Spectral Letters and Other Stories [08/28/2019]

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Craftyatom
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Re: The Kintsugi Club and Other Stories [08/28/2019]

Post by Craftyatom » Thu Sep 26, 2019 5:58 pm

Regarding American Spirit:

I proofread this, way back when.  Recently went back over it so I could leave my thoughts here, for various reasons.

If I didn't know better, I'd say that the opening is far too dreary for what it is.  The entire sequence paints such a quaint picture, and yet it's described not just as melancholy, but straight up disgusting.  The weather is oppressive and invasive, while Suzu and Takashi are described like animals - frantic this and visceral that.  But I know better.  I know how much you love your foreshadowing.  Some of it might be that Suzu has a particularly dark perspective on her narration, but surely the effect on the reader was intentional.

As for the climax of the story, while I had no doubts as to what was being implied - the various things scratching at the back of Suzu's mind made it rather clear - what actually happened in the moment was, initially, a complete and total mystery.  I had to piece together what had happened after the fact.  Now, in one sense, that could be a way of putting the reader in Suzu's shoes.  But I don't think it was - we don't really get to see her go through that process or realization, despite the story being told from her point of view.

But then, why was this vital centerpiece of the story so ambiguous?  While I'm not usually one to criticize writers for purple prose - I think it's a wonderful and creative part of writing - it may have been taken a little too far here.  I mean, really, as soon as one starts using whitespace creatively, they're unlikely to get a good reaction from me.  To be fair, that ruling probably has something to do with my tastes in poetry, but regardless, I think you crossed the line from "poetic beauty" to "poetic mess".  As you've said, however, this was all done in an attempt to not cross some other lines - not the way I would've done it, but I can see what you were going for.

The remainder of the story almost feels too lively and normal in comparison - I expected Suzu to curl up in a ball and end the story there, given the depressing theme so far.  And yet, we get a peek into the process of recovery from the event - she even considers going to talk to Takashi, which blew my mind when I first read it, but (somewhat ironically) makes more sense because it wasn't her fault.  She never decided to do that to him, so she doesn't feel bad about him, just sorry for him.  That was a nice surprise to me, given that I essentially wrote him off once he bailed on Suzu before she had even said anything else (something which itself might have been made a bit more confusing by the stylistic choices for the event).  Saki's role was kind of telegraphed, but still nice.  I expected Suzu to be more vehemently opposed to the smell of cigarettes, but she plays that entire exchange pretty calmly.

Overall, this was an interesting story about a difficult topic.  Some of your stylistic choices made for incredibly potent moments, while others reduced the story's readability and broke immersion.  All in all, however, it was a good (if haunting) read, with a lot of emotion (from characters with so little exposition) and brilliant imagery.  Even if I just feel empty each time I read it.

Oh, and clearly my proofreading wasn't perfect, since I found some mistakes.  Well, only one mistake in the story, but still.
Feurox wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:21 am
If you enjoy listening to music whilst you listen, then I'd have a few suggestions for this.
Listening to music while listening?  That's difficult.  Not everyone has such skill.
Feurox wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:21 am
wright iron gates
Iron gates that can fly for short distances, but become hopelessly obsolete as the state of the art advances? :P
Main route: COM(promise)
One-shots: Crafty's One-Shots (Brief Exchanges, Dark Winter Sky, Dreamy, Project Blue Curtain, and more!)
Old poetry: Google Drive Collection

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Feurox
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Location: England, Oxfordshire

Spectral Letters [10/05/2019]

Post by Feurox » Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:07 pm

This short letter was written in response to this week's book club meeting. You can see the conversation here: Book Club.

I'd place this letter in my 'Requiem for a Heart-Song' timeline.

Spectral Letters
Dear Iwanako,

I’m sorry this letter has taken so long to reach you; the truth is that your letter stirred up feelings in me I’d thought I’d long forgotten, and I’ve found it quite difficult to reconcile those feelings within myself. Still, I wish I had worked up the nerve to write back sooner, I don’t want to leave things unsaid, not anymore.

I’m glad to hear our class has mostly stuck together, and you have my condolences for getting stuck with Mr Tachibana for homeroom classes. I have some particularly unpleasant memories of his grey and grotty beard; I hope he’s managed to clean the crumbs out of it by now. I admit, it is quite peculiar to think that we’re seniors now. Maybe especially so for you and I, after everything that has happened this year. I’m not sure I can explain it, but I feel much older now than I did back then, even if it’s been less than a year.

I started seeing someone a few months ago. We have similar conditions, and she’s actually the one who encouraged me to respond to your letter. I think you’d like her, if you were able to withstand her ceaseless optimism long enough to get to know her, or if you managed to get a word in between her countless questions. Part of what attracted me to her was how inquisitive she can be, but I imagine that meeting you would prompt thousands of questions that neither of us want to answer.

I’m not going to dance around the true subject of this letter.

I’ve spent too much of this year thinking back to my stay in the hospital, about those four bland walls, the same selection of books, the passing faces, some leaving for the rest of their lives, some never leaving again. That person back then, it wasn’t me. Or maybe it was, but it wasn’t the me I am now. I know there was nothing either of us could say to one another, there was no remedy for how I felt. Even if you were to go back to those quiet days, and tell me to not give up on myself, I’m not sure it would have mattered. The person you were talking to back then, they were already dead.

I know that sounds morbid, but I think it was necessary. For a while I felt like a walking corpse, someone living on borrowed time. Even when I arrived here, at my new school, it was like the person I was had long gone. I guess I never realised how much of who I am depended on where I was, the people that surrounded me. Sometimes it’s like my memories of the time before my heart attack aren’t my own, they’re like old family videos of a time I don’t really remember, I recognise the people, the times, but they’re like fleeting shapes. I know that sounds very nebulous, but I’m not sure how else to explain it. If I could go back to those quiet days in February, I wouldn’t. If could go back to before them, to my time as a “normal” high-schooler, I wouldn’t. There’s no going back, and there’s nothing to go back for.

The truth, Iwanako, is that the Hisao you wrote this letter for doesn’t exist.

Whatever we had, whatever we were, it died with the old me in that hospital bed. I think that’s for the best. I may have been drifting during those quiet days, but you were sinking alongside me. I used to think you abandoned me in that hospital, but I was wrong. Perhaps unknowingly, you set me free. I only hope you can do the same for yourself.

We all have a choice. Look forward, or look back.

I hope you’ve made the same choice that I have.

Once yours,
Hisao Nakai.

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