Reviews for Mary Ann
Lucie Saint-Lazare chapter 2 . 4/10/2007
Hi Julia,

When Mary Ann mentioned "Purgatory," I recalled why the name of "Virgil" struck me as interesting: it's the guide from Dante's Divine Comedy! Gotta love highbrow literary references, especially when you get them.

It's interesting to see the character of Virgil fleshed out as well. You mention in the previous chapter that Dennis is the "prick of the century" (I assume, therefore, that there was a nasty break-up). The fact that Mary Ann sleeps with Virgil hints that she hasn't quite recovered from it. It would be interesting to see her grow to reevaluate her relationship with Dennis as her relationship with Virgil develops.

I sometimes miss the lack of visuals but I realize that it works for you, as the few images that there are become all the more striking by contrast. (That lascivious wall... *shudder* It would actually be funny if it wasn't so creepy.) However, in a couple of spots, you might want to elaborate. For example: "a half-inch of dust collected over everything." What's everything? Furniture with white sheets tossed over them so that they look like ghosts, a collection of creepy pierrot dolls and hobby horses with the stuffing pulled out, a suburban kitchen? In spite of the sparse description, however, you still have a very good mastery of atmosphere. What you don't give us, the sick and twisted part of our imagination can find on its own.

All in all, a wonderful head-trip. I wanted to see if the promise of the first chapter would be fulfilled in later ones, but now I'll definitely be adding this story to my favourites.

By the way: American McGee's Alice is a PC game. It's about a grown-up Alice who's gone insane, and whose imaginary wonderland has therefore gone all gothic and freaky. The whole game is about her going on a mission to regain her sanity by defeating the Queen of Hearts and restoring Wonderland to its former equally-freaky but less obviously gothic glory. The story is better than in most video games, although the dialogue is sometimes a bit corny. I wouldn't worry about people drawing parallels, since you've got your own decidedly more grown-up thing going (what with the heroin and Divine Comedy sub-theme), and anyway we can never have enough Lewis Carroll-inspired stuff, but you might find it worth checking out. It's a cult classic.

Take care!

Lucie Saint-Lazare chapter 1 . 4/8/2007
Hi Julia,

Alice in Wonderland being the book that made me who I am today, I couldn't resist checking your piece out.

The opening line is a classic. I would change the passive to an active tense, however, to give it even more punch ("Mary Ann struck..." instead of "Mary Ann was striking...") but whoa, what a start. In addition to dragging you right into the action, the double narrative also makes it an endearingly ironic commentary on the way we romanticize our bad habits.

The rest of the story doesn't disappoint. There are lots of witty lines, like the "Nobody" bit, and that delightfully creepy image of people who manipulate their own faces like puppets. I picked out a couple of mistakes, though: it should be "call me Virgil" rather than "call my Virgil" and isn't the word "blubbering" (in the next line) as opposed to "blibbering"?

The pace is very fast. In a way, that's good, because you never get bored. Then again, I might enjoy a bit more description of the place she finds herself in (if it's anything like what I'm thinking, it's worth describing) and you may want to give us a bit more time to get accustomed to the setting and the atmosphere before throwing the main plot point (the theft of emotions) our way. Also, I think it might be more fun if we were allowed to play detective along with Mary Ann and find out for ourselves what the strings on the face mean (the loss of emotions) rather than being directly told, which takes some of the fun away.

Otherwise, though, I love this. It's witty, dark, engaging, in a word, a brilliant bit of gothic mayhem.

Have you ever heard of American McGee's Alice, by the way? Best. Video game. Ever.

Rock on!