Reviews for The Blues
Natalie Field chapter 1 . 7/12/2011
This is your first /short/ story? Hurrah. Short stories for the win. I really like them. Short stories and flash fiction. Anyways, onto the review.

I love your first line. It's grabbing. The first line of a story should always be grabbing. A lot of the time I see stuff like "Sunlight filtered into the room and I woke up" or something about somebody putting their hair in a ponytail or the exclaimed "You're going to be late!" (just cause that's so overdone). I love grabbing opening lines, like "The smell of flowers and cigarettes mixed together reminds me of home". Long but grabbing. Or perhaps "It's this little diner and I have to go inside". (Yeah I stole those opening lines from some of my stories, but I can't come up with opening lines from the top of my head ').

Then you have your next line: "That isn't a metaphor either". Suddenly, we like the main character just by that one line because he's interesting.

I am going to bring up, though, that I've read this story before. I mean, I've read stories like this one. It's familiar. Then again, you made it fresh and new even though it's a story I've read before.

Some parts of this story happened to drag. Consider trimming it down. If it gets clogged up, the reader is reminded that they're reading a story-something that you don't want the reader to remember until they're done reading. For the whole of this story, I mostly felt kind of alienated from it.

You tell a lot (and that /is/ kind of expected because this is a memory), and for a while we don't get many images to hang on to (yeah, I love images).

In a story like this one, if you mention one detail like say that girl's red hair, it sticks out to us in the story. I mean, it's kind of like you've got this monochrome thing going on and suddenly something stands out to the reader. You can use that more to your advantage... if that makes any sense whatsoever. So perhaps you could add in more little details if you want, because usually those are the things that the reader is going to remember.

In a story if I read "she wrote it down with a pen" I don't see it. But if the writer says, "She wrote it down with a gel pen in that stupid pink binder of hers" it just sticks more. I think you already know all of this, but I'll say it anyway.

The scene at Jake's house was good because as I was reading it I could feel and see everything. I think it was around that point where I forgot I was in a story. Especially when the main sees those girls, the one with bubblegum lick and the indie rock riff. And when Caitlin is first seen, I felt like I could see her and hear her too. Perfectly. Good job on that. You've got good characters, which I forgot to mention. They're not stupid or stereotypical for the most part. I mean, you do some stereotyping, but somebody the bubblegum girl was believable.

By the end of this I was wondering what riff I'd be. O.O PLEASE DON'T LET ME BE BUBBLEGUM PLEASE.

I don't know if this was helpful but I figured I owed it to you. It is my policy to review every single story or thing I read here. Plus you gave me that awesome review, so yeah.

Keep writing!

Natalie
Boy at War chapter 1 . 6/16/2011
Congrats on winning the WCC, I put all my sappy stuff in the review for Hat so I'll just review.

The beginning was interesting because of the first sentence. The second sentence could be omitted though since it becomes clear that this is not a metaphor. It also adds a layer of mystery to your opening line in connection to the rest of the paragraph.

I like your use of guitar riffs to characterize not only your Main character but your secondary characters who he comes into contact with. Through the use of the guitar riffs I get a better under standing of his personality.

I liked your main character, he seemed sort of like your character in Hat. Mellow and sort of eccentric, but likeable. His sister's first reaction to him asking her what her music is seemed a bit exagerated. I know if I had asked my sister she wouldn't have gotten so happy with me. Though I do like how it shows her appreciation for music.

The ending came off as a bit confusing to me. The last paragraph was all about how he appreciated how Caitlin made him feel; but the last sentence about not caring about the delay. This in conjunction with the final line gave me a mixed impression. Are you saying that the blues is so intoxicating that he would want it? Or are you saying that the blues made the delay so unecessary that he wanted it again? That mixed signals with the ending really knocked this stry from closing superbly but I still greatly enjoyed it.

