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Our own texts...

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  • Our own texts...

    When you need a writer "really bad," here's a "really bad" writer... I know I feel that way when I look at draft after draft of my own work.

    If people want to discuss their individual efforts for PX-1 -- what they're happy about, what they're unhappy about, whether they think they were successful or not -- they should feel free to do so in this thread.

    I'll move my discussion of my own texts to this thread in a minute.

    LSN

  • #2
    A short discussion -- and chance to pile on -- of the stories I contributed to this issue. I'm not bothered by negative criticism, and I certainly don't need to be encouraged.

    I'm reasonably happy with the story called "Per aspera ad astra." It renders a certain type of individual that I've too frequently encountered in the technology industry, and in Silicon Valley in particular. The plot could probably be reduced to the formula "Hubris in search of Nemesis." It was also an opportunity to indulge in a bit of Schadenfreude. The ending strikes me as a bit too abrupt, but there were reasons within the context of the larger work from which it was excerpted that I had to avoid much more development at that point. The prose needs some additional tinkering, and there are some egregious typos in the magazine version, but I feel immense sympathy for our poor, gibbering Perdix, and feel that a few typos in the text are an acceptable price to pay.

    The story called "The Naked Stranger" seems less satisfactory to me. It was excerpted from later in the same larger work, and it shows more. The first page, which was devised for this publication, feels a bit leaden with exposition; perhaps I tried to tell the reader too much in a small compass. The technical problem I was trying to finesse here was to introduce a large number of characters at the beginning of a very short work. The task of introduction is handled differently in the larger work -- more space makes things easier. I found the ending, once it had grown cold, a bit weak. If I had the chance, I'd rewrite it. Pity poor Perdix, who has put up with my endless rounds of seemingly small revisions...

    I feel that "Per aspera..." is more effective than "The Naked Stranger," in part because it tries to do less in a similar space.

    Any more critical comments?

    I'm moving this posting to the new thread devised for this purpose.

    LSN

    Comment


    • #3
      Does anyone have any comments on the essay by William Myre called "28 Hours in Los Angeles"?

      I thought it was amusing, in a gonzo-journalism sort of way. He doesn't seem very visual, but he's got a nice sense of irony. I lived in Los Angeles for 8 years, so I know the city pretty well. The vision of the city he presented seemed somewhat distorted to the point of being phantasmagorical. This was probably intended, I would imagine.

      Anyone else have any reactions to this essay?

      ---

      I found the essay on the Cierva autogyros fairly interesting. That was Perdix's work, I believe? (I don't have a copy any longer, so I can't check.)

      LSN

      Comment


      • #4
        Let's get started somehow, and why not with "Per aspera ad astra"?
        I liked the style and tone you wrote it in, I like the observations there, as I'm one who loves studying human behaviour. Yet normally I wouldn't for long bear with such a bastard like Malwick if I didn't expect that sooner or later I am rewarded with something for doing so. At least Schadenfreude or a sudden realisation that the others are even greater bastards and that he transforms into somebody I can relate to better. Or even feel sorry for. I think it is the excellent description that keeps my attention from straying, the man is too grossly ridiculous (yet real and no doubt prototypical of many all around us!) for me to care for him much. I admit surprise at what happens at the end ... the turn to "another reality", but after having read "The Joke" which I hope you will publish in its revised form one day, I bear in mind you DO such surprising things!
        Of the test-tube situation in "The Naked Stranger" into which the first story is suddenly sucked like down an unexpected, uncharted waterfall, I am not too sure what to make yet, I soon expected the behaviour of the confined persons to mirror the situation they are in more precisely. You have the Guantanamo-like maltreatment of not being informed of how long, why and to what end you're locked up. Then an even more "naked" prisoner (is he one?) apparitions among them. I thought they'd give the stranger the same treatment that is in disagreement of the rights they demand for themselves. But all but one (what's Dr. Gross' "thing" really by the way?) rough him up physically, ultimately (ATTENTION SPOILERS, don't read beyond THIS POINT) murder him. I don't get the symbolisms right yet. While most inmates of the public restroom are of vile character or at least easily impressed by authority and therefore prone to be commanded around, the "Naked Stranger" has no personality as he doesn't have a clue about himself.
        But I'm damn' interested to find out how this goes on, I must say. I find the situation interesting. Funny enough, I frequently have fantasies of the subway I'm on being suddenly beamed into some other dimension and I begin to "scan" the fellow passengers in an attempt to imagine what dynamics would result with the coincidental group on board.

        A first reaction, not more. In time I'll comment on more of the contributions in PX
        Google ergo sum

        Comment


        • #5
          I liked both pieces.Your work always has this deeply ironical view of the human race without ever being misanthropic. per aspera ad astra seems to indicate we've met the same people in the same companies
          I agree with you that the ending of the naked stranger may be a bit hasty but your characters definitely have a way of surprising the reader without losing their coherence.

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks for the kind words from both of you.

            The story "per aspera ad astra" was what is called a "pianola story": it popped into my head practically full-blown. I sat down and wrote it one evening in about an hour, with the thought that Perdix might be able to use it. A few days later, I went back and looked at it and added another 1,100 words. I believe I improved it.

            It was conceived to fit within the context of a larger work, as an "introductory" passage for one of the characters. There are similar passages for all the other major characters.)This was one that I thought could stand on its own, more or less. I *know* the "Jeff Malwick" character in real life, and have known him for 14 years. Unfortunately, he has not been spirited away in the fashion described in the story. Also unfortunately, I intervened at a critical time in his life and prevented him from losing his job at "Phobos Systems." Mutual acquaintances in the years since have told me I did the wrong thing. "The quality of mercy is not strained..." but sometimes I wonder.

