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for A Strong, Windless Place in the Sky

9/6/2012 c1 3hopeless-flame
I've only read this twice.
Because after each time I read it, it blows me away.
This is great.
I love it.
Thanks for sharing such an awesome story.
7/14/2011 c41 2LDS Dreamer
Quick question. How much older is Justin than Kid? Other than that, loved it!
2/9/2011 c41 3hopeless-flame
i really don't think words can describe how awesome this story is:) i love it to death. thanks for writing such fantastic shit.
2/7/2010 c41 1hairspray cliche
ohmygod. i jut read your story this morning. i really love it. it is different from most of the stories on fp. i just wanted to tell you i thought it was really amazing... if i could favorite it twice i would. i think i sorta admire you for this story... i grew up in a shit town so i sorta related with the characters...sorry. this is really stupid so i'm gonna stop.
12/17/2009 c41 Hidden Flowers
Excellent piece of work. If Elle/Kid were real, I'd be worried that she was certifiable, and probably depressed and suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but she's a good character. The general theme of it is bittersweet.
12/17/2009 c13 Hidden Flowers
You realize that 'cabron' means something along the lines of a cross between fucker and bastard?
8/7/2009 c41 6Gilee7
Goddamm.it, this story is amazing. It's three years old, and I'm just now reviewing the last chapter. I suck at life. I'm sorry I didn't review the last few chapters. There's no advice I can give at this point. All I can do is heap praise upon it. Heaps and heaps of praise.

These last few chapters wrapped everything up so perfectly, all Justin's relationships- Kid, Vera, Pete- everything came full circle. The romance between Justin and Kid was handled so incredibly well throughout the story, and it came to a beautiful climax. Their love scene was perfect. It is so incredibly difficult to write a good love scene without being overly smutty, without becoming too obsessed with the act of sex instead of the emotion driving it. You hit the nail on the fucking head, though. It was sexy and hot, to the point I think you should write erotica for a living, yet extremely emotional and tender. There was nothing vulgar about it. It wasn't f.ucking; it was love-making.

The fiancé part could've been handled slightly better, I guess, although I don't know how. It seems sudden, but it isn't, really, especially when we think back on everything Justin and Elle have experienced together. And I love Justin's subtle transition from calling her Kid, to the much more intimate, Elle, as he finally accepts his feelings.

There are so many little details and nuances throughout the story that made it work so well. This world these characters inhabit seems so real. I felt like I was there, and I've never been close to anywhere like it.

I know I bashed the title of the story a long time ago. I never did like it. It just sounded like some lame anime. HOWEVER, after reading the last chapter, and seeing the reasoning behind the title, I now think this is one of the greatest titles ever. And that passage at the end, where Justin describes his love for Elle by comparing it to his experience on the airplane . . . Wow, Joan. Love is this thing everyone experiences, yet whenever we go to write about it, it always sounds so cliché. It's impossible NOT to sound cliché when writing about love. The feeling is too undefined; we can't quite get our grasps on it. We know it, we feel it, but you wrote about it as if you can see it and hear it and talk to it. The thing that's invisible to so many of us, you can see.

[When you sit next to her, you feel like you’re flying. Not in that way where your arms are out and you’re flying over the wet hills of England or some shit like that. It’s like, when a plane is pulling up and all your guts feel like they’re floating and bumping into each other. Her and that exhilarating smile of hers, flying up and down asphalt hills, or through another country on a sweet delivery motor bike, doing exactly what you want to do, whatever pleases you, where everything’s easy and smooth and even work or running for groceries is an adventure—Pete would know—Elle knows.] I've never seen love put it into words so beautifully, so realistically. You made the abstract into something we can see and touch with our hands, something we can all relate to and experience.

The whole story is sweet and cute and lovable, even while it cusses and makes racist remarks. It reads easily, plus it's incredibly entertaining; and, on the outside, appears all fluffy- Yet there's a lot of dark undertones. This is a gritty world, with flawed characters, REAL characters. There's a lot of serious subject matter, a lot of mature themes, yet it's handled very subtly. That's one of the reasons this story is so re-readable. Justin's voice, his personality, his humor, was always so enjoyable. He may be Holden Caulfield's distant cousin, but I don't care. I wish every book was told from Justin's POV.