The idea of the main character almost having a super power in hearing guitar rifts made for an interesting idea. The first line brought me in and the character's personality and his interactions with the rest of the cast made it very enjoyable.
Nesasio chapter 1 . 5/31/2011
...Jake took Berkley by the storm...

-Omit 'the'

...the possibility of seeing miss delay there...

-Since it's a name, should be Miss Delay

Scene: I loved the scene where the narrator finds the Stratocaster at the store. The setup for the scene was great, having him 'kidnapped' to go there, and the details throughout were really nice. I liked how he just zeroed in on the perfect guitar for him; it really emphasized how RIGHT certain music feels to him, which worked well later on with the riffs. It lent a lot of credibility to the narrator as well as being a great sweet moment.

Writing: All the music references were a lot of fun to read. At first I was a little concerned that I might not understand some of them (since I know nothing about playing guitar) but everything was explained fairly well and the specific references the narrator made showed a lot about his personality, particularly his disdain for the 'bubblegum'/'pop rock' riffs. The only thing I think might help the less musically-inclined might be to include more comparisons between someone's riff and a specific song, like you did with Caitlin. That helped me imagine things better and gave her a distinct character, unlike the somewhat general delay used to describe the love interest and his sister.

Relationships: I loved the relationship between the narrator and his sister. Her influence over him early on came through very clearly and I especially liked the little scene where he came to her door to ask what she was listening to and she said he might not be so bad. I wanted to see more little scenes like that, rather than straight narration in the early parts, but overall I thought it worked.

Pace: This felt a little slow to me, mostly because there are so many things to describe in the progression from music love to hearing music for women he meets. It took a long time to get to the point where the narrator actually heard riffs, so long that by the time it happened I had nearly forgotten that was how the story opened. While I think a lot of the stuff you described there is very important for character development, it could probably be shortened a bit. An interesting approach (and feel free to ignore this) might be to start with him in the music store with the guitars and have him think about his sister's influence on him as he's looking over the different choices. And as Jake discusses the merits of each one he (the narrator) could think about where those fit in the musical appreciation he got from her.

Congrats on winning the WCC! :)
Twyla Cole chapter 1 . 2/9/2011
I really enjoyed this.

You have such a musical rhythm throughout the whole piece, such poetry. The convention was a lot of fun and I love that you made it literal. I first assumed that the speaker was just one to impose the riff on the girl not the other way around.

The whole thing was very grounded and it didn't ever feel like it got away from you and became self-conscious, if that makes any sense. You have a really strong story and great diction and beautiful flow. I loved this.

Just out of curiosity, what made you think of this?

Great job, man.

Truly,

Twyla
book.addict.for.life chapter 1 . 1/15/2011
I really liked the theme of the story. Great story. :)
dx713 chapter 1 . 1/11/2011
That's a nice story. I've liked the reference to music (obviously), I'd like to have written that kind of thing. I had no problem with the narrator disliking some, as I've assumed that the music was related to the state of mind and not the individual's tastes. Of course, a girl whose music is light pop would be shallow, whatever we think about light pop having it's place on the music scene. Of course, I'm now very curious, like what kind of girl would have a punk-rock riff, flameco, or classical, or things like that? But in the context of a short story, the level of details provided worked well.

Actually, I feel like it's one of the strong point of the story: the rhythm. The narrator dwells on past events with sufficient distance that the flow of the narrative is coherent throughout the piece, without stops or colorful fanfare or brutal changes of style. It reads very much to me like I'd listen to some blues song.

I like the switch to present in "I couldn't stop staring at her for at least fifteen seconds. I have to admit, even as strong as I feel about the delay riff, the blues come across even stronger. I had never heard a true blues lick from a girl before that day, (...)" It bugged me at first, but when I reached the ending, I realized it made perfect sense.

On the criticism side, I'd like to have read about girls with changing riffs, a lot of people, especially around twenty, are still looking for themselves and have mindset changes. I've also assumed the narrator only heard girl because of sexual orientation, but I would have liked a confirmation (or to hear about a boy's riff. What would Jake's be?)

