It has been difficult for me to receive reviews of my work, as mostly my readers have this desire to keep my books "secret" for some otherworldly reasons of their own. People want to keep my books as "their secret treasures" and I understand and appreciate that, on the other hand, it's not good for my sales! :-D Nevertheless, I encourage people to feel whatever way they want, about my work. But I am grateful to receive some extremely insightful feedback from this particular person and I hope that his insight to my novella, being the perspective of a reader, will prepare all of you and anyone for the contents of my short novel, readying your minds and hearts for what to expect from my writing. Thank you, Zohar Raphael!
Enjoy the read!
"I'm going to have to stick to The Washroom, otherwise I could easily end up with the skeleton of a screenplay by the end of the week.
I began reading yesterday afternoon. I took in the first few chapters, and nodded off for the obligatory Shabbat nap :-). When I returned home from synagogue later in the evening, I got into bed, hunkered down with my dogs, and read by yellowed lamplight long into the night, letting myself take the time to drink in the atmosphere and feeling.
Let me start by wondering how it is that no one has really picked up on the notion of The Washroom as the literary heart? I could just tell. You set up the drama exquisitely, "filling her senses with the eternal...almost poison..." That was the point when I began feeling the anticipation of revelation. But my "here we go" moment came when it was clear you were going to let us be alone with Lucy, and began describing the washroom itself.
Up to that point, you had painted the scenes concisely, generating a sense of place and mood with a subtle ease, leaving behind any need for overburdening detail. You gave just enough for me to see it, and let my mind conjure up the fine details. To me, stylistically, this is the overarching strength of the work. It reminded me of J.D. Salinger describing the Waldorf Astoria, the atmosphere of Holden's train ride, the concocting of a pitcher of Tom Collins in Raise High The Roofbeam...
But the washroom...I could tell you wanted to make sure we were realIy going to be in there, as if we should be able to find our way around because things were about to get very intense very quickly. I knew you weren't going to let Lucy leave the room without showing me the nexus of this story. You fashioned the atmosphere, maintaining the richer detail of the description of the layering elements of Lucy's rising chaos: the broken glass, her hair, the tears, the music, the makeup...while applying your delicate, concise descriptive subtlety to her memories, which I felt you presented with a tranquility that could have been mistakenly seen as an escape when, in fact, that seemingly pleasant glance over her shoulder to the past only seemed to fuel the confusion, the heartache. If that duality of feeling was your object, you nailed it. I envisioned her feeling trapped between all the possible pasts, and an as yet unreckoned present. If a reader sees Lucy in this state, and doesn't wish they could bring her some comfort, even for a moment, they might just be a zombie.
I cannot emphasize enough how your conservation of detail is allowing me to feel like a participant, a collaborator...your prose and my mind's eye. It feels a lot like making music. The space between the notes, the unspoken, the unsaid...I felt as if you left enough space for me to enter with my own brushes, so I could complete the feeling, the timbre of a scene with my own personal touches. I love when a writer lets me do that.
I could see it, feel it...the chiaroscuro of the pub and village; the creaking of the worn but polished chairs; the provocation of body heat, smoke, wine, and background conversation. You let me decide that the mossy bank's surface was warm from the noonday sun, the pressure of their toes revealing the lingering cool of the previous night beneath.
The image of Pierre-August's shirt on top of Lucy's camisole...for me it worked akin to Andrew Wyeth's oft employed portrait style that I like to refer to as "psychic anthropomorphizing", where the subjects are portrayed by their ubiquitous but uninhabited belongings: a favorite coat hung on a wooden peg...an empty pair of weather worn boots. I believe I was able to experience a heightened atmosphere of the mingling sensual innocence in my mind that way than had you taken the time to describe the removing of clothing.
I painted in the sensation of the swirled subtle rush of the water that Pierre-August must have felt on his stomach as he drew Lucy close. You let me imagine the nervous electricity of the anticipation, desire, and knowing between them in that lingering moment.
You wrote of the warmth of his lips on her fingers, but allowed me to imagine what must have been his intoxication from her closeness, mingling with the taste of the cool moist sensation of her fingers, and the perchance trickle of lingering drops of water passing from her skin, over his lips and onto his tongue; the sublimity he would have felt had he then drawn her in closer, perhaps pressing his lips into the palm of her hand as he felt the totality of her body against his...the kind of moment that forever lingers in the pantheon of memory of anyone who has been fortunate enough to have had such an experience. And all the while you deftly cast these pieces of memory across the narrative. If you turned this into a screen play, I feel like I could direct it with my eyes closed. Absolutely tremendous.
It has been a very long time since I've felt anything like this from a work of literature. I'm not so interested in reading fiction if the author is going to leave nothing to the reader's imagination, if they spoon feed the reader so they can focus on snappy dialogue, or action. I suppose a lot people go for that. It prevents them from having to think, or even feel. They can just escape, let it wash over them like a Saturday matinée. Reading this has been a truly intimate experience, and at this writing, I have yet to even reach the end. I've been trying to tend to my garden, though the sun is cold here today.
And now I am wishing there was a way for you wire into my brain to experience my impressions in the moment, rather than this somewhat degraded electronic echo."
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