|Reviews for Serigala|
| Ioga chapter 1 . 10/30/2011
Out of the three stories I'm (hopefully) reviewing tonight, this one was my definite favourite for two reasons: First, for giving another, exotic point of view - of Tanti's life on the other side of the world. I love learning something while entertaining myself, and getting into new worlds, particularly ones that are real for other people somewhere. Second, for having an inanimate object as a center of a story.
The tracking idea is great, and I'd actually even wish that there were more steps to it - like an underpaid sales clerk or a truck driver, or whatever - even the cotton farmer. The contrast is at its strongest when you have the low-income and the high-income ends of the chain in view, of course. Have you run into any similar stories on FP earlier, by any chance?
I also liked the animalistic angles, including having the T-shirt slogan be such a shamanistic-sounding thing. Apparently Pak Elang and the hawk have something more to do with each other than is explicit too? Sweet!
I was pondering what kind of a person Tanti was. It seemed to me that the her job at a sweatshop kind of connected badly with a thought that was verbalized in words like "sleep deprivation", "induced" and "hallucination". If she were educated or generally smart and good with words, it'd be nice to have something more to support this against the confusion of working at a minimal-education job.
The section describing life in the city whirred by a bit fast, with lists and fast turns. For example the "Towering half-built" one-sentence paragraph has a _ton_ of information in very condensed form. (I'm still not entirely certain what the monsters were - some kind of freeway pieces or skyscrapers or what.) Hold the poor ignorant westerner's hand a bit more here? I want to learn more! :)
When we get to Chad, "It took Chad three hours to save the money" - in my mind's eye, I see the cranking game of the local technical museum where you crank a lever to work for a day's hours (rather speeded up) and it counts your wages in the number of hamburgers you could buy locally, and in a comparable currency. But the strong expectation of shared context here feels a bit disconnected from the otherwise international story: "three hours" of what? Of not shopping? Of staying healthy? Working at a local sweatshop, maybe? Or catching cockroaches? ;)
The jab at Chad pondering about the "spoiledness" of Eric in relation to himself was amusing. It too goes by a _bit_ fast ("So spoilt. Unlike me." - all of four words seal Eric's fate like the tik-tik-tik of a machine gun out of bullets), but the loss is more in atmospheric buildup of the lesson than understanding here.
Now that I'm reading some of the text again to review it - the connection of their trip to the concert could be even more closely reflected against the traffic description back in Indonesia, to make it comparable or even to draw parallels. It whizzes by a bit, as well.
"No luck, no ID" is a bit separate from the flow - you're depicting both that they didn't get any beers there and that someone thinks they had no luck, and it gets a bit hard to bridge between the two.
You seem to have a general habit of not adding a comma after/before "separated starter commentary" like "name, go do this for me" or "yo, faster, dude" or "Potent real estate, dude" (in here my misread becomes "a potent real-estate dude" when the comma is missing).
- the boss is yelling at her in a sentence that ends in a simulated period (which turns into a comma) - I'd expect a yell to end in an exclamation mark?
- "well after what people assumed he was able to" - 'after' sounds a bit strange to me here, do you mean 'beyond'?
- fast track - should this be fast-track when it's a single concept? (Finnish is really hot about gluing words together though, so my preferences always push that way.)
- "14 hour day" - 14-hour day (merging multi-word attributes), similarly "clocking off time" - clocking-off time, but I'd possibly prefer even rewriting it to "the time arrived to clock off" since I was reading the 'ing' the wrong way at first
- gripped tightly to Ari's back - tightly on? (I have no natural insight with these verb-postposition pairs though.)
- "opening subtle drum solo": a long concept, maybe leave out a word or split it into more easily parsed pieces? (Should I read it opening-subtle drum-solo or opening subtle-drum solo? A comma between "opening" and "subtle" helps see them as two equals if that was the intention.)
I haven't formed a strong opinion about the circularity pattern in stories - you seem to do it a lot, have an element that repeats and that we return to in the end. It sometimes works better than other times and it's a hammer, anyway, and independent of the shape of the whatever lounging chair you're building - you use it when it's appropriate. The way that sounds seem to be a reasonably common repeating element (considering I just read Courage and this one... ;)) does make me wonder a bit if you have a special relationship with repetitive sounds though; do you tag yourself as an "auditive learner", for instance? Or do you get environmental sounds driving you nuts easily?
I like the way you go into people's heads in pretty much all stories you write. But you really show your fangs and claws with the exotic stuff: aliens, strange environments and foreign worlds, and making them feel familiar and completely sensible. Oh yes, this is the good stuff!
