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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Discussing Published Hooks & Books » JARMO (Page 1)

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Author Topic: JARMO
Denevius
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This is one of the few novels I've read that I think it's a shame that it had to be self-published. Some publisher has really missed on a gem here.

I read this book maybe three years ago as a novel swap with a guy I met in Korea. His novel was double the length of mine, which at first kind of sucked since mine was about 70,000 words. But after finishing reading JARMO, I admit I had a tinge of jealousy. I don't doubt my own skill as a writer, but sometimes I pick up something that's so good that I can't help but feel humbled.

So anyway, here's the opening of a fantastic novel by a young novelist, Adam Spielman. I don't like to bat around the word genius lightly, but what he did in this narrative is superd. And definitely if you are looking for a great read, get a copy of JARMO.

quote:
Merchants throughout the Effavesca had a saying, that Tarkin could boil the eyes right out of a man’s head. They called it a golden death, when a man died thoroughly cooked.

Tarkin Pass was a path that snaked east through the red plateaus and barren valleys that scarred all the land north of the Amentia Wall. Squares of wizened sedimentary rock jutted out of the dry earth and provided wisps of shade beneath the white sun. Arches worn smooth as bones by the sand and wind curved like great bridges over the path, and emaciated pillars supported vast outgrowths of granite. The horizon, visible at rare moments, allowed no hope; every stride of land clear out to the hazy lip of the sky formed a single tortured corpse, the skeleton of a being who had long ago rattled with death.


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Denevius
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Ah yeah, the link: Amazon
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Robert Nowall
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If you're humbled by it, use that as a spur to better your own work. Don't despair.
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extrinsic
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The excerpt contains ample introductory features to recommend further reading, maybe even purchase.

I don't know why or even that the novel had to be self-published. Maybe, if one or more publishers declined the project, the novel doesn't hold up throughout, or, publishers it was submitted to hold biases that have nothing to do with the novel's publication worthiness.

The language exhibits a savviness with rhetoric and expressive language that is above average sophistication. That and a bio indicating college writing study earns a knee-jerk decline from a few houses. Other, less anti-intellectually biased houses might feel the language and the subject matter don't fit each other, the occasion, or the audience, for example. Or the manuscript wasn't submitted to them or wasn't submitted to a savvy and suitable literary agency. Or self-publication was the option of first resort.

I'd name which houses are which; however, respectful discretion and expectable fallout from such indiscretion outweigh that piece of information's value for public sharing.

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History
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It does sound intriguing, and since you have such high opinion of it, Denevius, I'll buy it.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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Grumpy old guy
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Interesting. As an Editor, I'd ask the writer to tweak the first sentence; it is unclear if the 'saying' refers to a person or a place named Tarkin.

Second, I'd ask him to cut down on the use of simile, they stopped me reading much past the first 13. The first page is overflowing with them and I found it annoying.

Phil.

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extrinsic
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I see two similes, several metaphors, and two metalepses, and other figures of speech: tropes and schemes. Too many? Kind of purple? Vibrant and dynamic voice language? Yes and no, strong attitude for a cinematic scene's setting start -- a landscape pan shot.

Edited to add: A longer sample -- I've since read the full sample at Amazon -- exhibits trailed-off language, craft, and organization aptitude a fraction above self-publication par. I understand now why the novel "had" to be self-published.

[ February 27, 2015, 02:34 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Grumpy old guy
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You are quite correct, extrinsic, my mistake. I can't for the life of me recall why I said that. I had read the passage this morning, thought about it on-and-off during the day and then posted my comment. Perhaps it just felt like it was full of similes. [Smile]

As for your added comment, I felt the publication was one pass too soon; almost, but not quite right.

Phil.

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Denevius
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quote:
I understand now why the novel "had" to be self-published.
I'm not a fan of self-publishing. However, I do think that there are times when self-publishing is merited.

When people come up with ideas, they tend to go to companies because they need help 1) producing the idea in a physical form, which is expensive, and 2) refining the idea.

