, just a hint I think would have been enough, for me anyway.

BTW: Funny joke Verse. :D
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Post April 18, 2013, 11:17:04 PM

Re: The Interview by Matthew S. Dent

Verse,
As for the "maddening familiarity of style", it rings like a few writers from the 60's-70's that I roughly recall from my childhood days reading used SciFi books for a dollar or two from Annie's Bookstop.

The closest one that comes right to mind is Damon Knight. The trick is that the story just hints at eerie things, and leaves it all off the page on purpose. For example I'll suggest "To Serve Man". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_Serve_Man

The other might be Frederic Brown.

Plus this story is quite funny given people's struggles looking for work. Can you imagine being faced with *that* as an interview?!

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Post April 18, 2013, 11:23:05 PM

Re: The Interview by Matthew S. Dent

I don't know if I'd use the word "funny" Tao. Maybe "tragic?" :)

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Post April 19, 2013, 08:39:54 AM

Re: The Interview by Matthew S. Dent

davidsonhero wrote:I don't know if I'd use the word "funny" Tao. Maybe "tragic?" :)


Heh definitely funny in my view. Because I'm there myself. It's a great swipe at how surreal the whole job seek process is. "Oh great, so I send out 142 resumes, and this is the only interview I get, and now he puts a gun on the table and wants me to shoot him??! Really??!"
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Post May 08, 2013, 07:24:46 PM

Re: The Interview by Matthew S. Dent

Davidsonhero wrote:
I don't know, but I would have liked a hint in what direction this was going, just a hint I think would have been enough, for me anyway.
I disagree completely. The real kick of this story is the final scene, and the fact that NOTHING is explained or even hinted at. The reader suddenly has a whole new universe of possibilities to wonder about.

I liked it!
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