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10/30/2011 c1 16Ioga
My summarizing statement about the story: prompty prompt prompt. ;)

First prompt thought: "Oh, Siddharta. THAT explains why a guy like this is called 'Sid'." It's completely irrational, but before I made the connection I just couldn't fit the name and the nature together. It was just surprisingly difficult, and I'm not sure why.

Second prompt thought (not in correct temporal order): Biblical Maries show up exactly twice, it feels suspect - "Maybe this was the prompt? That would explain it." Whenever something strange shows up in one of these WCC stories, I pause and wonder if it was a part of the prompt. (It's cool when you explain the prompt in the end too, so I can go OHHH.) There was kind of much strange in this story, but I was completely wrong on the prompt on all accounts. I tried to fit Mary in it, and the lists, and the pants. None of them fit! Maybe that's why his maternal ghost was so hooked up on the pants. They didn't fit!

This is the second ghost story I read from you, by the way. I'd like to count Cowardice as a ghost story too, but it's a different sort. These are past dead people. I liked their appearance in Knitting better, more ghostly. The mother is a bit weird, she turns around so totally and suddenly after getting hit by a train on their road trip.

The final "those pants" made me wonder if memory ghosts can make jokes like that. "I'm continuing on this track, except I'm not." Can they verbally fool the bearer of the ghost, when it's the bearer's brain activity that brings them into being, and presumably their interpretation of the underlying feelings? Can ghosts *pretend*?

The story had a lot of lists, it felt. Mary's attributes: ok, this is repetition for power, not so much a listing. Then what's for lunch. Then Holy Mary's titles. Then the sights. The disconnected list of brief events on their road trip, like photographs in an album seen by a stranger. Then the list of places and seen things, the list of means they used to get back. All these lists made me feel a bit listless. ;)

Hah. I actually only understood the pun in the title now that I went back to look at how it reflects upon the fluid narration. Nicely done! :)

All in all, happy ending is happy, Sid gets closure with Mom. The path in between felt a bit jerky, and opened up a few elements (like the hail Maries) that were a bit confusing. Actually, coming to think of that particular one, maybe they could have been taken further, or maybe the story would then get too many centers. But for example the "literal" meanings of Mary, like 'bitterness' and 'rebelliousness' and 'wished for child' or 'beloved lady' (according to Wikipedia) seem to fit the story nicely, but the two hooks to the biblical Maries do not yet cascade these kinds of undercurrents into a magnificent waterfall. (The mom would have to have been called Mary too for this purpose, naturally, otherwise the connection would remain thematic rather than direct. ;))

And that seems to be the extent of literary droplets I can pun-point from this story; now I must dam the flow of commentary before I am seized by the wandering thought police!

Thanks for this!
7/14/2011 c1 6Cole Culain
One depth review for the RG, coming up.

I'm going to begin at the end for this one. The ending certainly had closure, for it wrapped up Sid's feelings about the river and his mother and his dependence. However, it seemed rather abrupt, and a little... well, strange. There was little that he did in the story that led him to that point. The story was good, but the end seemed a little mismatched.

The pace was also a little strange. It moved along well at the beginning, and had a logical flow. But then, as soon as Mary proposed a trip... it's like the dam broke. The story just rushed along, flashing from one thing to another with no sense of transition. It felt a little weird.

The characters here seemed empty, but to me, that felt right. Mary seemed like nothing but a name or concept, and I didn't mind that. Sid seemed a little flat, but that made sense. The characters didn't develop much until Sid at the end, but in this story, that was okay.

Another thing I want to point out... at the beginning, I had a really confusing time with the 'river'. Also, you said "I lied". In a third person story, don't do that. You could have said. "Wait, no, that's a lie." Leave the "I" out unless it's dialogue.
7/13/2011 c1 11Javajive
Sorry, I'm later with leaving a review for you than I had intended.

A very original take on the prompt, straight from the start with Sid imagining his mother in the river. I initially thought you’d follow Siddharta (Sid) and make a little twist on that story so it was a nice surprise that you went a different route.

Your characters: protagonist who struggles so hard to be the person he believes his mother wanted now that she’s no longer around. Seemingly following an inner voice which is nothing but his own projection of her demands on him. I felt like you portrayed a non-person here, a grown-up who hasn’t actually managed to grow up yet.

The nagging about the pants was cleverly done because just by writing those few lines ‘mother’ became very clearly defined for me. I could hear her voice, how she kept pestering about insignificant matters.

I think you described the clinging onto the past so hard you lose sight of the ‘why’, really well. ' I don't know if I can leave this place.' How they follow rivers across the country and this attachment just refuses to let go. It's easy to think that relocating, going on a trip, moving will enable us to leave our problem behinds. I particularly appreciated that you picked up this theme, how hard it is to move on and let go.

The blurred lines between Mary and mother are interesting. I can’t help it but I felt slightly uneasy reading the passages of how Mary tried to recreate the world so that Sid wouldn’t have to move on. And then somewhere along the trip, Sid begins to tug at those roots, trying to pull them up, the saying goodbye to his mother on the platform, the Mary Magdalene part where he's anxious but realizes that this Mary is her own person.

I have no criticism about how you crafted the ending but I’d have liked to see Sid come to the ‘be your own man’ conclusion by himself and not being told by his mother. She is right back there telling him how to live his life and he says ‘Okay’. If my review makes no sense at all I apologize, I have hardly slept this week. I still wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed this little story.