Even the first Apple product wasn't perfect.

Publishers, though, are supposed to be scouting for talent, material that has the potential to be so much more under the guidance of a professional eye. I read this entire novel from start to finish and was genuinely moved by it in a way that some of my favorite fiction has moved me over the years. It also changed the way I saw narrative, tweaking my perspective in such a way that improved my writing.

The way I look at JARMO is that it's a high-quality writing that, as is, will be a brilliant, disturbing read (*very* disturbing at parts) to potential readers. However, with the backing of a publisher, I think it would have surely been so much more than it is now.

Not to say that it may not catch fire as a self-published work, but that the self-publishing route has unfortunate handicaps. 1) Way too many of them out there so it's hard to break through the slushpile that's migrated from the publisher's desk to the internet, and 2) the insight of a professional editor and the rigors of a professional copyeditor going over the work with a fine-tooth comb.

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Robert Nowall
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Well, I was intrigued by what was said, here and on the site, to order a copy. Enough of that sort might make the thing a success.
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Denevius
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Adam Spielman's BOOK OF JIM, recently released and available on paperback and digital. The opening:

quote:
Jim ate the pizza, and it was good. There was pepperoni on the pizza, and sausage, and there were also bits of bacon. There weren't any green olives. The cheese was greasy, the crust was thick, and the sauce was red.

He turned and beheld the angel.

"So I'm really dead," he said.

"You're really dead," the angel said.


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Grumpy old guy
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And?

Phil.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Do you think it's supposed to be funny?
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Denevius
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Satire.
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Grumpy old guy
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Where?

Phil.

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extrinsic
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"and it was good." is an allusion to Genesis 1:4, "And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness." (King James Bible) Creation next to eating pizza is a trivial comparison, meant to be bitter ironic parody though is doggerel. Also, perhaps, a distant allegory of Dante's Inferno.

I'd say the work was more parody and sarcasm (sarcasmus: Use of mockery, verbal taunts, or bitter irony Silva Rhetoricae) than satire; essentially, lampoon, some mockery, and, in all, generally doggerel. The sample I read entails little, if any, meaningful setup for transformation, weak plot or at least opening plotting, in other words.

Satire in its aesthetic expression exposes human vices and follies to scorn and ridicule. A work that exposes human virtues and nobleness to scorn and ridicule!? An inversion of satire's aesthetics; plain, unadulterated toxic sarcasm and noxious cynicism.

[ April 06, 2015, 09:53 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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I was thinking it was written as a kind of Hemingway parody.
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Denevius
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I'm quite proud of Adam. He has a small, but growing (and dedicated) fanbasae online. Almost all of this collection exists for free online, though in a lighter edited state.
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extrinsic
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Most any narrative anymore has some niche audience, the power of the Internet. Who is the audience here? Fans of shock chock.

Actually, The Book of Jim resembles a pubescent boy tradition item from joke folklore. An apostate goes to Hell. The cell the apostate is assigned contains a table with a box of cigars, an alcohol container, and a voluptuous woman. The apostate is pleased Hell will not be as imagined. The cigars won't smoke. The booze container has a hole in it. And the woman doesn't. The joke in some variation is as ancient as civilization or older.

More than a few narratives are based on such and other jokes. Every writer is entitled to one. Readers are best served if they've suffered one. They grow tired quick.

Minor alterations of the joke in the narrative disguise the origins. Also, the plot needs a denouement outcome to end the joke's rumor-like nature and add a transformation end such that the narrative entails narrative rather than per se oral transmission features of jokes. The joke ends on a punchline and no transformation, only revelation and reversal without outcome consequences.

For transformation, the apostate goes to Hell, eventually realizes circumstances are Hellish, that immediate, effortless self-gratification without anticipation and judicious deprivation is hell. The only possible outcomes are the apostate makes an accommodation to being a hellion, the apostate changes Hell, or the apostate ascends from Hell, to Limbo, to Heaven, or returns to Earth for another pass at life, each in some way a favorable outcome and never a doubt of an unfavorable outcome comes to pass. In other words, the ending is telegraphed.

