|Reviews for Life is a box of chocolates (Anthology)|
| Sjoorm chapter 2 . 12/31/2015
Wow. I kept reading through the opening of this particular story purely because of the unique writing style. I've never seen anything like it before, and for the first few paragraphs I was iffy on if I even liked it, but the fact that your opening drew me in with 4 words and some parentheses shows how powerful it actually is.
Though the ending is simple (staring through each other as if they don't exist) it's still satisfying. It really resonates, almost as if they share a silent secret between each other now, but that it still changes nothing. It's almost sad.
I think the fact that she was able to remain expressionless as he stared into her eyes (before promptly leaving the display) was probably the best scene, for me. He was clearly trying to illicit a reaction, and she wouldn't budge.
The dialogue is where it gets me though. There is very little of it, but when the girls are talking to each other I really feel there should be quotation marks denoting it (I know I know, it's a writing style, but it's one that I hate). 'Blood Red Road' is a novel that does this, and I can't stand having to read through a sentence 2 or 3 times trying to figure out where the actual dialogue is. A major pet peeve for me. Besides that, I congratulate you on being able to create a compelling short story with basically no dialogue.
I think the setting is very unique. A high school boy trying to make ends meet (possibly for his poor family? The teenaged girls act as though they are walking into a crime-filled ghetto) by doing an erotic display isn't your typical setting, but for this it really works. It adds shock value, and it adds some extra spice to the story that really enriches it for me.
I don't normally find stories that have so many positives for me to the point where they are overwhelming, so bravo for this. I really look forward to finding time for the rest of them :)
| Ventracere chapter 2 . 10/21/2015
Sorry about that!
Style: Ooh. So This one is written with that same commentary volleying back and forth with Haunting the Forgotten. But this one, I like how consistent it is. But what happens is that you end up creating this sort of play-like narrative. It's a bit jarring when I first started, but once I got the idea of what you were trying to create, it struck me as very unique an interesting way to present the story. It's description one way or another, but you create this narrative based completely on description and cues. Nice nice.
Ending: Sorry, I'm going to be hopping around, doing this in class, haha. But I liked how you were able to return full circle in the beginning. In the opening you mentioned how he was good at staring through each other. And at the end you mention that these two are staring through each other with stony eyes. It closes out the chapter nicely. that aside, I like the fact that you managed to have them exist on the same plane, but it's like they never encounter each other. It's a cool concept.
Plotwise, I found it was a bit difficult to wrap my head around with the back and forth with the two different narratives going on. But, I did like how you took a less conventional way to describe the two meeting and how "Fate" sort of kinda intervened each time that they almost met each other. But it's interesting to see that you tell a story of an idol who used to be, but decided to go back, to become normal all over again. On the other hand, she always was a bit aware with who he was, while he was aware of her, he never really took her in. Until the end, where I feel like she kind of ruined him, with the viral clip. Uh.
Overall enjoyment: I did have to read through it a couple times in order to take it all in, but I like the idea of the concept that you have playing through here. I also like the way that you show that it's so easy for someone to fall out of where they were before, particularly an idol. It was a tense-sort of read, to see whether or not they'd ever meet, and when they did, it was a small explosion. She ruined him so to speak.
Thanks for the read!
| Ventracere chapter 8 . 10/19/2015
Writing: Oh man, this was an interesting piece. I like the rhetoric you used, particularly the apostrophe. We know that he's addressing the girl, but we don't exactly know who the object of his affections is. The way you wrote in first person but don't exactly detail who she is creates this kind of creepy feel to the piece.
Character: which goes to say about the speaker. The protagonist of the piece is... just a bit creepy, isn't he? but his voice is incredibly prominent throughout the piece. That said, he's also observant, focused on what he wants. A bit psychotic, but you capture that well as you go on throughout the piece.
Technique wise, I like how you separate each little section with a phrase. Those phrases highlight how the tension keeps going up little by little, his inability to lose his obession of the object of his affections. That's something I liked about the piece, how you were able to structure the chunk the piece into certain little parts. It causes these breaks within the piece, but it still keeps the chapter in a nice flow without breaking apart the narrative.
