When I was still a boy wrapped in a mansized body I had an opportunity to spend the best part of a summer in Prague. Having grown up on the US/Mexico border, and then gone to school in Tucson, this was my first stay of length in a city of girth, and depth. Not to disparage the Old Pueblo, but Tucson is very much a town that just kept swelling without growing. Prague, well, Prague is something else.
What can I say about my summer in Prague? Too much, and not enough. I fell in love with architecture and food. I got introduced to cheap coffee and cheaper beer. I spent a morning at the Cathedral of Life marveling at the soaring arches and meticulous glass, and then spent the afternoon watching tourists take selfies laying on the blood stained blocks where the executions were held at Terezin.
The man I am today was born there on the side of the Charles River, beneath a twilight that stretched until midnight, as I asked someone I respected what ten books he would choose if stranded in isolation for eternity.
So this was my first shot at a critical review for the defunct Authonomy community. Having read the author's manifesto, I have to say that I like the cut of his jib. I chose Step Up because the author is commited to improving his work. That being said, I also enjoyed the read, so the critique that follows the Read More jump should be very much taken as an example of the kind of feedback I would offer to strengthen what is already an impressive novel. If you are an author who is looking to strengthen a work you believe in, this is an example of the kind of developmental letter you would receive, along with line or copy editing.
Step Up is a young adult fiction with easy crossover appeal for adults. As an action-oriented urban crime thriller, Step Up not only delivers an engaging reading experience, but establishes a great foundation for future stories.
N. ~ Journal Entry
An itch, perhaps, at the small of your neck, or maybe that sensation at the nook of one's ear when a whinging drone finds the exact pitch as to induce a shiver that spills from the ear out. Maybe it pulls at you like one of those tricks of the illusionist, something hidden unless you stop looking right at it. I expect that the physical expression may well vary from one individual to the next, much the way the stringent aroma of grilled liver might move one man to salivation while at once moving another to expulsion. Whether the physical manifestation be as direct as a crippling bilious attack, or be it as subtle as the lightest of ephemeral fingernails trailed along the small hairs of an arm, those among us who have placed the sensation do not thereafter mistake the source: it is the feeling of being watched.
Rather distinct from the brief look, a glance, or even the casual appreciation when one happens to wander across another's field of vision, being watched is a different thing. How can it but add to the burden one bears when another casts the full weight of their attention upon you? How much more so when multiple persons should each cast the weight of their gaze upon the same individual, and at the same time?! It is to no surprise that I have heard that it is not uncommon for performers, or even the great rhetoricians, to collapse from exhaustion from bearing the undivided attention of an entire crowd. To be fair, though, it is also said that the great rhetoricians usually manage to exhaust their audience first.
Claims of collapsing performers are hardly difficult for me to credit, indeed, it is the very same exhaustion that seems to bind my leaden bones with twine and threatens to drag my head down to rest here, near or even upon the very words I pen. How did I ever make it through a day, or a walk across the square, under such scrutiny? Even now I can feel their eyes as hooks, dragging me into the depths. Their eyes pierce my skin as though they seek to drain, through their voracious gaze, my very life itself.
The reflexion of the sound-waves due to their incidence on something denser than the aerial medium in which they were propagated
She sits, back to the same aged tree which had supported her vision of beauty and grace not a full day hence. She, of course, avails herself of the opposite side of the trunk, a fact which the romantic among us might attribute to a reverence for the moss and mound against which that sweet flesh had pressed. They would be wrong, but there are worse crimes than to believe overmuch in the superstitions of youth caught in the throes of infatuation. There is a stillness to her rest, a stillness often seen in the Wild Ones. It is the stillness of the deer, head-up and eyes-wide, the stillness of the coiled snake. This stillness has so much motion wrapped up in it, motion imminent, eminent, immanent. It is the very actualization of potentiality.
She sits, her mind's eye tracing the path graced by that which she would not (could not) name. Just there, the rich soil did curve and cup the memory of his weight. Ah, but what weight? Can light, can love, can beauty itself be so confined as to be subject to the crude rules of matter and form, and so bound leave hard mark upon the very floor of her forest home? But there, the twist of a branch grasped a sudden, when she had too near the flame been drawn.There was, as well, just round the base of that trunk against which she did recline, precious twinned proof of the reality of his solidity. She could, even now, turn and with her hands trace the shape of his curve, perhaps even lay her cheek there upon the ghost of his own in hope he had left some of his warmth in his wake, for how could one so bright not sear the very ground in his repose?
She stirs, and makes as if to reach around the trunk, but no. The Wild Ones know. The Wild Ones remember. A pool in a grove in the old forests of the world is not a place to be entered at a whim, however heart-pure that whim may be. Night has just tucked the forest beneath her cloak, and the air still carries the warmth of day's life, but creeping from behind her is a chill where the soft light of the moon and her sisters falls upon a still pool, as petals scattered gentle on the skin of a sleeping lover. Where their light falls on leaf or loam it does glisten as though a premature frost had stolen into this grove alone, in all the world, but where the light falls on that cool surface of the water it falls indeed, as into an abyss, without reflection, a black hole in the hidden heart of the forest.
~ Journal Entry
After all this, it appears that staring at the empty page can be even as staring over long into an abyss. Ah, and there is proof, here on the sheet before me, that I am at the least not denied what solace there can be for one such as myself in this simple scratching of the pen and paper. Wherefore my surprise? Am I not reminded ever exactly how much light there can be in what we might call darkness? What might I here scribe that could hope in any way to recount the twistings of my course? In what manner might I hope to capture the heart of it and trap it in mere words in a string, to be carried off by whomsoever might happen across their tangle?
Now, it does occur to me that within these very pages is an account of a youth who chanced upon a pool and had abandoned his story to dare its return, and that any who chance upon this bound collection in the years to come might wonder how events unfolded in that youth's daring. It happens that I might be in a unique position to alleviate such anxiety.
Daring youth in question did return to the woods, where he was set upon by a wood fiend, even as before, but steadying himself he did strike the vile creature to the ground, proceeding as purposed. The grove he found just as the sun danced on one edge of the silvered surface of the pool and the moon herself graced the furthest edge there from. At the edge opposite the youth himself did spark the reflection of that most inconstant star, masquerading now as the angel of the evening (though in spring she does sprightly charm the dawn), and the four were as the points on a map. Constant Apollo was surrendering the field to the ever changing moon and her most deceptive of bedfellows. This youth might have recalled the gender ambivalence of the un-sooth unsighted one, and considered how nothing on earth could be trusted to be as it once was.