- Java
7/12/2011 c1 4lookingwest
I didn't like that the pace seemed to move so fast...mostly because I think there's just so much story here and it moves over a big amount of time and setting and I would have liked to have seen more description, or at least a honing in on one specific setting. That being said, I really did like that you started at the river and ended on the river, that kept the theme together and it circled well! I also liked the creativity of naming your main character Sid-as far as the prompt goes, at least. However, I wasn't sure how much I liked the literal river and Sid take on that prompt. Oh, but then speaking of the opening again, I really did also like how you introduced his mother and how you started that with the reflection in the river and everything, I thought that was creative! Overall, I understand this was for WCC and I liked some of the creativity but I think the idea and bond with Mary was just so that it might have a lot of potential for a novella or any sort of longer piece!
7/12/2011 c1 5Whirlymerle
I liked the opening because I thought it was engaging. The ‘grandchildren’ line surprised me, because I honestly thought it was the river speaking to Sid, and I enjoyed the twist with his mother. The river sounded very much like a nagging mother indeed. :)

['Sid, lunch is ready!' Mary yelled from their cabin up the hill. 'Coming,' Sid replied, and paced up the hill.] Since you have two people talking, you should split it up into two paragraphs.

Though I enjoyed the piece for its unique ideas, I feel like in, some of the mini sections, there was too much telling and not enough showing, and thus hindered my overall enjoyment. Also, I feel like the mother/river’s last lines were almost comical; I’m not sure if that’s the mood you were going for or not, especially compared to your other scenes.

Good luck in WCC!

7/12/2011 c1 63RedactedNoLongerWriting
I liked Mary in this. She felt realistic to me, and actually more developed than Sid, in my opinion. He did a good job describing her, because he focused more on her actions and views than his own so it was strange to read at times. I kept wanting to get a better sense of Sid but he seemed to just be reluctantly reacting to things a lot. While I understand that from the sense that he was following his dead mother's instructions, it was a little slow at times. The ending felt a little odd too because the river/mom/conscience(?) spends the whole time nagging but as soon as he stands up to it it stops. Okay, I can see that, but after the development he's clearly gone through on his trip/with Mary it felt strange to me that the river was still nagging him. If it's something in his mind, why wouldn't its POV change as he perceived his own changes in perspective? Other than that, though, I thought this was really cool. I liked the idea of the mother figure as the river, guiding him as it did, and the symbolism was subtly done.

Great job and good luck in the WCC!
7/8/2011 c1 18Stephanie M. Moore
The first couple of paragraphs are a little stiff, but once you get into the narrative, things start to settle into a rhythm.

"Her waggling finger of disapproval vibrated with the river's current."

I'm not a big fan of your use of "vibrated." I don't think it fits with the image or voice of the rest of the piece.

I'm a little skeptical of his ability to make a pine cone shatter into dust by simply kicking it against a tree. That's not very believable.

Double meanings are okay, but the triple meanings, the way you use a single sentence for several interpretations kind of kills the flow. I think the reader knows that "I don't know if I can leave this place" means that he has issues letting go. Don't be afraid to let the reader figure things out on their own.

I'm a little worried about Sid's mental state. I don't know if this intentional, but based on his resistance to change and his strange relationship (mother/sexual partner) relationship with Mary, it seems that he has some serious issues... perhaps autism, based on his social interactions and his strange dependence on women... it's not normal.

It sort of defies logic that a river can be "deathly still." They're constantly flowing, even if it's a current below the surface.

This was nice, and you created a good sort of flow. But there are several places where the descriptions, the prose feels a little forced or overdone. You're headed in the right direction with your writing style and phrasing, but it lacks the effortlessness that you see with really good writers. I think it just comes with practice.

Yeah, but overall, I enjoyed this, and I think you had an interesting take on the prompt. Good luck with the contest.
7/2/2011 c1 too.much.of.water
Oh this is so fascinating and original! Sid's so lovely for holding on to his mother like this and your descriptions and analogies are just marvellous. In fact that pretty much sums up your story; marvellous. There are a few colon-where-there-should-be-semi-colon-or-nothing-at-all problems but nothing that actually damages the narrative itself. It's wonderful how different your story is to mine and I suppose that really shows how good a writer you are, to find such a new meaning in the prompt. All in all, good job :)
7/2/2011 c1 6Gilee7
['Coming' Sid replied] Comma after "coming."

[''I don't know if I could get the leave' Sid responded.] Comma after "leave."

[This was code for: I don't know if I can leave this place. This, in turn, was code for I don't know if I can let go.] Since you used a colon in the first sentence, you might as well use one in the second.

[Mary had a way of convincing people to do what she thought they needed to do through her immaculate timing and knack to make them think it was their idea in the first place.] This is a very awkward, wordy sentence.

[Sid took a breath of fresh mountain air and cleared his mind with it.] Omit "with it."

['That's the spirit Sid.] Comma after "spirit."

I can't say I liked this story. It felt kind of pointless. Maybe if it was longer and had more depth. The characters didn't have enough time to become real people. Their problems, the way they talk, it all seems fake. Even the sections that describe their travels seem artificial. This story feels like something you wrote in a hurry without putting in much thought or effort.
7/2/2011 c1 30sophiesix
Love the sapling metaphor, and teh visuals of teh trip. Mary was great too, i got a really good sense of her character. no spelling or grammar issues that i could see, only "without saying why she thought he needed the time out" seemed unnecessary for me: its implied and the next sentence emphasises the issue anyway?

At first read i felt a bit let down by the ending - I wanted something surprising, like he'd actually killed her and that's why seh haunted him so, or i dunno some kind of surprising twist: I think i've grown to expect that though, so maybe a happy ending does contravert the readers expectations nowadays!

nice work Dragon, it made me smile :)

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