Ending: I don't even know what to think about the ending hahah. I definitely feel bad for the girl, but I kind of want to know whether or not this is the girl who he was told to stay away from or the woman he found that looked a lot like her. Either way, it's a bit of a shock to the system even though we know that it was going to happen. I think the nail in the coffin was "you're just /happy/ that we're together again. That sent shudders through me - no the girl isn't happy. She's freaking terrified. All in all, it was interesting to see how his wires crossed a bit. Just a ibt. Though I like how you closed out with a bang.
Overall enjoyment: I probably shouldn't have read this during class, but with the steadily increasing pacing with the mental protagonist, it was hard to put down. For me, I wanted to find out to what lengths the protagonist was going to through in order to get what he wants even when he has to follow the rules and the promises he made. Creepy as heck, but definitely a fun read.
| Shampoo Suicide chapter 14 . 10/19/2015
There's a real beauty in how this was written. I think it somehow mixes old and new forms, harkening to that theme within the story, and it makes for a really elegant read. Your diction, for example, is chosen carefully and there's a mix of more formal and less stuffy vocab and I liked that a lot.
I loved the brief glimpse into the relationship of Hong and Yng Yng. You managed to encompass a lot of it in such a short piece which is rather impressive. I like that they use the honorifics with each other still, again calling back to that mix of old and new traditions.
The scene where he has to leave is heartbreaking even before the reader (or at least this reader) knows what is going on. I love the mention that she can't talk to him like just anyone, and how she later tries to say exactly what she wants but can't.
The reveal that this was actually a ghost story was well done. I like that it's subtle right until the very moment her father tells her what has happened, with her being unconcerned by the missing call log and being unable to reach him. It's very clever and makes the reveal, which shouldn't be all that shocking, kind of a heart punch.
At first I was going to say you don't need the last line but upon looking at it again I think it really drives home the eerie mood of the ending. This is a fantastic piece. Well done!
| Electrumquill chapter 12 . 10/9/2015
Well this is without a doubt an extremely good story which manages to have a twist at the very end that I can applaud.
A cute first half certainly with the protagonist and Baby. It is true that women could not join crews in the old days, but wives and girlfriends could smuggle themselves on board. And yet the events in your story are much more interesting than that.
Love the introduction of the mermaid. Probably the first mermaids were the hallucinations of straight sailors who missed the opposite gender, but your red headed mermaid is very real and a very practical character. She has a lot more sense than the famous Little Mermaid did. If you want a man in your life, why not try bringing him to live with you first of all? And her introduction with the protagonist registering her quite slowly is very well written. Good foreshadowing too with the red worms. The only thing missing is more description of treasures brought up from the sea bed.
After the twist is revealed one can go back and reread. Now we know what the mermaid and Baby were talking about it sheds a whole new light on the text. Baby is certainly wiser than any of the men come over as being. I know that certain aspects of the story are open to the reader’s interpretation, but I think that it was the sea-witch character from the original Little Mermaid story who had been offering faustian bargains and Baby and the mermaid thwarted her.
| Virtuella chapter 14 . 10/3/2015
That’s a neat story. The plot has been done before, of course, but the execution here is lovely. I really liked the atmosphere of the library, and Yng’s memories of the processions were beautifully vivid. The juxtaposition of the traditional and modern lifestyles/manners/values works really well. It’s a nice touch that he says he can’t have dinner with her, the meaning of that only becoming clear later. You’ve portrayed a very tender relationship in a short space.
You’ve got me curious now – what exactly are oil-fried ghosts?
| IAmButAWindow chapter 14 . 9/18/2015
Window here. It's been a long while.
Opening: I wanted to start here, as stories usually start here. What an opening line. I'm torn about it because it threw me completely off-guard. This could have easily been the opening of the story of an insane person that believes he sees ghosts. And then everything actually calmed down a lot after that. All this to say, the opening line really grabbed me and made me wonder what kind of story this was.
Plot: This is probably the weakest point of the story. Not all stories need to be big, or about wars or something. Character-driven pieces are often a welcome break from those types of stories. But I finished the story and found myself asking if that was it. I may just have been gone from the games for a while, and really this is a short story, but I don't feel like things moved into something substantial. For what it is, it works fine, but I'm just wondering about what it was supposed to be. Or something. I'm just an art philistine. :P
Setting: A stronger point to be sure. Although I'm not exactly sure where this took place (as the various Asian cultures are not in my repertoire of knowledge), you do drop little hints with things like tropical weather. I like the mix of tradition and modern thinking here. This is a class that happens all too often in the real world. Traditions of the people, that have helped them survive for thousands of years, are suddenly not as easily believed due to science (why was that capitalized?) and stuff. I should know. I'm a scientist. Though I still do have a few beliefs of my own. So basically I was really able to connect with that part.