            The real-life prototype, like his fictional doppelganger, possesses insufficient self-awareness to recognize himself if I presented him with the story. His buddies would figure it out right away.

            Most people who have read the story (whether they liked it or not) have understood it pretty well. Both Dee and my wife, on reading it, made some similar observations about how the compulsive introduction of "high end" products by name was used to characterize the central character's obsession with status, and how it was in various ways flawed even by his own logic. My wife observed, for example, that Malwick owned a canary-yellow Hummer, the Hummer being a statement of his supposed testicularity, and the canary-yellow being a "not really" to the same question. She's quite an astute reader.

            I have less to say about "The Naked Stranger," because I'm less happy with it. L'Etranger's comments about the Guantanamo parallels are 100% on target. I'll leave it at that.

            I am not a misanthope, agreed. I like *people*. Automatons, programmed by idأ©es rأ©أ§us, sometimes disgust me, and generally make me impatient. *People* use the intelligence they have, and are not bundles of conditioned responses.

            LSN

            Comment


            • #7
              I'm not sure about my story because I haven't read it in a long time but from what I can remember I think I may have rushed it a bit. It could really have done with a lot more time spent with editing and redrafting. Ah well, whats done is done I guess. I have another story in the works at the moment which is a lot better and I think I will spend quite a lot of time editing that one.

              Comment


              • #8
                Hawklord,

                S_Ombre read your story and said she liked it. I thought it was pretty well constructed, but it was a bit -- perhaps "slight" is the correct word. That's okay, but I'd like to see you try something a little more ambitious the next time out.

                The prose and dialogue seemed fine. All of us can always strive to handle those things better, so I understand your comments above about feeling you needed to work on it some more; but the question is whether it was effective. I believe the story was effective. I think it was also a perfectly suitable topic for you to select, and that probably helped.

                Summary: good job.

                By the way, since you read German (as I understand it), you ought to take a look at "Bitte Kleinschneiden" and tell us what you think. I read the story before it was published, and I have written to L'Etranger about the qualities I liked. Another reader has been mordenkainen. Your opinion in this is important. I think it's a simple story, but it makes a sophisticated use of irony; it's also very visual in its orientation. So if you get a chance, give it a try.

                LSN

                Comment


                • #9
                  أ€ mordenkainen: since I served as your first-line editor, do you want me to discuss your story again? You've probably heard more from me than you want to hear about your story, but if you want to discuss it, let me know.

                  LSN

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by L_Stearns_Newburg
                    Hawklord,

                    By the way, since you read German (as I understand it), you ought to take a look at "Bitte Kleinschneiden" and tell us what you think. I read the story before it was published, and I have written to L'Etranger about the qualities I liked. Another reader has been mordenkainen. Your opinion in this is important. I think it's a simple story, but it makes a sophisticated use of irony; it's also very visual in its orientation. So if you get a chance, give it a try.

                    LSN
                    Is that story in P-X? I'll need to wait till I can manage to get a copy if so. I've been away for a week so I'm not sure whats going on at the moment and I am a little disorganised. As to reading the story, I would love to but it could take a while as my German reading skills are not exactly 100% perfect! I will give it a bash though, and tell you what my opinions on it are.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hi, I don't think you need have 100% reading skills in German to understand "Bitte Kleinschneiden" (found another typo by the way now, hehe).
                      It is set in a not too exotic world as we all have seen movies that are set in the American Midwest, or have even been there, so there are no riddles in that, the rest is an entertaining (I hope) and ironic revenge story trying to fathom one man's behaviour and the others' reaction to it and the changing of certainties.... There are couple of words and even a radio commercial in English in the short story.

                      Your story surprised me first by the fact it takes a mother's point of view (after reading the bios and watching your postings here a little I surmised you yourself are not a parent yet), and that
                      ATTENTION SPOILERS - OTHERS DON'T READ BEYOND THIS BAT
                      it ends well, which I liked and hoped, but was'nt to be expected in the context of the last decades and current fiction ... the stories hardly ever end well The theme and social situation are haunting and can be regarded as a warning that is not altogether premature!
                      Looking forward to see what you come up with next.
                      Oh and say "Hello" for me to Edinburgh that I so like, but haven't been back to for over ten years.
                      Google ergo sum

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Yes! To Edinburgh, and all its wonderful, pultiphagous inhabitants!

                        LSN

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          We ought to get some comments from our very own fou d'un Franأ§ais, mordenkainen. His story was an interesting rather dystopian idea coupled with some fancy technical experiments. The shifting POV, and the objectification of the narrative POV at one point by using the form of the piأ¨ce de theأ¢tre, produced some Brechtian-style alienation.

                          Would he care to say a few words about his contribution?

                          LSN

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thanks LSN.
                            I'm not really satisfied with my piece, that was hurriedly thrown together from a draft intended for a much longer story. The political-philosophical content ends up taking too much room AND not being elaborated enough...The psychology and character building almost disappeared.
                            And of course the style is limited by my crippled english language skills. I'm working on another adventure of the same, er, hero, though. I feel I owe him another opportunity :lol:

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Do it in French, first.

                              When you're done, together we can do a translation job.

                              I don't volunteer to do such things lightly. You and L'Etranger
                              have a free pass.

                              LSN

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