Joan, I know this story is three years old. You may not care about it anymore. But this thing deserves to be shared with as many people as possible. You need to get this baby published in some format. Please. It's too good to just sit and grow mold on Fictonpress.

God, I've been raving like a lunatic this entire review. None of what I wrote even makes sense probably. If it seems like I'm exaggerating about any of this, trust me, I'm not. This is a genius story, the best thing you've written (that I've read, at least). Again, submit this thing again and again until it finds a publisher. Seriously.
7/28/2009 c1 1Zoius and the Devil
wow. i mean, wow. this first chapter was pretty effing awesome. it's sort of like a more ghetto version of 'Catcher in the Rye.' or something. i dunno, but this chapter was amazing. "I'm so racist...but he's got an afro and everything." AWESOME. one of the best characters i've come across in a long time.

7/12/2009 c41 Brenda Agaro
I truly love this.

This story has so much meaning to it. I love how the perspective flows and the romance is relatable. Beautiful and poetic, and refreshing as well. Also, good literary allusions.

If this were officially published, I would buy it. :-)

There's one typo I caught - on chapter 2 Cisneros is misspelled.
3/2/2009 c41 allhailthesporks
I'm all f*cking teary-eyed from the f*cking brilliance of this story. It pisses me off because I know that not many people would really GET it, but still, God-f*cking-damn. Bravo.
3/1/2009 c5 allhailthesporks
As a fellow writer and obsessive editor, I have got to say now, this is VERY cleverly written. Really, WOW. I'm impressed.
12/30/2008 c2 3Jestry
Whoa dude.

I've read that piece about the red sweater, and how that girl starts crying.

I totally remember it! (:
12/17/2008 c41 1notfortheintelligent
I'm sure I've reviewed before but I'll review again. This is hands down one of the best stories I've read. Online and in books. Your writing ability is astounding. The romance is real and honest. It seems like you've truly captured how love feels, not the overemotional, descriptive nonsense even published authors spew but just as this chapter captures: a slow building awe for another person. You put into words emotions in a way that writers have struggled to do. I'm finding it so hard to do this story justice with my review.

The only bit of criticism I can give is that the fighting sequence was a bit burred and I didn't really believe they could get away from the gang, in the way I believe the rest of the story. But if you took this to a publisher today, I'm sure we'd be seeing it in bookstores sometime soon...
11/5/2008 c35 6Gilee7
[The hands of one guy on the pasty French-looking girl’s hips—halfway in.] What's halfway in? The dude's penis? Or is Justin saying like, he's halfway in the room at this point? Be clearer!

[On the bed behind them. Tied, bound, stripped down to her underwear. The look on her face—red, bruised, exhausted, relaxed—growing wider with fear and anxiety. Gagged. Wrists straining, body bending.] M, I do enjoy a bit of S&M every now and then! It seems odd that Kid's face would be "relaxed" at this point, but I guess that's because they've drugged her.

[I craned my neck to let him know I didn’t hear him the first time.] See? There's that "craned" word again!

[An Asian girl with her hair cut horizontally over her eyes smirked as she walked out half naked. She squinted her eyes at me and quirked her smile. I looked away.] It really says a lot about Justin's character for him to look away like that.

[I started undoing my belt buckle. Kid started to unleash a muffled set of protests.] My eyes widened when I read this part.

[I kissed her neck. She gasped and wrapped her arms around me. I lowered in between her open legs and lapped up the sweat on her collarbone. She tasted like booze and salt and sour.] I was really surprised that Justin even managed to do this much in front of all these people. I mean, after all this time, and all his building emotions, his first sexual contact with Kid is when she's drugged and tied-up. It's pretty sad, really. It'd be even more f'd up if this was where they shared their first kiss. Usually you think of first kisses as being all romantic and memorable and stuff, and I just think it'd be so screwed up- and thus, incredibly awesome- if this is how they had their first kiss.

