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First published in Esquire (September 2000): 218-224+.

Posted by mary on August 30, 2000:

I'm not sure about the meaning, but I really picked up on the fact that this guy, who at first seems a little lonesome and isolated, is actually a guy who prefers his life that way. Everyone laments that there's no time to get to know the neighbors, but let's face it, most would rather not be bothered. It's a nation of people with a fear of(or disdain for) intimacy but still want to get that intimacy rush somehow, and you can count on the media to fill that need. I also really noticed that this guy had a touch of germ phobia too- a very watered-down version compared to Stanley or that off-the-scale OCDer in Modern Love. So, for me, the puzzling thing in this story was- how did the guy make the big transformation from hiding in his house to marching into Peep Hall, oblivious to (or liking??) those cameras? Was it cyber love, the male need to protect, or saving the world from censorship? I just couldn't quite figure that one out. Help! 

Posted by TCB on August 30, 2000:

Dear Mary: Love your insightful take. May I answer your query in a word?: Lust. TCB. 

Posted by Jef Tombeur on August 30, 2000:

Dear Mary,
That was very clever of you. However short, this is the first time someone on this MB (and the previous one, the old MB) ever got some kind of real answer from Tom when asking about how you can interpret the meaning of one of his stories, chapters, characters' statements, etc. 

Posted by sandye on August 30, 2000:

can't claim to know the "meaning" of the story, but i do know that out of T's past several recently published stories, this is the one that seemed more like a meal than a snack to me. delightfully wordy, with little sprinklings of TCB's personal interests, and (to my knowledge) his first mention of any kind having to do with virtual life and cyberspace (not to mention efforts, political and otherwise, to censor "objectionable" sites on the internet)...

and in a summer filled with contrived "reality" TV shows like Survivor and, more particularly, Big Brother, where for the price of your monthly internet access alone you have the "privilege" of watching a group of exhibitionists captured 24 hours a day on any of 4 officially sanctioned live camera feeds (6 if you count the hacked-in ones from the control room and the chicken coop!), it's gratifying to read a story like Peep Hall. it's still boy meets girl, but this time the voyeurs are watching...

--Sandye Utley, Cincinnati, Ohio

Last Page Update: 10  March  2001