The audience as I see it is middle grade pubescent boys and older who have not yet read this type of narrative or heard the joke. A numerous audience nonetheless.

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Denevius
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quote:
The audience as I see it is middle grade pubescent boys and older who have not yet read this type of narrative or heard the joke.
I haven't been in middle grade for quite some time, nor am I a pubescent boy. However, this guy's writing comes as close to brilliant as I've seen since I read WINDUP GIRL.
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Grumpy old guy
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quote:
However, this guy's writing comes as close to brilliant as I've seen since I read WINDUP GIRL.
Then I'm happy for you. It is rare to find a writer who fires your imagination and stirs the poetry in your soul. I had the same feeling when I first read Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. And, yes, I did get the allusions, and the joke. I also felt that thrill when I first read Anne McCaffrey's Restoree.

However, for me, this piece of prose doesn't even rate against the opening of a grade five English assignment to write about your holidays.

Phil.

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Denevius
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quote:
Mutation: it is the key to our evolution. It is how we have evolved from a single-celled organism into the dominant species on the planet. This process is slow, and normally taking thousands and thousands of years. But every few hundred millennia, evolution leaps forward.
X-Men

This is how many things we endeavor in develops. A slow, steady growth until suddenly a great leap of awareness is made that takes you to the next level.

There's a bit of genius in Adam's writing, particularly in JARMO, that tweaked my perception of writing just enough so that I finally understood a prose craft component that'd been escaping me for years. And it was only after this shift in perception that suddenly I'm publishing more and my novel has come this close on its road to traditional publishing.

I won't stand up for Adam's writing. I hadn't talked to him in about two years, but when I finally got in touch with him again a couple of months ago, I wasn't surprised he'd accomplished what he had so far at such a young age.

Read his work and see for yourself, or don't read his work and don't see for yourself. Either way.

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extrinsic
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Comparatively simple diction and syntax contrasted by subtly strong attitude is a noteworthy takeaway from the narrative, reason enough to closely read at least a portion of it.

And what, please, is the realized craft component that JARMO inspired?

[ April 08, 2015, 02:38 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Denevius
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quote:
And what, please, is the realized craft component that JARMO inspired?

For this, I'll pull one of your lines, Extrinsic, and keep my cards close to my chest.
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extrinsic
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I expect I have a general idea anyway. Seen some growth along those lines in the writing.
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Denevius
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As I near the end of "Book of Jim", I'm struck by how off Extrinsic and Phil's analysis of the writing was. There's wrong, and then there's this.
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Grumpy old guy
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How nice of you to point that out.

Phil.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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A reader's reaction to a story is never wrong. It may not be the kind of story the reader would appreciate, but that lack of appreciation is something every reader is entitled to have.
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MattLeo
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If I can backtrack to Denevius' original post, I think I can see why the opening of Jarmo might have been off-putting to a publisher. It's chock full of figurative language, and that's a matter of taste that divides audiences. The rocks are "wizened", the pillars are "emaciated", the path to the horizon is a "tortured corpse".

And some of the metaphors are not quite spot-on -- wizened means "shriveled with age"; I'm not even sure what the tortured corpse business is supposed to mean. I think it's mainly atmospherics rather than something we're supposed to picture.

But more to the point is that purple (-ish) prose isn't to everyone's taste. Now personally, I love purple prose, but only in measured doses, and like everything else some is better than others. In general a head-scratching metaphor in the opening is usually a deal breaker.

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extrinsic
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"Wizened," "emaciated," and "tortured corpse" are examples of objectively identifiable metaphoric descriptions that subjectively appeal or otherwise. To me, they are forced emotional expression, "tortured," so to speak, from emotionally empty allusions of age, desolation, and decay to describe a setting. The overwrought setting description itself is not for me a consideration, rather that the emotional valence and attitude leans toward neutral, noncommittal, and is therefore superficial. The neutral attitude toward the setting, from narrator or viewpoint persona perspective, allows a positive or negative or both interpretation and nets a vague emotional attitude.

