|Reviews for The Hurt That Finds You First|
| Murphy Chapelwood chapter 1 . 1/13/2016
The narrative arc is strong. I appreciated the roundness of it, and the story itself had little to no fat. The "better dad than Kenny" line and condition of his junker station wagon were nice tidbits of foreshadowing of his villainous status. I liked that he explained his actions away by attributing them to "Gawd."
"... bundles of joy."
"... loved them with all his heart..."
I'm wary of these two descriptions. They're are very common, stock phrases. I would prefer something more original in their place, even if it ends up being less evocative. I want a description I hadn't heard before.
Also, because of the brevity of the piece, I think you are missing out on the opportunity to wrap up Matt's failing to go on the errand with the puppies death. It was glossed over at the end, and its consequences are diverted by how upset he is over the deaths. I could see a six/seven year old, especially if he was punished more severely, connecting his failure to do the errand with the whole episode.
| Whirlymerle chapter 1 . 1/13/2016
Hi from the RG EF!
[hurting him] I think this should be “hurting himself”?
[the angels throat] needs apostrophe
Wow! So this story definitely took a turn! I like the opening, I think you write about the first months vividly, and successful bring readers into a lull so that when the story picks up pace in the second half, readers don’t know what hit them.
That said, I think the story needs to do a lot more convincing to end with Matt killing the baby. Kids see a lot of traumatic things, they don’t all react by killing their baby sisters—not that it’s impossible. I think the story would be sufficiently chilling and more plausible if the story ends with him contemplating killing his sister, or reaching for her (leaving more ambiguity instead of grabbing her throat), but if you do want to go for the kill, I think Matt’s emotional reaction to what Kenny says needs to be expanded a bit more.
| Ckh chapter 1 . 11/4/2015
For the Easy fix RG:
Can't say I didn't enjoy this piece (Inner Sadist man, but not that far, only like the Joker would that) and it certainly deals with some mortality issues, leaving for the readers to ponder and interpret.
The characters were well fleshed out within the confines of one thousand words or so, and you can "feel" the characters and settings pretty well, enabling for a more somewhat empathetic approach to the story itself.
The interactions between the characters in particular bring the the main essence of the story, which frankly speaking, felt like the main focus of the story. The readers can see how Kenny's actions influence Matt's thinking as a whole, driving him to a more "brutal approach" to life. In a way, it shows how much words can affect one's sense of reason and rationality, somewhat causing harm to yourself as well.
Overall, I like the general tone of the story and the sadistic ending, which was built up from the very beginning, leading to rather "bad ending" as they call it.
Thanks for the read!
| Anihyr Moonstar chapter 1 . 5/28/2015
I enjoy the introductory sentence right off the bat, already giving the reader a solid setting to work with mentally. Often I write reviews as I read, but after that, I kind of ended up swept up in it, which is great. The whole beginning left me with a combined sense of ‘oh god this is cute’ but ‘something terrible is going to happen, I know it.’ I couldn’t have begun to anticipate what, though, and it ended far more tragic than I might have expected.
The piece on the whole, I think, was wonderfully paced. You developed strong characters in a minimal time space, relayed a lot of information to the reader without dumping it, built up feeling for the puppies and little Matt and his childhood emotions and everything that was important at the time, and then ripped it all out from under him with bone-chilling ferocity. So much hate for Kenny, and a needle of bitterness for his mother, too, though one can only imagine what she’s been through. I think it was a very strong piece and unsettling as a result.
Very nice work.
| C. V. Atwood chapter 1 . 5/19/2015
Review for the hurt that finds you
On the positive you characterize the mom and Kenny. They just reek of being horrible parents with no concern for their kid, and the way they lie is disgusting. His mom isn't even phased by him stomping up the stairs. And there were minimal typos. (ie. angel's throat)
But at the end of the day I just can't say I enjoyed this. Sorry. I feel like a jerk, but the subject was incredibly disturbing and I wanted to reach through the computer and stop it all. I am guessing based on the title that you wanted us to be uncomfortable, but I expected that discomfort to come from displaying and deconstructing hurt. Instead, very little time was spent on the actual hurt. Where was Matt's shock and confusion? He is six after-all. You seemed to rush towards this shocking morbid end. So in my opinion, if this was meant to portray hurt then you missed the mark. If you were simply trying to make people squirm than I guess you got it.
