Sunday, September 17, 2006

JP's Immigrant

Link to Original Story: Immigrant - JP

This story is supposed to have a poetic, sing-songy air to it inspired by The Song of Hiawatha, but I’m not sure I pulled it off. It’s definitely a weird story, but it was fun to write. I like the idea of a folktale that’s been corrupted and converted, and shows in its very telling that it isn’t itself. And of course, that’s the whole point; it’s very circular. I had just finished reading House of Leaves when I wrote this, and I’m sure that influenced the final footnote if not the whole thing, but I had to exorcise that style out of my system somehow. I thought it turned out pretty well, but I don’t think JED liked it that much... it’s probably much more poetic in my head than in real life.

Since I'm dishing out harshness today, allow me to turn my scathing Sauronian eye to JP's work. In a nutshell: I didn't like it. I think I see what he was trying to do here, and I can appreciate the general theme of cycling immigration, how one people flow into another, and back out again. I even dig the Chinese cum Native American world in which he set it. It's a nifty idea. But his execution just doesn't cut it on this one. The "grandfather tales" style narration clutters the theme and makes it hard to tell what the hell is going on. The complexity of the world is confusing rather than clarifying, annoying rather than engrossing. I kept getting stuck on the details of mountain versus plain, and when I felt there was a gap in the setting I'd get stuck trying to figure that out, rather than ignore it for the greater picture. The story arc was a distraction to me, when it was intended to be the centerpiece. In general, I think this was an over-ambitious attempt to cram a deep metaphorical piece into an elaborate, but underdeveloped world, using a highly specialized narrative voice that doesn't fit the tale. I give the young feller props for imagination and the size of his vision, but this time it just didn't work out. I say this in all good humor, because I can promise that in some of his upcoming stories it works out awesomely.


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