The ending works for me. It ties love, music, and inner state of mind clearly without being to heavy-handed about it.
lookingwest chapter 1 . 1/9/2011
This is difficult for me to write a critique on because I feel like this is very personal to you and a lot of it is drawn from your real life experiences. I don't want to offend or anything like that, but looking at it from an objective short story point of view, I didn't like the narrator for several reasons. First of all, he defines girls-well, he doesn't even call them women, but implies they are children by calling them "girls" so I don't know what that's about. The fact that he defines them so simply, without knowing anything about them but the fact they might like MCR's new single, is insane to me. What about men-I mean, boys? Other boys? Does the narrator hear guitar riffs when he sees them, or is this simply objectifying just girls down to a singular definition? I don't know, I'm just kind of surprised...I didn't find it romantic at all. I found it kind of shallow...also the limited amount of music that the narrator seemed to be into. I mean, some girls really like to listen to Common or heaven forbid, Lil' Wayne-so do they have a guitar riff? What if they also listen to the defined "good" music like U2 as well? Everyone is much more complex than that. What if a girl listens to Reliant K and also Eric Calpton and plays the drums like a pro? I mean...it just doesn't make sense to me, there are too many holes and it narrows to much-and the weird part for me is that the narrator only focused on "girls" and their definitions, but let the men, like Jake, define themselves by saying they're "in a garage band". Of course the boys get to define themselves?

I'm sorry Patrick, this is just hard for me to keep my mouth shut about and I feel super terrible because I'm guessing this is really autobiographical and I'm really sorry if I offended you, but it's just my point of view.

As far as the actual narrative and writing style, it was solid, I liked it. You did a good job describing things though some times you distanced the reader by the length of the descriptions. I feel like the paragraphs of explanation could some times be broken up with action and dialogue, because you tended to do a lot of explaining and describing about people such as the narrator's sister, etc. without actually showing it through the narrative. Then again, that's the trick with a short story too. Overall I think you did a good job, especially leading up to Caitlin. It just sucks that she had to be so defined...I mean, like...I dunno, I'm listening to the new Kayne West album which is amazing (unfortunately) and has samples from Bon Iver and even King Crimson and is wonderfully produced with a shit ton of talent, and other musicians who close themselves off from listening to music that's so well produced like that just because of the genre is difficult for me to get my head around. Ack, there I go again, I'm so sorry :/ Hate me if you like, haha.

Alright, so I didn't find any spelling or grammar so this was wonderfully edited and everything! And you did an excellent job with making the dialogue very realistic and I did get a sense of the age groups and how that was portrayed. I liked the visual description of the party with the mention of the strobe lights and everything, and I think you did an excellent job placing the reader into the different scenes. I didn't have any problem visualizing what was going on or where the characters were. Although heavy on description, it worked, especially for getting into the narrator's head and how they worked, even if I disagree completely. You did a good job keeping those views consistent and always coming back to the focus of the guitars and the different riffs and I think you did a good job describing how the riffs sounded, even to those who can't play guitar or aren't well musically talented.

For a first short story I think you did wonderfully with the writing aspects of it, even though I don't agree with the content at all, I don't have to like the content or characters to recognize good writing when I see it. You've definitley got a talent, and while your poetry flourishes I find that you narrative is actually much heavier in description and much more detailed, which kind of surprised me. If I had read this without knowing your poetry background I would have thought this was written definitley by a novelist, not a poet-so you did a great job stepping into that role as a writer and fulfilling it. Great job with this, Patrick, it's definitley a prize, and of course, my point of view on content is just one point of view of many, so ignore me, XD, I just can't help myself some times.
Tawny Owl chapter 1 . 12/27/2010
Sorry this has taken so long. It took me a while to get through and process it all, but I think that might be that I don’t know much about music, and how a guitar works, and that distanced me a bit from story. There were bits though, when you described the blues riff that were really good, and I didn’t need to really know to understand how it felt, if that makes any sense? I got images of the red head, and Caitlin in my head just by knowing what they’re music sounded like. One thing though was maybe describing how the narrator felt when he heard U2 from behind his sister’s door. It was a big moment, but it didn’t really feel like it stopped him in his tracks.