Thanks for this!
| Javajive chapter 1 . 7/18/2011
Hi there. I had to look up the prompt and I have to say that I really liked your idea of tracing the 'bloodline' of that hat. You paint a rich picture of the origin and manage to show the stark contrast between these different worlds. How Chad has to work three hours to buy the hat, as compared to the thirty five items Tanti works a fourteen hour day to complete. How her work isn't done even once she gets home.
The opening with the sound of the sewing machine, using the expression exploded gives an immediate image of the speed, how her hands must be moving with the machine. Your characterization of Tanti, you can help liking this woman who sits there musing over where her handicraft will end up. You feel her strength, how she struggles to keep up and make a decent living.
The mouse-deer, the hawk (pak elang : )), the wolf. I liked how you weaved in these allegories, comparing the sewing machine to a hungry wolf. How she's frightened her fingers might get caught in its teeth. Brilliant.
I might be partial but I loved your description of Bandung and well, it just felt like being 'home' :) though I’m in Jakarta. “The streets of Bandung were alive with: the sights of bustling night-markets selling sizzling satays, coal-smoked corncobs, and meatballs soups with dried onions sprinkled on top.” This part just made me plain hungry.
“Towering half-built freeway flyover monsters stalked the city throughout the 1990s” – Well, you know it girl. I wonder how much money has gone to waste with these projects coming to nothing.
I know others have mentioned the repitition of the ‘tik, tik, tik.’ But also: “Yo faster dude.” Like an echo of Pak Elang earlier in the story.
This was a delightful read from start to finish.
| A. Gray chapter 1 . 6/15/2011
I loved this. It was so interesting to me to see the the stark contrst of the woman making the T-shirt all day to get enough money just for dinner to the boys that bought them. The woman was amazing to say the least with her dedication. She may have felt her pride lost, but I was proud for her that she was willing to go to such length for her family. Her illusion was intresting, and i love how you tied it into her dreams. I also loved the Tik that was tied in throughout the story.
Well done on this; very enjoyable!
| pounderella chapter 1 . 6/13/2011
Hello, Dragon's boss.
I tracked your writing from the review you so kindly left to my three or more years old story. This morning I checked my email and suddenly tickled by the fact that indeed, I had something written somewhere.
On to the story. I am amazed by your details on describing Bandung. I come from more eastern area, somewhere in Central Java, where it is somewhat like Bandung, but less crowded. I only visit Bandung few times, and I can see it by reading the first half of your story.
Story of a Tanti is something you can find everywhere in many areas in Bandung. Usually I'd vote for sandals, since it's the central of sandal/shoe home-industries, but I can totally see a small garment factory owned by Pak Elang in the middle of the majority.
The details about motorcycle is somewhat hitting home. I don't find it weird for Tanti's husband to own a motorcycle. I can imagine a backstory here, where they must dodged people from dealer who asked for monthly money by pretending to not being home. Until one day they can pay for the motorcycle, and able to call it their own property. But wait, typical Indonesian, usually after they complete one installment, they are eager to get one more motorcycle from dealer. Since Tanti here is still picked up by his husband from work then maybe I wonder if they haven't finished paying the motobike yet.
I especially like this line :
"There was a soundscape of chugging motorbike engines and pathos-ridden guitar serenades and the smells of petrol, incense, and peanut sauce wafting from the hawker stalls as they passed."
This is exactly what I feel every morning, while riding my motobike to work. :D
By the way, is it usual there to use the word "little room"? I mean Indonesian use the direct translation here. Is it okay to take it just like that, even using the quotation mark?
The last part of the story feels different in flow. But I like the simplicity in it. When the greater message is about to be delivered, I like it clean and simple.
Since I get to see Tanti's thoughts from author's use of first person with Italic, I can tell that she is somewhat a smart and perceptive woman. I just wish you'd give her more charm by giving her more personalities. Or maybe it's just the feminist in me talking. :p
This is a lovely piece of writing. Thank you for writing this.
| rgarner31 chapter 1 . 6/13/2011
ok so hello from RG (review game or rebecca garner, either way :))
so i really like this combination you have here. Between the sweat-shop run factory and the current, preparing for a concert idea, its a great contrast. I also like that you have little quirks, such as describing the life of someone who is actually worked VERY hard and to the bone, and then having some teenage kid saying that he knew what money was worth just because he had had to save up to get the shirt. I dont know if that was intentional or if im completely missing the point, but still it was something i really enjoyed. Another good thing is your use of metaphors such as "Being a hawk he could survey his dominion of scared mouse-deer, and deftly escape the wolves.", they really help the reader visualize what is being told to them.
