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for The serpent's fruit

7/15/2011 c1 1A. Gray
The opening of this piece made me want to read more. It intrigued me and hooked me in very well.

The ending was wonderful too as much as it wasn't what I expected. I thought they would kill him or release him and he would go home, but that didn't happen. Instead I was left to wonder what was going to happen to him now that they turned him into a mindless zombie in many ways.

The writing was good, but in some ways confusing. While it made the tone and flow of this piece excellent I found myself last in the first part. It took me a while to make the connection that the woman was with the missing man, and the father was the father. I did finally get it when they were at the table and the father wanted her to take a room, but when they were walking down the street I could only think, "Why is she following him?"

Overall I enjoyed the piece. I felt myself cringing at the torture he had to experience, and feeling bad as he lay waiting for death. The interaction between the woman and father was very little, but enough to get us to know them to understand what the man was leaving.

I thought this was a good piece, and I would like to read more.
7/13/2011 c1 16Dragon made me do it
Hello from the RG!

(Yes I am aware this is more than is required for an easy fix but I like the story and wanted to say more)

I have to confess, when I saw 1998 in Jakarta, I was expecting this to be either about the protests in May or the fall of Suharto in November. Instead you have chosen a less talked about subject

I heard a few speakers from the PRD and it did seem that they were one of the most critical voices of the government and also one of the most suppressed. They didn't seem to really get any attention in the Indonesian media at the time.

I heard a bit about these 'sweepings', but I think for somebody living in Indonesia with your background it must have been quite a big deal. I know many people who put off travel at this time.

I really like the way you described the invisibility issue here. 'No one saw a thing. No one... there will be no interviews with the international press. ... Stamping out his past, his future - everything about him'

I always found it difficult to comprehend this strange marriage between wonderful generosity and politeness on the one hand and suppressed violence and lack of desire to hear about it due to a fear of confrontation on the other that seems to take place in Javanese/Indonesian society, particularly at times of crisis. I love the place, but I am quite disturbed by this. I think you express this really well. the danger in writing about this sort of subject is that you either lambast the society and portray it as a place with nothing of worth, or you become an apologist for people doing the wrong thing. you have managed to avoid either of these traps and have presented the situation for all its complexity and emotional integrity.

Your description of the drowning is really quite chilling. 'The chill of the water in rivers down his neck, down his chest as they yank him up by their hair'. and just the mention of special forces scares me.

You might want to expand 'PRD', because not many of your readers outside of Indonesia will know what this stands for. Unless for some reason you want to keep it unexplained. I say this because I think this story wouldn't have to be read by somebody who understands the history, even though you have not explained the historical context. I think it can be understood on a more human/emotional level.

I wonder whether it is deliberate that you do not mention Suharto, Golkar, the events which came afterwards in 1998, years of dictatorship etc - is this because you assume the reader knows this already or is it just that you want to focus the story in on this particular moment for these particular people? If it is the former, I wouldn't make that assumption, but if it is the latter, I can see your point and this works well as a stand-alone.

Is there some significance to choosing Kresna for his name? I know that it has a lot of meaning that comes with it to Javanese people.

I really like the approach you have taken here, your writing style is perfect, and the subject matter makes for great material. Have you ever thought of publishing it?
7/11/2011 c1 6Ezekiel Finch

Thank you for your review on my story Cleansing Rituals and I thought I'd return the favor!

I'm a history major in college and I always stress the importance of historical context in literature. This piece has a very important historical factors: the PRD (the Partai Rakyat Demokratik or People's Democratic Party in English). The sheer chaos of revolution, the desperation, the mindless torture; it all sets up the plot for our unfortunate protagonist. The real kick for me though is that the PRD is a student movement. Kresna's father confesses that he pushed him into the PRD which can only mean that either he is a professor or that Kresna was not pro-PRD in the begining and that his torture was mindless bloodshed.

I really like the literary form you take into this piece. It is very reminiscent to a musical cycle where the end of a song marks the begining of the same song. It was very clever and very sharp and it really shows the amount of plotting you did to execute your idea.

Your characters are very well created. We don't need to listen to each and every person's backstory and you know that. Each character is a device to push the story cycle along and that's the end of it. You give us the feeling of movement as we switch from character to character and scene to scene. For example we don't need to know what Della is going to name her child or when the due date is and so you don't divulge unimportant details. A strong writers knows when not to speak if that makes sense.

And finally your descriptions. What a treat! The references to heat and rain clashing against the cityscape in the first half are balanced and cool. They provide a brilliant and colorful backdrop against the commotion and the movement of the characters. Then we see Kresna's injuries in the second half. They provide just enough to give us a taste and a taste is just enough.

This was a really enjoyable piece that had so many layers that beg to be taken apart. Thank you for this deep read!

Ezekiel Finch
7/7/2011 c1 Lotus-Hua
A very powerful piece. The conflict of the story is so painful and emotional, and even more so when you put in the events and feelings of Della and Pak Kusuma. A very good read for me.


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