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Author Topic: Legend of Phoenix Carver (Novella)
Bent Tree
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Instead of sliding the two fingers of Elijah Craig poured into my coffee cup down the bar. Patrick the bear of a bartender delivered it with a leaned in whisper.
"Maybe you should shower more. Seems one musta followed you all the way from Florida. That loudmouth draw is asking about Phoenix Carver. Want me to give him the shoe fly or the fly-swatter?"
I didn't even have to look. Seen him at the airport, same kid from the print shop. Had to hand it to him he had a nose... nose that could get him in a lot of trouble.
"I will take care of it. Just a driven college kid with a hard on for the legend." I tossed back the whiskey and headed over to the table.

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An individual notices an individual tails an individual for a young buck and old stag supremacy contest.

The fragment's language and setting implies a noir drama, though leaves about what artfully mysterious.

Hard-boiled cynic slang language suited to noir is a challenge for outsiders, close here, though grammatically challenged, noir grammar, not per se formal grammar.

The first word starts off less than artful noir, "Instead." Huh? "Instead of" is a prepositional phrase, to mean "rather than" and "in place of." Noir cynics might use a different term and suited syntax adjustment. Prose arts might re-imagine noir's contrast intents. Does Phoenix Carver have an advanced college degree that he thinks and speaks such?

"sliding" likewise, huh? Barroom shuffleboard "shot," "slapped" or "shuttled" are more apt, ideally not a present progressive tense. The sentence's two clauses are a Not Simultaneous mistake too. Not simultaneous often inverts causal action sequence and artful emphasis, too.

Note the sentence contains three "of", a sure run-on sentence sign.

"poured into my coffee cup" another huh? Slopped, maybe sloshed, dribbled, something cynical would be more appealing and more hard-boiled noir. Plus the other of noir's conventions is setting -- bleak, vice and folly ridden social setting's situations. What kind of bar is this? A fern bar? A dive? A greasy-spoon diner that serves booze? A seedy-tramp bar? A hard-boiled cynics' bar?

"Patrick[,] the bear of a bartender[,]" an appositive noun phrase that follows the noun modified takes comma separation. "bear" huh? a plush huggy bear? Or a rabid grizzly? Or what? A bear moke (British: donkey)?

"delivered it with" More opportunity for noir cynicism missed. //backhanded the bourbon via//

"a leaned[-]in whisper" takes a hyphen.


//Two knuckles of Elijah Craig slopped into my coffee cup down the bar. Patrick, the rampant moose of a bartender, backhanded me my bourbon via gossip lean-in.//

"Maybe you should shower more." Vague setup for what follows. A shower follows Carver? //delouse more//? Picked up a louse hitchhiker, you know.

"Seems one musta" "musta" is slurred slang for must of, slang itself for must have. Noir enough, I guess. Not seems, did follow? Pronoun "one," too, refers to antecedent "shower," not the tail person. From Florida to where? If, like, to New York City, a New Yorker cynical dysphemism is indicated. //One musta puckered you all the way from Sunbird Hell.// "Sunbird" resonates with firebird "Phoenix." "Hell" implies bleak settings.

"Want me to _give_" surely a more noir term then give is possible? Like show (him the bums' rush).

"shoe fly or the fly-swatter" "shoofly" (late 19th century) and "flyswatter" (14th Century) are the conventional word forms. A shoofly is a child's rocker seat supported between animal motif uprights, a swing. I don't see either metaphor as apt as might be ideal or intended. "flyswatter" at least extends the "louse" metaphor.

"I didn't even have to look." Negation statements imply or affirm their positive opposites, noir at least as much as, if not more, than other genres. What, he wants to look? Yet he resists, afraid he's got a tell he doesn't want the brat puke hole to see? Excise altogether?

"Had to hand it to him" Dead metaphor, trite, cliché. Noir loves cliché somewhat, especially fresh uses of dead-tired expressions. "hand" is the inoperative word, to mean //credit it to his ledger.//

"same kid" huh? //same brat puke hole// is noir. Noir "kid" is a young doll babe, arm candy, probably a naive femme fatale.

