How to Talk to Girls at Parties is a 28 page story which parodies the awkwardness and confusion of teen life - more specifically, learning to talk to the opposite sex, who seem so alien to us at this confusing age - with a sci-fi/horror twist.
Two teenage boys - one exuding a cool confidence, and the other full of nerves - head out to attend a house party, where they hope to chat up some girls. They accidentally attend the wrong party however, and when they start to work their magic on the girls there, it seems that something is not quite right...
This story is amusing, endearing and very clever; Gaiman’s writing is flawless and perfectly captures the essence of the characters’ youth, naivete and inexperience. It is a rare sort of tale, managing to be both disturbing and poignant at the same time, and can either be taken very literally in order for it to be read as a full blown science fiction story, or it can just as easily be taken on a figurative level to render it realistic.
How to Talk to Girls at Parties can be found in Gaiman’s collection ‘Fragile Things’, the entirety of which I have not yet read. I downloaded this story for free as an ebook promoting Gaiman’s new publication, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and I don’t think it is available on its own anymore; but if you can get hold of it I would recommend it.
My other Neil Gaiman reviews: