Hatrack River
Home   |   About Orson Scott Card   |   News & Reviews   |   OSC Library   |   Forums   |   Contact   |   Links
Research Area   |   Writing Lessons   |   Writers Workshops   |   OSC at SVU   |   Calendar   |   Store
E-mail this page
Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Discussing Published Hooks & Books » SATO, by Xavier Navarro Aquino

Author Topic: SATO, by Xavier Navarro Aquino
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
We made our way past the old mossy creek into the vines of the woods. The ground had been saturated by the downpour the night before. At a distance you could hear the birds mingling and the crickets buzzing out of tune. The lizards climbed the bark of the old trees while centipedes and worms crept on the floor beneath us. It never occurred to them where we were going. Many times they just wanted to escape. Yamilito and I never returned home until nighttime, and Rosa, though she was expected before nightfall, always ended up missing curfew. She'd then tell me next day at school of her beatings and her bruises under her shirt. It pissed me off sometimes, just to hear her stories of her deadbeat dad. I'd tell her to punch him in the nuts or cut up his face real nice, but she'd always respond by saying, "Paqo, eso no se hace." Like the machismo of her dad would be harmed or something.
Posts: 1180 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think openings like this are especially important to discuss on Hatrack for several reasons. One, it's a slow buildup. We get description first, of walking through the woods. The reason that it works, however, is because of the vibrant language that reads almost like poetry.

People read prose for different reason, but immersion is at the top of many readers' list. Walking through a forest you've never been in is reward all its own. As I sit in this small apartment in Seoul, it's rare that I hear birds mingling or crickets buzzing (though as summer approach, there actually is a drone from crickets that saturates the city in the evening).

I've always enjoyed personification, and so that line about the woods' wildlife not knowing where the narrator and his companions are going is interesting. I'm sure it'll serve no real purpose in the story, but it gives a bit of definition to the POV that he'd even consider a crickets' consideration of him.

And then we get to the point of the opening, and I'm guessing the jump off point of the plot: the POV's concern of Rosa and her father beating her, and how this situation can perhaps be resolved. The writer does something here that I've sometimes been critiqued for in NATURAL POLICE, which I always found strange, and figure it's by readers who don't read non-white fiction. We can only assume, since these are characters from a Spanish speaking country, that every thought and every dialog is done in Spanish, unless otherwise noted.

And yet in this opening, when the POV suggests to Rosa that she cuts off her father's nuts, the response given is in Spanish. In critiques I've had people question my characters suddenly thinking a thought or saying something in Korean, not seeming to appreciate that it adds to the milieu. Just as the crickets droning and the birds mingling adds to the milieu. It helps transports the reader to a different world.

One interesting caveat, though, is that as I've gotten older, I can't help but sympathize with the father, though of course can't empathize with him. A young girl out late night with several guys is recipe for potential disaster. Violence against one's kid is never the answer, and the story's opening describing the father as a deadbeat, along with the bruises strategically placed where they can't easily be seen, paints him as the antagonist.

Fiction from Amazon's 'Day One', which is where this story comes from, generally has amazing language and compelling characterization, but falls a little flat where plot and resolution is concerned. Like most literary fiction, 'Day One' stories simply end. There's no epiphany, no greater understanding of the questions the narrative sets up. I guess this mirrors real life, as if humans were constantly getting epiphanies from the subplots of their lives, perhaps the world would be different. But as a reader, it's always so unsatisfying.

'Day One' does make a point of pairing every monthly story with a monthly poem, so language is definitely the journal's aesthetic. And it is one of my goals to publish a short story with them, so we'll see how that goes since in two years I've never seen them publish genre fiction. Which is weird for Amazon that has such a large reader base.

Posts: 1180 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

Quick Reply

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins

Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:

Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2