|Now||2021||Previous||Articles||Road Essays||Road Reviews||Author||Black Authors||Title||Source||Age||Genre||Series||Format||Inclusivity||LGBTA||Portfolio||Artwork||WIP|
FFCC33: Orphan Uhoria Blue Highway: A comparison of The Sentinel and Three-Quarters Dead: 10/11/18
The examples I'm finding most readily for the orphan uhoria blue highway road narrative are all ghost stories. The salient qualities of this narrative are the solo traveler: an orphan either literally or figuratively; a destination or location out of time; and access to a road that isn't as sure a bet as a railroad or an interstate. As many traditional "Blue Highways" (the US Highway system that predates the Interstate system) were routed through towns, for city centered narratives, I classify them as blue highways.
Two prime examples of this narrative type are Three Quarters Dead by Richard Peck (2010) and The Sentinel by Jeffrey Kovitz (1974). One could even argue that Three Quarters Dead is a YA retelling (minus the Catholicism and homophobia) of The Sentinel.
So how do these two stories fit into "orphan uhoria blue highway"?
First and foremost they have a solo protagonist — one person who can interact with the people and places that are out of time. In both cases the protagonist is a young woman. In the 1974 version, she's an adult. In the 2010 version, she's a high school sophomore. Interestingly, Beck gives his high schooler more agency over her destination than Kovitz does to his.
The uhoria here isn't one so much of the protagonist being out of time or going somewhere out of time. Instead for Allison Parker (the model) and Kerry (the sophomore) it means interacting with people who are out of time — because they are dead. By no means does death have to be the defining feature for uhoria in an FFCC33 narrative, but ghosts are one way of bringing together two disparate times.
Finally there is the "blue highway" which is really a catch all for roads that are well defined but aren't as "on rails" as a railroad or an interstate. While railroads and interstates can (and do) go through big cities, they are better known for cutting straight lines through the wilderness and bypassing society.
In the two examples here, the orphans encounter uhoria inside New York apartments. For Allison, she's been lured into an apartment filled with damned souls who refuse to go to hell and are living (or reliving) their sinful lives in an apartment over a hell-mouth. Allison doesn't figure out the truth of her situation until near the end — as this horror. Mind you two of the villains are lesbians, which says more about the author's own hangups than anything else.
Peck's exploration of death is more effective because Kelly knows her friends are dead. The title is a play on that fact; she was the only survivor of the foursome because she wasn't with them when they crashed. The foursome is three-quarters dead at first because Kelly survived, and later because they are nearly corporeal ghosts who refuse to die until they get to the prom they had so obsessively planned for.
Both uhoric apartments are set within Manhattan. Though Kelly's ghosts are "living" in near past, they also recapitulate the hedonistic playing of a previous trio of girls — one of whom is the surviving, very old Aunt Lily. Their tastes for fancy food and their roller skating parties in the abandoned penthouse bring to mind both the "perverted parties" of The Sentinel as well as the blood sacrifice of "Lullaby of Broadway" from Gold Diggers of 1935 — a much darker version of the song than it's later use in the 1980s Broadway adaptation of 42nd Street.