Another general composition guideline advises, Take a stand, an unequivocal position. Early goings, though, for prose advise artful ambiguity, though clear and strong emotion, that timely clears up while a narrative unfolds. Again, though, in this instance, the setting description is incidental to an emotionally unrealized dramatic moment and place, though not situationally emotional, and is not subject to later emotional revelation. A disposable and unnecessary expression -- symbolism and imagery, specifically, that are once and done and left unrealized timely later.

Symbolism and its visual sibling imagery, also used loosely to mean any sensory representational motif, require repetition, substitution, transposition, and amplification of a motif in several timely sequences to reinforce and enhance and develop meaning, especially emotional meaning. Once is incidental and as well best excised or effectively revised, or, more artfully, repeated such that the motif's significance -- emotional attitude -- becomes unequivocal.

The epic law of threes serves as motif use guidance: once likely is ambiguous and vague, twice clearer and stronger, three firm and certain.

Likewise, a motif is a subset of a theme in the sense of a recurrent expression. The theme of the subject words is setting age, desolation, and decay, presumed emotional meaning, though. Another, later motif instance, transposed, might describe a new-born landscape, for example, from blighted, near death-like, to joyous renewal, rebirth, a natural progression that reflects the passage of seasons: winter to spring, seasonal old age to renewed youth. A natural third progression would then be into summer's and adulthood's robust life.

A riddle of the Sphinx, paraphrased for theme and motif comparison effect, which creature has _one voice_ yet comes four legged in spring, two in summer, and three in fall?

In other words, figurative language is secondary to emotional effect. Metaphor signals symbolism, for example, which is to express intangible features, like emotion. The language of the sample presumes readers share the intended emotional response. William Bullough, introducer of the concept of aesthetic distance, illustrates that is a faulty presumption. A fog-bound ship is a potentially frightful experience, and at the time was nearly universally frightful for seafarers, a small population. Landspeople could not feel as strongly fearful about fog.

Emotional response is relative, therefore subjective. A Bedouin nomad experiences a blighted desert landscape differently from a water-lush city dweller. Figurative language behooves clarity to shape emotional stimulus and response, that becomes near invisible backdrop to foreground emotional stimulus and response, expressed from a subjective perspective though objectively accessible. Also, for best dramatic effect, emotional development is such that emotions cluster and clash: fear and pity, awe and wonder, excitement and wariness, joy and sorrow, bright and somber, etc.

And these metaphors, motifs, themes, and emotions and attitudes, as in all things narrative, depend on unity so that readers are attuned and clued in: Unity is the law.

[ April 21, 2015, 08:38 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Denevius
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quote:
A reader's reaction to a story is never wrong.
Sometimes readers' reactions are wrong. For instance, Phil said:

quote:
However, for me, this piece of prose doesn't even rate against the opening of a grade five English assignment to write about your holidays.
This is wrong, unless Phil can produce examples of fifth grade English assignments that we can compare and contrast.

And extrinsic said:

quote:
The audience as I see it is middle grade pubescent boys and older who have not yet read this type of narrative or heard the joke. A numerous audience nonetheless.
This is wrong, short-sighted, and kind of silly, actually, to say of a narrative analyzing philosophical figures from Kant to coloring different shades the Holocaust.

These are two *wrong* comments.

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extrinsic
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Differences of opinion are impossible to argue, more so when use of "wrong" about opinions that can only be subjective is the opinion expressed.

Ptolemy was "wrong" about a geocentered cosmos, by present-day perspectives. Copernicus was "wrong" about a helio-centric cosmos, likewise. Are present-day perspectives of the cosmos any more "right?" Large numbers of reasonable individuals challenge the validity of scientists' opinions for the age of the universe.

