I WANT YOU AROUND
February 4, 2017 at 6:13 pm Chaos Mckenzie ( User Karma: 104 ) says:
I want you around – Rachel Rosenberg Good show… very different, refreshing even. I didn’t really connect with it, the Ramones are a gap in my large music collection and I honestly started looking the songs up to see if I was missing something. There’s something about these stories that cite popular references, I’m not sure I connect with it or get it. To me, I would have preferred you to make me feel those songs through the atmosphere and action of your blurbs, instead of being directed to a feeling by the section titles. You use a lot of pop culture reference which I think weakens the impact of your otherwise punchy and exciting tale, you have real poetic pace to your stuff, and if I hadn’t gotten tripped up by the Ramones, I might have liked it more. Errr, it’s odd when you start writing thoughts about stories ranking above yours, it’s like you second guess yourself and worry about sounding like a poor looser or sour grapes or whatever… hence a long ramble to say I liked your story but I don’t know the Ramones very well.
February 18, 2017 at 7:34 pm Susan Read says: I Want You Around, by Rachel Rosenberg
This story managed to grab my attention (amongst the HERD last weekend) with its frenetic energy and frantic pace that mimics both 80’s punk
music and the euphoria of early, infatuated love. However, this particularly captivating format insists that you limit what you say, and sometimes I would say it feels as though you haven’t said enough.
Similar to my thoughts on Peter’s story, I had trouble relating to these characters. Being sarcastic and cynical, I think, is a very difficult thing to relate in writing. Holden Caulfield was an asshole too, but we spend enough time with him in Catcher in the Rye that it allows us to understand (sort of, arguably, depends who you ask) why. Note: I don’t have a big solution to this, and I’ve received similar criticism of my own characters. New topic: How do we make our assholes appealing? (Come on, BP, that deserves top comment!) A couple of specific notes: “Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World” — I don’t really get the purpose of this section. It reads like a list of places travelled to, saying nothing of the places themselves, or even the experience of travelling. It just fell a bit flat for me.
“I’d hug my computer at night like it was my friend, the lifeline I had to friends and family across the ocean”. I really like this, but I wonder if there is a more powerful metaphor about technology and relationships here, that gets softened somehow by the use of simile. Does that make sense? I just wonder if the metaphor could go a step further, I guess.
On a general note, I feel that – especially given the short (flash?) format – the writing could be tightened up in places. “London is the sort of place where people need to work constantly to live. Medical school is the kind of school where people need to study constantly to pass.” Maybe the repetition here is intentional, trying to show the grind of London, but the sentences just read a bit clunky.
The story’s sections, as snapshots of the relationship, create moments of great imagery (tapping crumbs like ashes), but do they show us enough of the couple to make us care for them or in the end hurt for them? I suspect that a little more information—a snippet of a conversation, or simply more of these photo-like images—would help me to know and understand these people better.
Finally, I have to say that this line really stuck in my craw: “Departures is easily the saddest place in the world.” I assume the hyperbole is on purpose, (maybe even a Post-modernization of Romanticism’s Pathetic Fallacy?) but as a sentiment, as a line in a story, it doesn’t sell. It even potentially undercuts the speaker’s genuine pain and emotion. Maybe because you doubled down on it –“easily the saddest”–this just suddenly makes the narrator seem naive and self-absorbed. Are we all naive and self-absorbed when we’re in love? Damn straight. But, I don’t know, I think there is a way to capture that “world is ending” feeling a bit differently, in a way that will not jar from the story’s purpose, or turn people off of your character before she flies away.
Those are all my notes! I really do admire this story’s style and spirit. Honoured to be in the ring with you, Ms Rosenberg.
February 19, 2017 at 12:41 pm Rachel Rosenberg says: Hiya Susan,
Thank you so much for this detailed and thoughtful critique. It looks like you are kicking my ass, so soon you shall be rocking and rolling with P.D. in the final round. If I lose, I plan to not go on the computer for a week- in honour of you and PD I promise to live the life you two cannot live!