[Kid ran and sliced up those who didn’t duck, swiping beneath their line of fire faster than a credit card at The Gap. Red. She did an uppercut with blade in hand, slice slice, taking one gun, then two, picking off people in the room with one, two, three, six shots.] I know Kid has killed people before, and she's all, like, bada$$ and stuff, but I think her sudden transformation into Jet Li here is just way too over-the-top. And don't forget, she's still half doped up, so she shouldn't have the greatest reaction speed and coordination right now, especially to be dodging in and out of bullet fire.

I like that Justin and Kid are basically falling and tripping all over the place as they try to make their getaway. That's how it would be- like your feet aren't fully cooperating with your mind.

Overall, I like this chapter a lot. It's very well-written, from the opening scene to the end. I like the choppy descriptions in the beginning, as if Justin's brain is only able to compute one image at a time, like everything's cloudy and in slow motion. I also think you did a great job describing the gangsters and their interactions with one another and with Justin. Unlike the Three Wisemen bums from a couple chapters ago, these guys are actually realistic and talked in a way that was gangster-like without being over the top. The whole chapter was exciting and suspenseful. Cutty and his gang were creepy and unsettling; even the Asian prostitute chick with her snake-like writhing was disturbing. I had no idea how Justin was going to manage to save Kid and escape alive.

I also have my fair share of problems with the chapter, though- things that are just too unbelievable. I already mentioned Kid's sudden transformation into a Saturday Afternoon Action Movie Star. We readers don't mind suspending disbelief, but things should be presented in a way that's at least KINDA believable, and I don't buy Kid going all Kill Bill and slashing everyone up and stealing their guns in the process. You should make it more awkward and clumsy. I like the part where Justin grabs a gun and shoots, and misses everything and actually cries out when the gun shoots and the trigger pinches his hand. That awkwardness is what's believable. I'm sure you can find a way to describe Kid and Justin's escape in a way that the reader is more likely to believe.

The part where the gangsters are just like "Sure, Whitey, you can have this knife . . . surely you won't turn around and use it to our disadvantage!" is just way too convenient for our protagonists.

I like that Justin seems out of it during most of the chapter, because, afterall, he's in way over his head and he's going to have a hard time thinking rationally. I've never been in a fight or anything, but back in 9th grade, there was this black dude that sat behind me in Science class, and everyday he would make fun of me. One particular day I dropped my pencil; the black dude picked it up and broke it in half. I guess that was the last straw; I'd had enough. I threw the remnants of the pencil at the dude's face. For the rest of the class he sat there cussing me and threatening me and telling me how he was going to kick my ass after class. He was a member of the football team, and outweighed me a great deal, so I knew I'd get my ass kicked if I tried to fight him . . . So to even things up, shortly before the bell rang, I went and sharpened my pencil. He came up to me as the class ended, and I was pretending to put my materials in my bookbag, although I was really just standing there with my extremely sharp pencil clenched in my fist. He said a few words to me, pushed me, and I reared back to stab him ... but stopped. Then he was like, "Yeah, do somethin'!" and he slapped me in the back of the head. So, I did something. I meant to stab him in the eye, blind him forever . . . But unfortunately I missed and got him just below the eye, more on his cheek. After that, everything got weird. It's like my heart was beating a thousand times a second, but my vision and my mind was cloudy and in slow motion. I remember the black dude staggering backwards, stunned . . . I remember someone shouting "Oh, my God, he's bleeding!" And then the teacher grabbed me and quickly led me out of the classroom before the dude could react. I was suspended for three days, although I could have been kicked out of school permanently and sent to a "trouble school" if the principal had known I had MEANT to stab the black dude in the eye. Of course, I lied, made it seem like an accident. I said I had just been packing my bookbag when he came up and slapped me; I just happened to have my pencil in my hand when I reacted, and so I guess it had cut the guy. I got off lucky, really. And the black dude never said another word to me, ever, even though we had a class together the very next semester.