Ending: Now keep in mind that I'm an idiot. I was a bit confused, not about what happened (as, if I understood correctly, Gege died), but I'm confused as to why there was so little information about what he was doing, why he was mysterious, and why he was killed. That's probably the point, as Wong Yng Yng also didn't know anything (and through this we are placed in her shoes), but it's just a little disappointing that we don't know, and we NEVER will know (again, maybe she will never know too).
Overall, I get the idea that this story is more driving a point of how we stupidly take things for granted, don't speak out when we should, and suffer the consequences of 'what might have been'. I understand the point of the piece isn't to explore all the whos and whys and hows, but I couldn't help wanting those anyways. I think it's just me as a reader. I'm impossible to satisfy.
| Electrumquill chapter 14 . 9/16/2015
The opening works fine in setting the scene. Too bad the Ghost Festival is merely an excuse for most of the students being less than industrious. I am tempted to suggest that the country and city the story is set in should be clarified right away, but I think that those who read the piece carefully can work it out.
I like the sound of the festival a lot. The premise is basically the same as Halloween, the myth of which gave rise to the Night of the Demons franchise! Angela was a demon with the appropriate sense of irony!
I like that the story is embellished with details in the right places, even despite the word limit. Particularly good is the description of the library. And the protagonist is obviously a smart girl. The twentieth century does need to be learned from. The solution is, put it in its correct place.
As for the latter part – with the end of Hong – there are highly effective touches with the phone losing the data for his call and the curious way the protagonist expresses her disquiet – “what ghost are you being…?” Creepy in retrospect.
| TheClosetWriter16 chapter 14 . 9/15/2015
Hi! So glad I decided to check out the RG. This is not the type of story I would traditionally read on fictionpress and, yet, it is so up my ally.
Writing: You have a nice writing style that flows very well, with just enough of the Chinese to make it seem realistic balanced with familiarity of a life we can all relate to, with studying and such.
Setting: The first line really draws us in. You set out the scene nicely, explaining the culture and festival descriptively in a way that wasn't too factual but more through her relationships with her father etc. I also liked the way you subtly weaved some history into it to help us understand the character's past with the oil-fried ghosts.
Dialogue: The dialogue was easy to follow and, instead of being confusing, the small bits of Chinese actually helped in further setting the scene and adding the to the believability.
Ending: Oh man that ending! That's what sealed the deal for me in absolutely loving this short story. It was so deliciously haunting, especially with the short bursts of intermittent dialogue. The moment when she/we simultaneously realise, the bowl crashes onto the floor, and then those last two creepy lines occur.
Really enjoyed this! :)
| Timbo Slice chapter 14 . 9/13/2015
Writing: I found the inclusion of Chinese vernacular really gave this piece a unique voice. The descriptions of the settings also brings about an interesting mixture of old world Oriental practices with the festival meets new age with the university and technology.
Setting: as I mentioned for the setting, I liked the Ghost Festival because of the accurate way you tried to portray their cultural heritage and the detail of how you put it into the writing. The scenery was also rich in description that complimented the light yet brooding feel to this piece.
Dialogue: again, having the characters speak in simplified Chinese really gives a realistic flare to the story (even if it is just a couple of words). I thought the various lines of dialogue complimented the characters well.
