Neil Gaiman

Start Free Trial

In Neil Gaiman's short story "How to Talk to Girls at Parties," how old are the boys in the story? How old is the narrator as he tells the story? How might the passage of time have influenced the way he remembers and relates events?

In the short story "How to Talk to Girls at Parties" by Neil Gaiman, the narrator and his friend Vic are 14 years old when the events of the story take place. He is telling it 30 year after it happened, so as he tells the story he would be 44 years old. He may have forgotten or changed some details.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the short story "How to Talk to Girls at Parties" by Neil Gaiman, two teenage boys from an all-boys school are wandering dark streets in London looking for a party. Enn, the narrator, writes that they are not quite 15 years old, so they are both 14. According to Enn, his friend Vic is much more experienced with girls than he is. Enn is typical of boys his age. He is curious about girls and strongly desires to get to know some of them better, but at the same time he lacks the confidence that it takes to approach them.

Enn and Vic finally locate a party, which turns out not to be the party they had originally set out to find. The girls inside are lovely yet strange. Vic encourages Enn to talk to some of them, while he hits on one in particular named Stella. Each of the girls that Enn talks to tells him a different story, but he cannot understand what any of them are saying.

This is because the girls are not actually human. They are alien tourists visiting Earth, and they have temporarily assumed human form. As the final girl that Enn talks to whispers to him some alien poetry, Vic grabs him and pulls him out of the house. Something that Stella has said or done has terrified him.

Several times during the story Enn says that he is writing this from the perspective of 30 years in the future. This means that while he is narrating the story he is about 44 years old. He is reflecting back on the encounter from the perspective of middle age. Near the end he says:

This all happened thirty years ago. I have forgotten much, and I will forget more, and in the end I will forget everything...

So he is a middle-aged man telling a story of something that happened to him and his friend when he was a young teenager 14 years old. The passage of time may have caused him to forget or embellish some of the details.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team