Objectivism believes and expects human experience and response are universal, and will impose that belief on dissent. Objectivism reigned absolute during Ptolemy and Copernicus's times. Subjectivism believes, among shared human experience and response, individual experience and response is unique. Subjectivism has always been with us, humans, though kept private as thoughts where imposed objectivist beliefs dissented and is inviolate because of its uniquely inaccessible archive in the mind, unless expressed.

"Wrong" is relative and, therefore, an erroneous application for subjective circumstances.

[ April 25, 2015, 06:12 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Denevius
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quote:
Differences of opinion are impossible to argue, more so when use of "wrong" about opinions that can only be subjective is the opinion expressed.

If someone said that the audience for HOSTEL, Eli Roth's torture horror flick, was for elementary school kids, they would be wrong. Sure, I guess one could make a relativistic argument that kids are perfectly capable of watching a man torture another man, and if said person asks, "Well, why aren't they?", often enough, completely oblivious as to why some material isn't suitable for the sensibilities of some audiences, then you are right that it is impossible to argue with the person.

To say that the audience for BOOK OF JIM is for middle grade prepubescent boys is to say that HOSTEL is for kids.

I suppose it's your subject opinion on something you haven't read, but feel free to stick with it.

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Grumpy old guy
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I didn't say the audience for BOOK OF JIM was anything, neither did KDW. What extrinsic and I have been saying is that the writers style isn't for us and KDW has been defending our right to our opinions.

If you believe he is the best thing since sliced bananas, so be it. Me, I don't care for the style of the prose I have read. It's that simple.

Phil.

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JSchuler
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If a reader's reaction is never wrong, then how can Denevius's reaction to extrinsic's and Grumpy's posts be wrong?

Personally, I side with extrinsic and Grumpy that the opening isn't an example of one I am inspired to emulate. But at the same time, I do not accept that beauty is purely in the eye of the beholder and there is no objective form. That theory has turned the art world into the mess of twisted metal, paint splatters, and bodily fluids it is today.

Reactions can be wrong, which is why they are worthy of discussion and analysis.

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MattLeo
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Powerful writing and skillful writing are two distinct, but overlapping things.

Damon Knight famously excoriated A.E. van Vogt's writing as utter rubbish; he called van Vogt "a pygmy who has learned to operate an overgrown typewriter." But other influential writers like Philip K. Dick and Harlan Ellison have praised van Vogt as an exciting and important author. It's possible for both views of van Vogt may be true -- he may have been a BOTH hack with poor plotting skills and a tin ear for prose AND a writer of powerful stories.

A piece of writing is powerful for you if and only if it moves you in some way. It could be emotional (Flowers for Algernon), intellectual (practically anything Asimov ever wrote), or political (Atlas Shrugged). It either succeeds with you or it doesn't, you are the sole judge for yourself. But skillful writing maximizes a story's chance of delivering it's thematic payload no matter what the reader's openness to the story's message.

So I don't subscribe to the theory that good writing is purely subjective. Some stories are clearly better written than others; but a well written story isn't necessarily a good story. And often even a great story has pretty serious flaws. We'd all like to believe that if we work hard and avoid making errors our stories will be good, but unfortunately that's not enough. You need to have something to say that makes a difference to someone.

Personally I find most peoples' explanation for why they liked or disliked a story lacking credibility. That's because they tend to see nothing but good or bad in a story. It's like their job is to prosecute or defend a story rather than to understand it. The ultimate form of this prosecutorial pseudo-criticism is denigrating the presumed (i.e. imagined) audience for a story. That's both a straw man and an appeal to snobbery.

I always say that in a critique you should alway strive to find at least one thing to praise and one thing to single out for improvement. That's because a critique should be about the story rather than defending your personal reaction to it. Deciding whether you like a story or not is just the first step toward understanding it, and in most cases a true understanding has some degree of nuance in it. As a critic you have to start by *isolating* your like or dislike for a story; you have to put it in a cage so you can study it.

Denevius finds this author powerful. It's worth asking why. That the writing is flawed almost goes without saying; and if the writing is particularly flawed from a technical viewpoint then that actually makes his emotional response more interesting, not less.

