com­ments sec­tion

Broken Pencil - - Deathmatch -

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!

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