Ending: such a freaky, surreal moment to end on. If there was any allusions to that twist, I surely must have missed the subtleness of them, but what really stood out to me was the apparent malfunctioning of electronics with the phones being a sign of his deceased spirit and the empty call log from her phone. Still I appreciated the effectiveness of the twist and how it makes you rethink what you just read.
| LuckycoolHawk9 chapter 14 . 9/13/2015
I really liked how you have her be in denial of the supernatural and her friend's death because it shows that she is very human and gives her an interesting character trait. I also liked how you had an echo at the end because it showed that he was still going to watch her in the afterlife which is interesting. I also loved the opener because it makes you wonder why she owes the ghosts too. Great read.
| Jalux chapter 14 . 9/12/2015
Yeah I'm going to go with the general consensus that this is one of your stronger pieces. Dialogue was in particular stood out because there was heavy dialogue both in the narrator's mind and the actual spoken lines. One line that stood out to me was the "Everyday, if you want" because promises like that always end up not being true and it was ominous I guess. I think the structure and pacing was sublime, it's short but packed feel of detail and you keep wondering where it's going. All in all, a solid effort and good luck in the WCC.
| Hedonistic Opportunist chapter 14 . 9/12/2015
I've sort been absent - and there are many reasons for it. Thesis, an impending move to Swindon and well, Hannibal's series finale (for now) being so awesome that I suddenly drowned in a world of fix-it fic and what knows XD. I have been seeing this story pimped at the RG though, and am glad I finally found the time to read :D
In short, this is delightful - I am faving the entire series, because of this particular story. I don't know why I feel you outdid yourself here, but one thing that really did strike me was the thought that this felt like reading a published short story in a book rather than an online collection of 'amateur' fiction. I think it's because your writing is not only crisp and wonderfully detailed here, but it really feels like your own. There's an essence of affection and familiarity to this piece that feels like you're speaking out to me, without revealing anything about yourself. I feel like you know this world, you fashioned it after your own experience, but still kept it something that is fictional – something that you made up. That's kind of gorgeous and lovely, because it makes the reader feel close to your world, and closer still because they feel that this is something you're familiar with (the college setting, the religious rituals, the rules of a hometown that is still lagging behind in terms of modernity).
You should write more things like this – I think you do slice of life mixed with supernatural very, very well. But yes: I loved the setting in this. It was realistic, tinged with nostalgia and love that really caught the haunting nature of this piece quite well. I really love how it's a WWII building in an Asian setting: it's like bringing two worlds together (and in a way you are: with the girl being more modern, while the boy who visits her representing a more traditional world). Gorgeous stuff really.
I love the tragedy of this piece, of this unspoken relationship that seems doomed to never develop, because of how these two people are too shy /scared to confess, and how they're constrained by society. You can tell how close they are, and part of me was wishing they would at least say something but I think the beauty of this is is that it's all left unspoken (and doomed eternally by death). I don't always feel so much for a couple in such a short piece, but you really did nail their interactions well – the familiarity, the longing and the mourning when the girl realises that he really is gone.
I also think the structure of this piece is gorgeous: the way you build it up to be a ghost story, then make it seem to not be one and then remind us – BAM – that this is a story about ghosts. I think that you had me fooled for a moment there, and that's kind of cruel as well as it is memorable. I love this piece.
Thanks for sharing :D Sorry for the typos. I typed this review out in a rush because I had so many feels XD
| Encore19 chapter 14 . 9/11/2015
Wow! Congratulations! I'm so glad I got to read this! Okay first off, great job with the wording. It's obviously so refreshing to read. A lot of people take great effort into how their first chapter comes across and you've done very well to retain that elegance all the way to your fourteenth chapter. Your character is likeable and the story-telling is really neat. My favorite line was definitely the "she had a sudden crazy thought" part. It really just jumped off the page for me and I felt that longing inside. Since I should help you out with some negative critique when I read the sudden transition between Yng Yng leaving the library and suddenly meeting Hong I found that a little jarring. Now at the end of your chapter I didn't realize something was missing until you threw it at me and that was the suspense. I loved the attention you put on the aesthetics of the page. It's so sad, all the holding back she did with her last conversation with Hong... it makes the chapter name 'Oil-fried ghosts' so poignant. Great job!
| O.T.A chapter 14 . 9/10/2015
OMG... I love this tory already.
1) I liked the opening. It was a one-liner that was strange enough that it was eye catching even to new readers. Imagine if someone had your open and flipped to a random page. If this was the page, they would probably decide to read the book.
2) I liked the description. It starts out with a normal scenario like college life but then adds in the abnormal.
3)I disliked that the dialogue didn't have information between them. I can read what they are saying, but sometimes I don't know how they are saying it and I don't know what they are thinking. I don't know what the protagonist thinks in the middle of sentences or what they are noticing.