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extrinsic
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Acclaim for a narrative is an acclaimer's duty to substantiate, likewise, a panner's, as I did.

Furthermore, language and adult situations aside, Book of Jim is an irreverent, sarcastic mockery and ridicule of virtue, as I noted above, which is why I feel the narrative's audience is fifth grade and above, mostly male, and cultural apostates, too.

And as plotless as James Joyce, Ulysses, Finnegan's Wake, and Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot. Like them, a slice-of-life vignette, not a plotted drama -- a plot entails unequivocal and irrevocable personal transformation as well as external transformation, neither of which transpire more than superficially. Lofty company, Joyce and Beckett, though opposite from them for toxic sarcasm, an appeal for a generation or two of cynics: X and Y. Numerous grammatical errors, too.

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Denevius
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quote:
Furthermore, language and adult situations aside, Book of Jim is an irreverent, sarcastic mockery and ridicule of virtue, as I noted above, which is why I feel the narrative's audience is fifth grade and above, mostly male, and cultural apostates, too.
Why not fourth grade and above? Or third grade and above? What do you perceive 5th graders are reading that 4th graders are not, and, "language and adult situations aside" (two aspects that also help determine audience, but okay, why not put them aside to make your analysis work better), what do you think in BOOK OF JIM that 5th graders are going to relate to?

The collegiate philosophical elements? The British humour? The scientific paradoxes? Nostalgia of a life they've barely experienced yet at 11 years old? Are they going to understand the inertia of a working adult?

Genuinely, I'm curious what made you choose 5h grade as a potential target audience? And is it because the narrative is academic that it's more for boys and not girls? Do girls not know math, science, and philosophy in fifth grade?

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extrinsic
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Sarcastic ridicule and mockery are rudimentary abstract cognitive abilities fifth graders develop a basic ability to appreciate, imitate, invent, and express. Children prior to that age parrot, for practice if not cruelty, the sarcasm of older children and adults. Sarcastic ridicule and mockery of virtue is more common to males than females, and more so male at that age and throughout later childhood and early adulthood.
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Denevius
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quote:
Sarcastic ridicule and mockery are rudimentary abstract cognitive abilities fifth graders develop a basic ability to appreciate, imitate, invent, and express.
What books are you thinking of that fifth graders read that have these attributes you're mentioning? For you, what's a good example of published books with these qualities targeting fifth graders as its audience?

Maybe THE CHOCOLATE WAR? Or THE GOLDEN COMPASS?

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extrinsic
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You support none of your claims. If we're now required to support our claims, cite sources, chapter and verse, I have, and will further, after you.
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Denevius
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Sure thing. I just scrolled through my comments to see what claims you're speaking of. If we're talking about BOOK OF JIM, I said:

quote:
Satire.
The briefest definition of satire is:

quote:
the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
BOOK OF JIM satirizes general conceptions of right and wrong, notions of 'I' (or 'I am', or existence), life, death, after and after-after life, and the idea of objective truth, to put it in a nutshell. This is broad, but again, I'll let the writing speak for itself.

My other claim:

quote:
I haven't been in middle grade for quite some time, nor am I a prepubescent boy.
This is in response to you saying that the audience is prepubescent middle school fifth grade boys. My response is a fact, not a claim. I am neither a fifth grade boy or prepubescent.

My next claim:

quote:
As I near the end of "Book of Jim", I'm struck by how off Extrinsic and Phil's analysis of the writing was. There's wrong, and then there's this.
As I explained, one can make a relativistic argument that anything is for anyone. However, 11 year old boys have neither the academic context to appreciate BOOK OF JIM, nor do they have the life experiences yet to understand the character motivations. Not to mention there are some inventive sex scenes throughout the piece.

THIS NOVEL IS IN NO WAY FOR 11 YEAR OLD BOYS. Can't make that any clearer.

I *think* that sums up my claims. If I have an errant one, let me know.

Now for you, Extrinsic, to back up your many, many claims of a book you haven't read.

