Letter to a good reader

 
 
 
   
   
   
 
 
Dear David, thanks so much for once again providing such thoughtful, intelligent feedback about my writing. You may be one of few to suggest preferring CFTH to The Situation, as others tend to think the earlier novel too long, slow, or weighed down by backstory. Regardless, while I glean that the subject matter (in particular of ‘Nightmare’) or style may not be to your taste, it’s clear that your objective, critical eye enables you to see qualities in the narrative.  
 
It’s interesting, your comment about the present tense. This is the first book I’ve written this way, on the suggestion of another writer whose prose I appreciate for its immediacy. As The Situation would rely far less on backstory or flashbacks, and much more upon present action, I thought the approach worthwhile. Sorry it didn’t take for you.  I agree with your observation about the movement of the plot, and will likely continue to experiment with tense, or point of view. Without the burden of explaining context (at least, not to the same degree), the writing moved quickly this time and I think that’s reflected in the flow of the story. However, my self-critique is that my overall story is a little too complicated for its own good. While some exposition was necessary in The Situation, it also rendered the plot cumbersome. In retrospect, I think the story as a whole may have benefitted from being simpler, and thus more accessible to the average reader.
 
You’ve offered a theory about the ending so let me explain my intentions there: on the one hand, the reference to Weed’s eye color seemed a catchy way to end a story that places eyes at the center of a theme about non verbal communication and empathy.  Less pointedly, I was vaguely aware of juxtaposing the ordinariness of his eye color (though not the ordinariness of Weed himself) with the extraordinary purpose his (and others) eyes may have in the future: windows to the soul, and all that.  Eyes feature prominently in both novels, with lines like “eyes have much to answer for” (from CFTH) signifying a devaluation of anatomy, but also hinting at unrealized meaning, something that breathes life into cliche. Until the climax of Situation, eyes are referenced mostly as a source of aesthetic appreciation–a decoy cliche–with only subtextual premonitions of the paradigm-shifting social function I introduce through the character of Jules Grotius. I accept that my ending may be anticlimactic for some, though I defy anyone to tell me it’s predictable. It occurs to me that ‘anti-climax’ may be an unwitting compliment: an admission from readers that I’d bucked expectations, delivered something original. Actually, my biggest concern is not so much the reader’s expectations, but rather his or her misunderstanding–perhaps the assignment of pretense to my lofty purpose. Only those who know me as a psychotherapist might have seen it coming, and only those primed for psychological fiction (really, I’ve consistently described it as such) might immediately recognize a theme that posits horror (or trauma) as that which ultimately informs social engagement rather than isolation. For this reason, I think my strange, dark and sometimes grisly novels carry positive messages that redeem flawed characters living in desensitized, less-than-conscious times.
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