I am sorry but this just wasn't my cup of tea.
| alltheeagles chapter 1 . 5/17/2015
For the RG EF
I like the plain truth in this tale. There is nothing more clearcut than a child's sense of fairness, and this story illustrates that all too well. It also underlines the truth of the saying "An eye for an eye will end up with everybody blind."
I like that you don't whitewash this with a last-minute save or turn it into a morality tale. However, you leave the final coup de grace to us, the readers, to grant mercy or exact retribution according to our own view of the world.
| lookingwest chapter 1 . 5/15/2015
Well, this was super depressing, haha. Per usual you've got a talent for telling a full story - there are usually openings, middles, and ends and it follows along a Freytag Pyramid really well. I can never do that with short stories so I'm always fascinated when I read them. That being said, I'm wondering though if this story could be restructured to cut out a lot of the opening stuff. I don't think the information about the whole year is needed, for instance, or even that it's the summer. You could just imply that by showing it somewhere in the story. I would start as late as you possibly could in this story - in fact, a good place to start might be the scene when Matt first finds the puppies. You could describe them in more depth and even work in some of that backstory exposition with it pulling the read in a little more, and go from there.
Otherwise though, I think the bit where he hides under the car up to the end was well done and I wouldn't change the pacing there - though the *very* end with Matt going into his sister's room was quite an abrupt line of thinking - I would maybe suggest actually leaving it up to the reader instead, and have him merely standing over the crib. Maybe you could have him reaching - but the finality of him actually killing her for certain was a little overly dramatic for me. I know that it comes full circle but I'm still not sure I care for it. The description of the puppies dying was quite brutal and hard to read - I can't say I enjoyed it, but I can say it fit the story and it was memorable which is part of building a good story! And while I also thought your setting was nice, I'm not sure we actually need any of the information about even where they live. You could describe the setting of Nevada's desert-like rundown trailer park without actually naming it. But I liked the setting of the garage, though I'm always a sucker for sensory description - the one moment where Matt says he smelled motor oil was excellent, I really liked that to characterize Kenny. Thanks for the read!
| Hedonistic Opportunist chapter 1 . 5/12/2015
You've got wonderfully rich descriptions at the beginning: they really drew me in, serving as a strong and visually appealing opening for the story. Pretty language is always a good thing, and I like how you keep it descriptive without going overboard :) It also paints a nice picture of the setting, making this piece - initially – seem like something very idyllic, innocent and optimistic.
It’s important to note that story never quite loses its innocent tone, which makes the turn for the darker – the event that makes Matt do what he does (which he was more or less pushed into) – so much more shocking. I like that, I like how you nearly lull us into a false sense of security, only to leave us with such a hollow and disturbing message behind (the cruelty of adults, their hypocrisy and how it can affect children?). I think the fact that you started this story so happily makes the twist so much worse here.
I like that Matt never loses his childish, innocent outlook on the world: he’s not evil, he’s just a little boy who’s trying to carve a spot for himself in this world and who is very affection-starved. It’s troubling and upsetting that everyone him is abusive, destroying things he cherishes. It’s saddening that, in the end, he’s pretty much pushed into cruelty, because that’s what his surroundings teach him. While I do understand that this story is fiction and that things like this hopefully do not occur in real life, I do think that the message you’re giving us here is realistic (that of children lastly imitating their parents).
Of course, it’s debatable if you were going for that theme, I can see others – that of Matt’s jealousy and longing for love (and bitterness at his stepfather and mother abandoning him) getting the better of him – but that’s not something I wanted to address right now. Also need to end this review here; I have an epic headache.
But yup, this one’s gonna stick with me for a while.
| Ventracere chapter 1 . 5/11/2015
Well. That was certainly not the way I expected this story to go. But that said, you did a really good job writing this piece. I liked how the plot flowed, a clear direction from point A to the ending, point B. He saw someone take something that he loved, so he took something beautiful that other people loved, namely the angel.
Another thing that I liked was how the beginning did nothing to foreshadow the ending. It was a quiet town, with nothing much going on in it. It was a dull place that wouldn't give away what Matt would see or what he would do that to his little sister. All in all, it was a nice, if sad, surprise at the end of the piece.
| pumadelic chapter 1 . 5/6/2015
Whoa. Not sure I should have read this just before going to bed.
