Print Story WFC 9 Grab Bag
By 256 (Wed Apr 09, 2008 at 06:09:29 AM EST) (all tags)
Inside you can expect to find:
  • a confession of which particular literary crime i was responsible for
  • a brief dissection thereof
  • comments on those superior stories for which i voted
  • and, as a free bonus, a complete and previously unseen second piece written for the challenge but not submitted

so, i wrote "For Now We See." i wrote it very quickly and then uploaded it unedited. i certainly intended at the time to go back and polish it at some point before the end of the contest, but i'm something of an expert at paving the road to hell.

going back and rereading it now, i can see far too many rough edges poking out. not least, there are six or seven simple typos; pretty impressive for a story of just two thouand words. further, i believe that kellnerin commented on the incongruity of the obsessive tracking of time. she was quite right to do so. I had envisioned the fixed viewpoint of the narrator into the kitchen and imagined how despairingly familiar it must become. i had surmised that the single independently dynamic feature of the room, the microwave clock, would become an unconsciously obsessive point of focus. of course, i forgot to mention any of this.

regardless, i fear that "For Now We See" is too Tom Robbinsesque, what with the gimmick narrator and quasi second person perspective. and yet, were the gimmicks taken away it would not stand on its own. it would instead feel perhaps like a scene excised from White Oleander for being insufficiently cruel.


my votes went to Dian Bling and The 411. Dian Bling wins by milking its gimmick for every drop of amusement it has in it and then not trying to stretch it any further. The 411 wins by accentuating the way an object's story happens at an acute angle to the larger story it is tied up in.

i almost voted for People Have Their Uses based on the title alone, but the story didn't quite deliver as much as i hoped. i may however have unfairly held it to a higher standard than the others based on a suspicion that it was penned by CRwM.


And now, my second unsubmitted entry:

Aria Parlante di un Ducati Distrutto
by Antonio Brazza

Translator's Note: A conscious decision has been made to preserve literal meaning at the expense of rhyme and meter. There are, of course, any number of extant translations for the stage which take the converse approach and the interested student would be well served by becoming familiar with those as well. Of particular merit, in this translator's opinion is Carla Di Bruggio's 2004 translation. To those readers unfamiliar with the piece in its natural form, it is worthwhile to note that, in the original,there is a transition from tetrameter to pentameter between the second and third stanzas which poignantly highlights the transition of mood but which unfortunately did not survive this inexpert translation.

In the oak tree above,
there is an empty bird's nest,
and the midsummer shines,
through countless spider parlours1.

There is a gentle hiss,
and, lower, a plaintive whir;
animal sounds in the air,
but you are silent, my brother2.

A beginning, my brother, is a senseless thing,
a damnable conflation of persistence.
Did ever a tree truly begin as an acorn?
Do not pretend to believe it.

It is I, it now becomes clear,
who disturbs this solstice day.
This steel guitar3 death rattle
could belong to no other.

And thrown clear as you are,
you still deign not to stir.
Sleep a well deserved rest and
turn your mirrored4 face to the sky.

And  as my lifeblood kills the grass,
some small thing rustles through leaves5.
How much better this than a risk not taken?
My brother, my lover6, I hope your last thought was as mine: it was worth it.

[1] The literal translation is "..through the garages of countless aphids." This is of course a nod to the popular but comically inept Italian translation of Mary Howitt's "The Spider and the Fly" by Bruno Tagliatti (1955). Your translator has rendered it as he has in order to make the reference clear. But please know, reader, that he suffered at the loss of the vehicular imagery.

[2] Italian, of course, has no fewer than seventeen words denoting the fraternal relationship, differing primarily in degree of implied homoeroticism. I have rendered these as "my brother," with one exception.

[3] There is some ambiguity as to whether this should be rendered "steel guitar" or "steely, guitar-like". I have chosen the former not based on any strong evidence, but rather because of how awkward the latter seems in English. The astute student will have noted how Fabian Puenta (1999) sidestepped this issue with the capricious but inspired construction "From a dark place of forg-ed iron/comes an echo of the banshee within" and an attendant note that the final line, when sung, be accompanied by the wail of an electric guitar.

[4] If only English, as Italian, had a word which so richly and precisely denoted the particular reflective properties of a motorcycle helmet's sun visor. The translator is well aware of the failings of "mirrored" in this context.

[5] This "small thing" is, of course, the garden snake Lucco, which character presents the Recitativo Secco immediately following the aria. Di Bruggio, boldly and famously, implied that Lucco symbolized the freshly escaped spirit of our fallen motorcyclist. Though your translator applauded this interpretation, he can't in good faith assert that the original text supports it.

[6] The exception, obviously.

< I wanted to write. | Too many Russian novels >
WFC 9 Grab Bag | 3 comments (3 topical, 0 hidden)
congrats, weener by BlueOregon (4.00 / 1) #1 Wed Apr 09, 2008 at 06:17:20 AM EST

... so where's the CFC ...? Oh, never mind.

time, time, time ... by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #2 Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 03:23:21 PM EST
I almost didn't include that comment since once the authors were revealed it would have looked like a case of "You stole my device, you bastard" even though of course you got there first (I never read the entries until I've submitted my own, except for the occasional quick skim to see if someone has taken a really similar approach to mine). Also I apologize that hanging out with too many copyeditors had me doing the math in my head to follow the timeline and having a feeling that it was just a little off.

I actually thought of the microwave clock as something for a permanent inhabitant of a kitchen to obsess about, but when I think of windows, of nearly timeless panes of glass, I think of them having a longer view, maybe marking the passage of days as the sun crosses the sky, not seconds blinking digitally away. It seemed, actually, that the interior and exterior views provided plenty of entertainment. But that's what it would have been in my story, and why yours was better than what I would have done.

Thanks for the vote and for sharing the Special Bonus Entry. It seems you're doomed to host the tenth in a *FC series again; looking forward to seeing what you throw at us.

"Late to the party" is the new "ahead of the curve" -- CRwM

I like the bonus entry. by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #3 Thu Apr 17, 2008 at 06:51:49 AM EST

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

WFC 9 Grab Bag | 3 comments (3 topical, 0 hidden)