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extrinsic
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Satire does not mock and ridicule; it exposes human vice and folly. Satire-sarcasm and sarcasm, yes. Though dictionaries assert satire includes sarcasm, and sarcasm and irony features, the two expression modes are more distinctly different than similar. Dictionaries only go so far for reliability, and reflect mass-culture idiomatic usages as much as denotative and connotative usages. Sarcasm is to satire as burlesque is to tragedy.

I see no claim support, only further claims derivative of claims already asserted.

Who said I didn't read the"book?"

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Denevius
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Not responding to the question at hand is probably as close as you'll come to admitting that you were not quite as right as you'd previously somewhat thought.

Enough, then. No point in beating a dead horse, as my old algebra teacher used to say. If the d*mn thing's dead, just let it lie.

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extrinsic
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What question? The one request for support that the Book of Jim is a "good" narrative is still on the table. Nor am I admitting I'm wrong or even not quite right. I stand firmer than ever on my original positions and now other ones.

On the other hand, I could as easily approach the Book of Jim narrative from any one or more of several dozen different approaches. Neo-Platonic argumentation appreciates every valid argument claim has one or more equally valid counterarguments -- argumentation, not squabbling. A claim need not be agreed to be valid, only credibly supported to be valid.

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Grumpy old guy
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In re-reading this thread it was I, not extrinsic, who suggested the prose was worse than a 5th grader's assignment to write about their holidays.

I still stand by that comment; but it's a personal evaluation. I wouldn't waste a cent on buying the book based on the prose I have read. Again, a personal evaluation.

In posting examples of the work, you, Denevius, are asking for comment. That such comment isn't as effusive as you might think is warranted is no reason to shoot the messenger.

Phil.

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Denevius
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It's a little interesting, actually, Phil. Over the last several months, I've noticed that I'm often left unsure to what you're actually replying to.

You're free to have a personal evaluation. When did I say you weren't?

You're free to spend your money as you see fit. When did I say you weren't?

Others have in the past (looking at you, Phil), but I have never instructed anyone to not make a comment on anything I've posted on this site. So if I put this up here, I'm aware it's game for comment.

And how have I shot the messenger? By pointing out that the target audience isn't for fifth grade prepubescent boys? I'm unsure what's so controversial about pointing out that a comment Extrinsic made is dead wrong. Could not be more wrong. Meets the very definition of wrong.

This is not shooting the messenger. This is acknowledging that some content isn't suitable for every age group for a variety of reasons. Now, I understand that part of Extrinsic's persona on this site is a complete inability to ever just admit when he's wrong about something. And so, yeah, I suppose I'm joshing him a little as he doubles down on his original statement like a dog with a bone.

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Grumpy old guy
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I never realised I was such an enigma. I also don't remember instructing anyone not to comment on something I've posted. However, I'm fallible and the memory of all of us old farts is unreliable.

As for this:
quote:
You're free to have a personal evaluation. When did I say you weren't?
Try your own comment on for size:
quote:
As I near the end of "Book of Jim", I'm struck by how off Extrinsic and Phil's analysis of the writing was. There's wrong, and then there's this.
Isn't that you telling me how valid my personal opinion is. Because I don't see the dubious merit in the writing of this person, I'm wrong?

Omnipotence must be such a wonderful attribute.

That's sarcasm, not satire, in case you're wondering.

Btw, I never defined the suitability of the content for any age range, simply the style of the prose.

Phil.

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extrinsic
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Fifth grade is pubescence onset; pubescent and older -- and older, not exclusively -- I estimated, not prepubescent.

In my fifth grade year, older kids in school, peers, away from school, playground and neighborhood, and church school and service, distributed the then equivalent of underground graphic novels and other Xerox, mimeograph, and ditto lore. The content ranged from adult and sexual situations to violence to political and social politics to rebellion to scandal sheets to how-tos for activities parents generally frowned upon for their children to do to fantastical paranoia and conspiracy theories to chain letters, whatever job shop printers refused to produce. Book of Jim is tame by comparison: a hard PG-16 or soft R-17.