The first paragraph sets the scene efficiently but is misleadingly neutral. Again, you very casually drop in Kenny's brutality and by the time Matt was really invested in the puppies I knew what was going to happen to them. His affection for the puppies is carefully juxtaposed to Angel's presence -'caressing their tiny bellies' as the parents coo over their new child.
I like the way you prefigure Kenny's entrance into the garage..the 'sharp scent of motor oil' and 'the naked overhead light' tell us nothing good is coming.
You don't overdo the killing of the puppies but we feel Matt's horror.
Kenny's dialogue is a strong point - the dialect works to create a voice. It's horribly ironic that his useless attempt at comforting Matt is going to end with him choking on his own words.
You've taken a sledgehammer to the macho concept of manhood, haven't you..really shown it up for what it is..'his hands were shaking awfully bad but a man had to do what a man had to do'
Negatives..the first paragraph needs more punctuation in the subordinate clauses and perhaps Mom and Kenny are a bit stereotyped as is the description of the baby as an 'angel'. Having said that, a lot of people do live down to the worst stereotypes.
| LuckycoolHawk9 chapter 1 . 4/27/2015
I liked the way you ended this piece a whole lot because it shows how warped the child has become after losing his puppies to his stepfather and as such, wants to kill his little sister. I also liked the way you made the belief of the stepfather because it shows that he simply is a cruel man who wished to hurt the stepson and it is beautiful in so many ways. I however disliked the fact that Trixie did nothing to protect her puppies because it struck me as odd. This dog could have attack and hurt him before he killed the puppies. Otherwise great story.
| Jitterbug Blues chapter 1 . 4/23/2015
The following is an attempt at a review without spoilers (it may or may not succeed):
I think the best part of this story is not only how the darkness builds up gradually, but really almost exponentially. It starts off with rich descriptions of the setting and lighthearted, innocent musings - puppies and Christmas and school, so sweet. There's a mention of his biological dad who'd abandoned them, which starts us off light. Then there's Kenny being an abusive drunk. And so on. And it escalates from there until Kenny is doing his thing - which is horrific, by the way, I was squirming (I love dogs :( ) and then the ending. It was cut off abruptly, which I think was the best choice. We don't need to see the aftermath of that. We can come up with our own.
If it helps, I'd suggest breaking up the first couple of paragraphs a bit more - it would serve two purposes really, one to have these smaller individual thoughts presented independently, and another to slow down the opening a bit more to really rack up the 'oomph' once the sentences start speeding up towards the end. Other than this tiny thing though, it was another great read!
JM for RG EF
| Virtuella chapter 1 . 4/20/2015
Oh, that was painful to read. I believe future generations will judge us very severely regarding our cruelty to animals, and I don’t just mean cute puppies. But here we also have cruelty to a little boy, cast aside in favour of a younger sister and then robbed of the one thing he cherishes. I want to kick both parents for their heartless stupidity. And on some level it does not matter whether or not Matt succeeds in strangling the baby (I doubt a six-year-old would have the strength), even if he doesn’t, he will live on knowing that he tried. The parents’ irresponsibility (because they should have had that dog neutered, of course), combined with their appalling theology, has broken one, if not two young lives. You have shown very poignantly how fragile life is.
“After what seemed like an eternity” - clichéd expression
“the angels throat” – angel’s
| m. b. whitlock chapter 1 . 4/19/2015
RG EF #6,937
Cool to be reading your stuff again. It’s been a while. :)
So, this story… Whoa. My heart was beating so fast as I read this. You did an amazing job threading dread into every sentence. When Kenny kills the pups it was so awful, but not totally unexpected. You foreshadowed it well, especially Matt’s feelings of things not being right and Trixie barking. You also foreshadowed the end in many really effective ways, naming the girl Angel is one.
The death of innocents who never had a chance to live is so sad. Perhaps the only thing sadder is a little boy who is twisted into a killer by cruel and indifferent adults.
Little fix here:
“Kenny stood in front of the puppies. Carefully he lifted *on* of them out of the box by the scruff of its neck.”
Very disturbing and well executed story and very dark and tragic.