"print shop" huh? bland and nonspecific, non noir. Noir print shops are paperhangers, check and currency counterfeiters, even legitimate printers print money metaphorically in noir's bleak, cynical impressions. //Shortarm paperhanger shop//

"nose" keen sense in noir detectives' sense, for gangster noir, pesky curiosity, the nose that spites the face, for workplace noir, brown nose and nose to the miller's grindstone.

"had a nose..." warrants a dash instead of the ellipsis points, for apt emphasis.

"nose that could get him in a lot of trouble." huh? where's the noir expression? beak for nose, snout, ski slope, mud sniffer, etc. "that" huh? do away with "nose that could" by the dash mentioned above. "get" since a nose is the olfactory organ, noir skews smell for another sense, like sight.

"a lot of" is a mall guppy everyday conversation expression, not noir.


//-- see him into a hurt-load of pain.//

"'I will take care of it. Just a driven college kid with a hard on for the legend.' I tossed back the whiskey and headed over to the table."

Where's the noir? "hard[-]on" to mean aroused, is noir close (much cult of manhood self-reference and other male disparagement. The first sentence is redundant; Carver "headed over" is answer to Patrick enough, in noir. "college kid" Oh a sweet young bookworm dame fatale? Frat crumb? "tossed back" is Western saloon parlance. Noir is more like slugged back, inhaled. And "Elijah Craig" is bourbon whiskey, a distinction particular drinkers note. Bourbon.

"headed over" is maritime slang, maybe cowboy Western. Noir is more like sashayed over, sauntered, ambled, rumbled, menaced, stomped, stormed, blew vapor, yada, metaphors for bleak menace or wary reluctance.

"table" missed opportunity to more show the barroom's bleak setting. Stall for booth, trough table, noir.


//Seen him at La Guardia, same brat mud hole from Shortarm's paperhanger shop back in Sunbird Miami. Had to credit the buck boy, he had a snout for tail work -- see him into a pain-load of hurt.
"Frat crumb's got a hard-on for the legend." I inhaled the bourbon, ambled my chewed backside over to the punk boy's stall.//

First, next, and several reads gave me a sense of noir novel classic The Hunter, Donald E. Westlake, 1962, which inspired noir film, Point Blank, John Boorman, director, 1967, and remake, Payback, Brian Helgeland, director, 1999.

I appreciate noir -- when it fulfills the adventures of a hard-boiled cynic in bleak, vice and folly-ridden social setting noir conventions and expresses something meaningful about the human condition therefrom. The fragment setup implies a complication-conflict contest between an old stag and a young buck, a clash to the death or a mentor-protégé scenario, or both. A novella is ripe for both and which is ripe for substantive and inevitable surprise dramatic pivots.

The title, Legend of Phoenix Carver, is rich enough, I guess. Phoenix, a bird consumed by flame rises from its ashes; Carver, a sculptor. Legend of a bird sculptor? Given name Phoenix is more often a youth's name than otherwise. Bird is a noir term for a female sex object. An apt noir title is more to the effect of //Phoenix Carver Must Die (Must Kill, Must Live)//. Some noir cult of manhood motif might be apter. //Phoenix Carver Must Suffer//?

I'd read on somewhat engaged as a reader, eager expectant if the latter both buck-stag and mentor-protégé contest, disappointed if the former either-or -- but the noir language tone could jump up a blunt meat force trauma more cult of manhood hamfist on the scales.

[ February 08, 2017, 03:30 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Disgruntled Peony
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The first paragraph is in desperate need of commas to clarify the action, and doesn't establish a point of view at all. Those two things combined to pull me out of the story immediately.

The last sentence of the third paragraph could also use a comma.

The dialogue is confusing, as is the narrative. I get the feeling this is meant to be some manner of noir, but that doesn't make it any easier to understand. I would recommend a thorough round of edits.

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