Folkloristics interprets those underground rags' function as children's explorations of adult behavior, expressions of rebellion and free will exercise, expressions of wishful thinking, expressions of frustration, and coping strategies for developing how to relate to complex age-related circumstances.

Many moral authorities, of course, condemned those self-published and crude publications. They thwarted a few and kept a few out of a few hands. No way did they stem the tide; their efforts encouraged the tide's flood, actually. Fruits of the forbidden tree realized as free will exercise is what they are and their inherent temptations serve a social adjustment function. Similar expressions continue to the present day; the underground rag media has shifted from underground presses to the Internet. Parental controls and content blocking applications serve similar moral gatekeeper functions, and the tide is no more or less stemmed than print publications were.

Book of Jim fits neatly into that niche. The illustrations exactly.

I cannot accept that the narrative does not fit or belong in that fifth grade and older age range, as entry level adulthood experimentation content at least, knowing from personal experience as well as deep and broad study of similar underground content from before the Digital age and after that it does fit, regardless of moral authorities' desires.

As to literary or artistic merit, the narrative is a vignette, not a drama, nor sketch, nor anecdote, is perhaps amenable to critical analysis and interpretation in that light. However, three shortfalls of consequence leaves that a pointless exercise, that is, Jim's only response to one and all events is denial and is monodimensional. Jim's sole attitude is denial and is an unstated reliance on presumptions his default value and belief system is shared by the audience, without him once expressing his attitude. Third, that the philosophical content is a vaudeville revue lip service parade used for mockery and ridicule, and not on point from any of each performance persona's core philosophies. Can't understand Kant, then mock and ridicule.

Jim's the same person at the end he is at the start and has effected no transformation. For folklore studies, though, the narrative is an example of an ethnographic constant, regardless of distribution media, technology, and culture innovations.

As appeal factors, denial and persona unchanged in spite of compelling external pressure, ridicule and mockery of subjective philosophies, I understand how those qualities and the adult content might resonate with a broad reader audience niche, though it is not for me. Furthermore, the narrator attitude and narrative message aligns with a political movement of Western European Industrialized Rich Democratic Patriarch Christian value and belief systems: Weird PC, and the political movement is anti-political correctness: anti-PC. I do find that anti-anti-PC clash stance amusing for its situational irony, though not enough to recommend the narrative.

[ April 26, 2015, 11:13 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
Acclaim for a narrative is an acclaimer's duty to substantiate, likewise, a panner's, as I did.

Actually I disagree. Nobody owes anyone else justification for their liking or disliking a story. But if you do try to substantiate your personal reaction to a story then you owe everyone a thoughtful and honest accounting.

The problem I have with advocatory and prosecutorial "critiques" is that they fail the "thoughtful" test. They're almost without exception full of special pleading, bandwagon appeals and appeal to snobbery. For example, anytime a work is criticized for its supposedly intended audience, that's a clear appeal to snobbery, even when that appeal is oblique and couched in jargon.

What should a criticism of a story accomplish? Prove that the critic's reaction is the correct one? Or explain how that reaction came about? If you can't distinguish between those goals you can't do effective criticism.

So I'm staking out a middle position here. A reader's reaction to a story is never wrong. But his understanding of how that reaction came about is almost always faulty. So from my standpoint Denevius hasn't failed in any "duties" when he simply recommends an author he likes. A more detailed examination of how that liking came about would be welcome, but his liking for the writing is in itself unassailable. It's actually the attempts to prove that Denevius is wrong to like a story that are the disservice.

A critique that attempts to prove that someone is wrong to like a story is necessarily wrong itself. People like a story for whatever reason they do, and that is neither right nor wrong, it's just an empirical fact. It's the critic's job to identify what that reason is, and why the story might not work for other people. In order to that you have to put your own reaction to a story under the microscope. An effective critique starts with a searching self examination, not a presumptuous analysis of some strawman audience.

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