A few minor dislikes would be that i found it a little hard to be thrust into the world of Tanti because it felt like it was something like a second chapter or scene, not the first. It didnt tell you she worked in a clothing factory, you had to figure it out (im very picky with my first impressions of a book. ill read the first page and if i dont immediately get whats happening it annoys me and i put the book down). Another would be that i cant tell just what kind of story this is going to turn out to be. Usually theres some hint of danger that says its a mystery, some detail that says its a romance, some joke that makes it a comedy...i dont know i just felt kind of confused on that. So much to say, "every story has a purpose and every scene in one is important, then looking at this and seeing nothing that i find to be important :/ im probably just very picky about these things, but i just like to know that the story has some substance to it before i commit myself to buying the book (or just continuing to read in this case :))
but overall, great job! :)
| Dr. Self Destruct chapter 1 . 6/13/2011
As a few other of your reviewers pointed out, I think the repetition of the ticking really wrapped this piece up rather nicely. It's a well thought-out prop used to break the ice, then conclude in a way which makes the reader reflect once again upon the beginning.
I feel bad for Tanti, considering all she has to go through with so little energy left to do it. It is interesting to compare and contrast her day with the day of Chad - if only he knew what the person making that shirt had to go through. It makes me also ponder the things not many people think about. I have always been one to get annoyed with how some people make crude remarks about companies outsourcing to other countries, most especially because of the circumstances you portray here in this one-shot. I am sure, if given the choice, Tanti would trade places with Chad any day. It is always an eye-opener when we are faced with the hardships of other people - hardships many of us may have never experienced ourselves.
It teaches us to not take things for granted.
The image of the wolf was nice as well. I was also fond with how you described the rest of the city, focusing on the smell of the various foods.
Good job, I enjoyed this. :)
| Nesasio chapter 1 . 6/11/2011
I really loved the way you used the tik tik tik to tie all this together. Following the shirt from production to concert was a really clever idea on its own but the repetition of the sound really pulled it all together in a creative way. I also liked how the two lives worked around that shirt, 13-14 hours for a good day, in lives so very different from each other but brought together here. Lovely. :) The one thing that I found confusing, though, was the part about Tanti not knowing what wolf meant and then the rest of that section comparing things to wolves. From a writing perspective, of course, I can understand not wanting to confuse readers about what she's thinking of but it also kind of contradicts her so that was an odd moment for me. Overall, though, I really liked this. Good luck in the WCC! :)
| Boy at War chapter 1 . 6/10/2011
I don't really see how Tanti's family can afford a motorbike if they (or at least Tanti) is only making enough to pay for the dinner of one night.
I think it's a little odd that Chad only needed three hours to make the money for the t-shirt and yet he thinks it makes him not spoiled. I would love to know what job Chad has that pays him 6 dollars an hour.
One more thing I thought was strange was that they were embarassingly early yet there was enough people that they needed to fight (or elbow) their way through the crowd.
Nice piece, good luck in the WCC.
| Sercus Kaynine chapter 1 . 6/9/2011
Loved the full circle ending and how you connected the two scenes with the "tik" noise.
Very creative take on the prompt. I like the message you're trying to send here. Almost satirical.
Good job and good luck in WCC!
| sophiesix chapter 1 . 6/5/2011
oooh! love the last line! Very clever.
I love the concept and the contrasts here, two ordinary days in two peoples lives that nicely illustrated the huge gaps between them.
"The streets of Bandung were alive with the sights of markets and motorbikes, the sounds of motorbike engines and guitar serenades, the smells of petrol, incense, and peanut sauce wafting from the hawker stalls as she passed them. Yes, there were lots of motorbikes in Bandung." I loved teh sounds and teh smells, perfect, but thought you could have been equally specific with the 'sights' to have teh same nice opwerful impact? what do they see at the markets, for e.g.?
"In her dreams, she heard sky-piercing howls, then saw a wolf. Out of the wolf's mouth came gnashing sounds: Tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik." love that! reminds me of Poe or something.
For me, there were a couple of places where cutting down the adjectives / adverbs / speech tags would let the simple power of the story come out better?
I really like Pak Elang's charcterisation, it suits him really well. love that imaeg of teh hawk hovering, the wolves gnashing, teh workers crouched like rabbits by their sides, bunnies in teh headlights. I like how you incoporated teh family eleemt too, to round of tanti's
Great stuff, and good luck in teh WCC! :D