The Man in the Pepper Mill


  • First publication
    • The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, 1996
  • Wolfe collection(s)


A boy finds himself shrunken and within his dead sister's dollhouse on certain nights. THe only other living person he can see is a lighthouse keeper, since the pepper mill on the kitchen counter has become that lighthouse.


  • The magic transformation of plastic figures into real ones strongly resembles The Indian in the Cupboard.
  • There may also be a reference to the play Tiny Alice.
  • The name Tippy may be another nod to Tip in the Oz books. See The Eyeflash Miracles. If so, it's another sign of gender conflicts -- a boy named for a female writer, with a pink dinosaur toy. He needs a strong male role model like the man in the pepper mill.
  • Tippy's (and Cathy's) plan to bring his mother together with the lighthouse keeper seems to have worked. He has converted the pink plastic stegosaurus to a real one, and now the family will need the man's help with the press.
  • Sources of quotes
  • Meanings of names
  • References to other works
  • Theories about what happens under the surface, what the narrator isn't telling us, who the narrator is and when and why s/he is telling the story, what the whole thing "means," etc.
    If there are multiple or competing theories, each one should be given a name with a three-bang (!!!) header; if the page begins to get out-of-hand from the size of these, as could happen in a few cases, they should be shuffled off to their own page(s).
  • Etc.

Unresolved Questions

  • Was it A or was it B, or was it X or Z?
  • Was it he or was it she, or was it you or me?
  • Who dunnit?
  • Did the Star Child really start WWIII at the end of 2001?

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