Reviews for It's Not Safe to Swim Today
m. b. whitlock chapter 1 . 6/21/2014
RG EF #5,536

Like all of your stories I have read so far this one has a real mythic feel. I like the twists of fate you portray. Kaha Huna is not a surf goddess, except in the eyes of her son, and eventually something separates them and she becomes a homeless person, which in someways seems so appropriate for a forgotten diety, or a god who lives in a different dimension/has a different perspective of existence, etc..

There are many moments that are remarkably tender and effective. Here are a few I liked in particular:

"as she hanged a perfect ten at the crest of the wave she lived up to her self proclaimed moniker of Kaha Huna, the Hawaiian goddess of the surf."

I especially like the visceral quality of this bit:
"Clay jumped into her waiting arms, the scent of salt heavy on her body.

"Whoa keiki, you're getting big!"" Very sweet. :)

This is a wonderful portrayal of a kid's perspective, really like 'funny cigarettes'…:
"While they worked, Kaha smoked one of her funny cigarettes, her pakalolo as she liked to call them, its pungent yet sweet aroma mingling with the scent of the ocean and although the cigarettes always made her eyes look like she was crying, Kaha could never have been happier."

This image is so searing:
"She grabbed fistfuls of sand and let it run between her fingers, like the ashes of destroyed dreams." The displaced desperation she feels is so evident in this line. Great stuff!

A very mythic, almost fateful ending here:
"A short while later Clay drifted down the beach, alone. He came to the spot where the lifeguard had found the body and watched the great slab of water roil and tumble with unconscious grace."

Yet another very enjoyable story.


Faithless Juliet chapter 1 . 12/21/2013
This is a really interesting story so far.

First off my main critique is just that at the beginning I think you started just a bit too strong for me. I think you infuse a lot of cultural lingo and wordage into this, and for someone without a “surfing” background (such as myself) I felt a little bit lost. I think it may help if you ease into the opening section a bit smoother, especially in light of the fact that a few paragraphs after the first you jump ahead several years.

As I mentioned I really like the premise so far, and I think Clay is a solid character for chapter one. I really liked the way that you’re describing the water as well. “Glassy monolithic waves that pumped from far distant lands” was so lush and clean. I’m really liking this so far. Keep up the good work.

Persevera chapter 1 . 12/21/2013
I really liked the beginning of this with the adoring little boy who thought his mother was just the coolest thing. At eight he was just on the verge where that would soon change, as his world would become about more than him and her and he'd begin to recognize her faults.
The writing was beautiful and the pathos of the second half with the prematurely aged, still grieving Kana Huna building her half of sand castles was very subtle.
There was a malapropism in a pivotal part of the narrative that pulled me out of the mood of the piece: [ even lonelier this day than what it was on that faithful day]- Of course you meant fateful.
The mystery of Clay there as a grown surfer and in the body bag is well-done and thought-provoking.
I loved the little whimsy in your conclusion, reminder that despite any tragedy, things go on for the living.
Jitterbug Blues chapter 1 . 12/21/2013
(For clarification's sake, this is the Austrian/Viennese part of 'Jitterbug Blues' :P)

You have a very vivid style, which really shines out throughout this piece. It's amazing how vivid you are without turning too turtle-prosey or being overbearing. The way you describe things is very tangible, and also addresses the senses. Your style is, also, very pretty. The only annoying (not really annoying though) things are a few small errors sprinkled through the text ('mothers' instead of 'mother's', for example).

I like how you set up the scene. I definitely felt engaged by your details, and this piece reminded me of that one time while I was on Long Island. So you definitely captured a lot of realism here :)

I also like how you described the relationship between Clay and his mother - very warm and affectionate. That and his mother is one cool lady 3.

I wonder about the ending. I really do. I wonder who or what Clay is, and whether the body in the bag is ...(don't tell me, I like to keep guessing). Yeah, I really like the ending too :)

Overall, lovely piece.