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for Last rites

9/9/2011 c1 16Dragon made me do it
I think I owe you one, but if not, I felt like reading this anyway ...

Oh wow and it is yet another tragic masterpiece!

I like your descriptions of the Jakarta streets - you know I actually got nostalgic for Indonesia when I got a whiff of petrol fumes once.

You convey the indignity of death very well here by saying "we need the space for another family." And 'bathroom-like the building, with only low partitions shielding the dead from prying eyes.' You are good at revealing the story and characters through key details rather than having to state it explicitly.

'Five brief sojourns in her uterus. Dita, like a cheap guest-house with revolving doors. The guests come and go as they please. Trouble-makers, messing up, leaving trash behind, breaking things, tearing her up. A couple even had to be forcefully evicted after they had floated around for days, maybe weeks unwilling to check out the normal way.' - This paragraph is absolutely brilliant! Humour and respect for suffering are somehow blended together here quite naturally.

the characters, and particularly their relationships are very realistic here. I can see bits and pieces of people I know in them.

You are a really cutting to the bone of some cultural issues here like the mother being blamed for her sin when she has a miscarriage and 'The minimum requirement for a good Javanese woman.'

'They watch TV as if there is nothing to it. They've been through this so many times. Loss isn't all that special anymore.'- oh dear this is so sad!

you have great skill in unravelling a story cleverly at the same time as forging a strong emotional connection with the characters.

One thing I was unsure about - did Dita get pregnant to different fathers? I wasn't sure whether the reference to guests coming and going was about the foetuses or the fathers. I also wasn't sure whether any of the five survived, or if it was only the first two that died.

Although I disagree completely with the previous reviewer who said 'it was so all over the place' - you only once skipped to a flashback and I felt that this was perfectly clear!

And no spelling/grammar/punctuation errors! :-)

Really another fantastic story from you :-)
7/23/2011 c1 Boy at War
The opening was a nice establishment of setting. I instantly had an idea of where this was from the beginning so that you could focus on the characters. The smell of Jakarta is a lot more memorable than what it looks like.

I was a little lost after Dita brought Aishya to the hospital and was turned away. You sort of abandoned that plot and went on without it, you came back to it in the end but I by then I was trying to recover from my head spinning.

The ending was a little odd too, all through out the story Dita is saying she quit, but you never make it clear what. Has being her mother's daughter restrained her from something? Or was it the rivalry with Aishya, I'm still unsure what was the thing she was quitting.

Finally I was a little shocked she had a husband. You made it seem like she took on anyone but it seemed like her new husband loved her or at least really liked her. I'm not so sure about Javanese culture so perhaps they were all performing duties expected of them, but the idea of him just not going after her after something like this happening doesn't seem likely to me.

I couldn't really enjoy this piece since it was so all over the place, if I had a better idea of what Dita was quitting and what she would have to do to quit it then that would increase the enjoyment I had in this piece a ton!

Congrats for winning the contest also!
7/20/2011 c1 Low LIfe 001
Congratulations on winning the July WCC!

Opening: The opening was sparse, but it hooked me despite that. The description of Jakarta gave me a good idea of what it is like there in so few words, I could picture it in my mind and hear the food peddlers outside the building.

Scene: Dita's reluctance to wash Aishya's body was very emotional, and I could feel the mixture of jealousy and guilt she was battling with inside. She wanted to be a good sister, but the pregnancy and always being made to feel second best to her sister prevented that from happening ... even after Aishya's death (in childbirth I'm assuming).

Characters: Dita came across very well as torn between her blood ties to her mother and her sister while still feeling like she had somehow never measured up because she couldn't bear children. Her husband's assurances that it doesn't matter and that they will get through weren't very typical for a male in that kind of social caste, but it was refreshing to read that he was supportive of her. I was left with the impression that a barren woman was considered the lowest on the ladder by this society.

Ending: Dita paying the woman to help her with the washing of Aishya's body left me feeling sad and her emotions when her mother appeared really came across very well. She wants to be the "good" daughter, but her own perspective of how she's been slighted all along keeps that from becoming reality. She has done her "duty" and little more, and she considers that as enough.

Altogether, I really liked this and Dita's view of her sister and the differences between them. It's a good look at how sibling rivalry can be taken too far just by the unknowing actions of others and by the recipiants feelings of being left out of things for so long. Having Aishya manage what it took her so long to do and then succeed at something she didn't broke Dita slowly over the years.

Congratulations once again!
7/19/2011 c1 Lotus-Hua
What a raw, bold, emotional story! I love the complexity of family ties-the duty of a daughter, the role of a mother, husband, etc. It's a tragedy that's played out so well, thanks to your writing. Last Rites really is a story that does/will strike a chord in people. It was a great pleasure to read. :)

By the way, I hear tell you've won the contest. I haven't actually looked at the forum yet, but in any case, congratulations!
7/19/2011 c1 1CrazyAmazing92

I'm going to start off by saying what I love about this story. It has such great imagery through the words and you do a wonderful job of creating this certain atmosphere that allows the readers to feel the emotions of the characters. Such as when Dita is washing the dishes and accidently drops one but finds comfort in breaking more. I found that scene did a great job of illustrating Dita's breaking point. The only thing I didn't like was at times I would get lost in the story. I would just suggest a bit more fluidity in the flow but overall, lovely work.
7/17/2011 c1 18Stephanie M. Moore
Congratulations on winning the WCC! Your story was wonderful and certainly deserved to win.

Opening: I really like the two opening paragraphs. I love the way you personify the city as a giant and paint such a great image of the city, appealing to the different senses. And then, you introduce the main idea of the piece- the dead sister. You did a good job of drawing the reader into the story with the opening with artistic writing and a reveal of the plot.

Typo: In the second paragraph, you italicize "wooden" as well as the "tok-tok-tok."

Style: I notice that you use apostrophes to contain dialogue. I don't know if perhaps that is just a different style that you were taught, but usually quotation marks are standard punctuation for dialogue. It would also help to distinguish the dialogue from Dita's thoughts. That distinction is a little unclear in its present form.

"Hasn't seen Aishya since she announced her pregnancy seven months ago."

Grammar/Style: I noticed that you don't have a subject for this sentence. Since you are starting a new paragraph, I think it would improve the flow to include one. I do like the way you use short, choppy fragments, though. At times it is a little hard to follow, but overall it's really effective at reinforcing this "stream-of-consciousness" sort of thing.

"She needs to relax, not try to hard."

Grammar: "To" should be "too."

Character: I love the way you contrast Dita and her sister's reactions to their pregnancies. It's really quite poignant. You do a great job of building Dita's emotional climate... her bitterness, her sadness, her despair. I really have a good feel for who her character is, though you pace your reveal well.

Technique: Even though we spend most of our time in Dita's mind and memories, I like the way that you include the brief returns to the reality of her sister's dead body, the way the hospital feels. The transitions are smooth and the interludes really give insight into who she is.

Your descriptions of the dead body and her reaction is kind of creepy. But it's real- for example, the way she thinks that it is too intimate to clean her. The details of her body really give it a surreal atmosphere.

"this is how it feels to lose a child." Oh my goodness... this is a "gives you chill bumps" line. Really kinds of brings things full circle based on the way her mother always talked to her about Dita's lost pregnancies.

Enjoyment: This was great. I really enjoyed it. It's certainly not a happy piece, but it's surreal, sad, and it sticks with you- sort of leaves a certain feeling inside of you at the end. Which is a good sign.

Good work and congrats again!

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