I did like though that in some ways it wasn’t just a story about him and Caitlin, but also him and his sister, and him growing up. It was kind of apt that he first started hearing them when he found a girl he was attracted to. The guitar and the music were so much a part of him growing up that it made sense. It was kind of like seeing stars for musicians.

I wasn’t sure why he was scared about being kidnapped though. I got the impression that he knew it was Ellen and Jake that were doing it, so I dunno, maybe excited or annoyed would be better? What did he think they were really going to do to him?

You also cover a lot of ground really quickly, and in some ways I felt like I got to know the other character better than I knew the narrator. The detail made it feel real all the way through though – like the way his fingers hurt, and the sensory over load of the room, and Jake’s coat falling out of the cupboard.

I liked the way you called the red head miss delay too – rather than just the red head.
sophiesix chapter 1 . 12/24/2010
oh nice. this is smooth, flowing, it pulls you along, it sucks you in.

In the beginning I was a bit lost whenever the music jargon came up – still not sure what a delay is, lol, but then you got into the sibling stuff and I was hooked: “because everything I did bugged her, and when she was mean to me, I took offense” that’s so so true. I now understand my childhood! Cheers!

“Probing it as though it were alien life’ oh perfect.

So yeah, this was written beautifully, and had me mesmerised. you explain the hearing girls' songs ability nicely, so it doesn't sound to creepy. i was wondering about this, coz i have a character that can hear people's soul music, but he's a bit of a creep, so kudos to you that your guy totally held his own and made me love him.

great stuff!

Merry Christmas!

Aw I love the blues, so that ending really got me
berley chapter 1 . 12/9/2010
I really loved the whole theme of music in this entire story. I felt like I had so much in common with the narrator because he totally shares the same kind of love for music like I do. And in music I mean good music. Queen, Eric Clapton, Cream, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac...the list goes on. Music has always been a huge part of my life, changing it in ways I never thought something like music could do. I’ve bonded with friends so much over music, just like the narrator developed a close relationship with his older sister because of music. It’s really neat when I read stuff like this, showing that I’m not the only one who this obsessed. Haha.

I personally don’t hear guitar riffs whenever I look a guy in the eyes, obviously, but I totally try and find out people’s taste in music, and that alone helps shape what I think of a person I think they are, and if I’m going to like them or not. It’s fucked up, but I totally do it. If someone likes that terrible bubble-gum pop, top forty mainstream stuff, I judge them for it. But then if I meet someone who shares the same taste in music as me, or can help expand my taste in music, my view on that person is completely different. You bond with them in a really neat and close way just because of music. So yeah, I had to smile when I started reading this story for that fact alone.

Oh, and I loved the guitar choice. Fender Stratocasters are beautiful. I’m a huge fan of Fender and have an acoustic of that brand. I was also listening to Jimi Hendrix when I read that part, so I thought that was kind of neat since I’m pretty sure he owned a Stratocaster, but not all of his songs are played on it. But I’m getting off topic.

For the writing part of your actual story, I enjoyed it. Everything was really smooth, and even though the chapter was a little long for my taste, it wasn’t daunting to read at all. I thought everything felt a little personal, which I really liked as well. Though, I feel that way with a lot of your pieces. It’s a nice touch on your style of writing. Oh, and I also liked how you ended the story, plot wise. I’m so glad you stayed away from the cliché ending of him finding and falling for the red head, and instead met someone else. Very nice. Parts made me laugh out loud.

I did think that the ending of the story felt a little bit rushed, but that could have been the way I was reading it. In ways I did want more, and felt that you could have possibly expanded on this story and made it a small multi-chapter, but honestly I also liked it the way you left it.

Good job, dude. I really enjoyed this piece.