And that was a very long story to tell just to prove that, in situations like this, it's almost as if we have an outer-body experience, as if we temporarily lose control over our body, the universe slows down, things happen faster than our minds can compute. And thus, Justin's choppy descriptions in this chapter definitely fit the mindset of someone in a dangerous, life-threatening situation.

Being the perv that I am, something that really stood out to me was the image of Kid in her underwear . . . Yet Justin seems to pay hardly any attention to her lack of clothing- even at the end, when they're speeding off in their car, laughing like maniacs, even while they're still in their underwear. I guess a person wouldn't really think about sex in a situation like this . . . But considering Justin's pent-up feelings for Kid, I'd imagine that seeing her half-naked, even if she is bruised up and coked and in a room full of gun-toting gangsters, would be SOMEWHAT arousing. It'd be nice if he at least made mention of her figure, of her breasts or her panties or something. And even when he kisses her neck and is in between her thighs, he's very serious and platonic about it, as if it's in no way sexually titillating.

But for all I know they may pull over and f.u.c.k. like rabid monkeys in the very next chapter. I've got my fingers crossed!
11/5/2008 c34 Gilee7
Nice opening paragraph. The Unnamed City still seems too over the top. You describe it as if it's the most dangerous place in the world- but to someone like Justin, I'm sure it would definitely would seem that way. And perhaps it isn't too much of an exaggeration. A few months ago, me and a friend went and volunteered for the Obama campaign. They sent us to the extreme ghetto to canvas door to door. Of course, my friend and I, being naive white kids, had no idea that we were entering the most dangerous section of the entire county . . . It was quite an experience. At first it wasn't so bad, but as we got deeper and deeper into the ghetto (or, as I call it, "The Heart of Darkness"), I seriously began to fear for my life. All these 11-year-old, 12-year-old black kids were smoking weed on the sidewalks; everybody kept eyeballing us; pitbulls were barking at us; swarms of black people with crying babies in the background would come to the door when we knocked, sometimes inviting us inside, sometimes asking us if we had a joint. The only white woman we saw turned out to be a drunk prostitute with a black eye, who swore up and down that she was related to George W. Bush. Since we were supporting their candidate, I guess they decided to spare our lives . . . But, and this no joke, about two hours after we left, a man was shot and killed on one of the exact same streets we had been going door-to-door.

So yeah, I guess the Unnamed City may not be the exaggeration I originally thought . . . Although I still don't like all the "mist rising from the sewers" descriptions, just because it seems too Gotham City'ish.

[I steered and leaned forward, craning my neck over the dashboard] I guess when you find the right word, you should keep using it . . . But I've noticed you've used "craning" quite a bit in this story. I still like it, it's one of those words that gives the reader a good image . . . but you might want to start using it less so that it stays fresh.

[This question answered itself as soon as I hit the next stoplight.] I don't like sentences that start out with "This question answered itself . . ." It just sounds like something a middle-schooler would write, you know?

I haven't really been pointing them out, but one of the recurring problems with this story is the switching in out of tenses. That's probably the main thing you need to work on in future edits.

[He was cooing. I was staring. He looked at me. “The fuck is your problem?”] LOL. Again, I like the rhythm here.

[Holy shit. What did I get myself into? “The fuck I do,” I said. I felt violent.] Justin's reaction makes me laugh for some reason. I like that he's getting this gangster attitude.

[I turned to see two cops with their thumbs in their belt loops walking real smooth up to the elevator. The younger one of the two tipped his hat. The senior nodded and winked, then the two officers headed into the elevator. I looked back at the clerk with raised eyebrows. “Don’t look surprised, you little twirp. They’re regulars.”] I think this is the first time in the story we've encountered any type of law enforcement. I guess now we know why the setting in this story has such a high crime rate- the cops are just as crooked as the criminals.

[I tried to look as casual as I could, but I kept rocking back and forth on my heels with my hands shoved deep into my pockets.] Another LOL image. The rock-back-and-forth-on-heels-while-hands-are-in-pockets is like the classic white kid action.

[I was about to become Swiss cheese.] Good ending sentence. You did a good job building the suspense, leaving us at just the right moment so that we can't help but hurry and read the next chapter.
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