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5/12/2016 c1 4InkWellWisher
First off, I just have to say that this is wonderful, charming read, in a style we don’t normally get to see in contemporary writing, but something very near and dear to my heart. You’ve done your research, and it really pays off in the invention of pagan deities/figures, character relationships, story structure, and narrative voice. Loved it. I am going try and focus more on things that where not elaborated on as much in other reviews.

Going straight into the narration by The Gray Lord (Death), I’d like to point out the success of the gods who are left unnamed but fulfill deity archetypes, gods of day and night. In fact, it even lends this piece more of an old archetypical feel, making it ripe with metaphors of human myth and ritual. Human name their gods differently from how gods identify themselves and each other. By having “Sister Bright” and “Sister Dark”, the reader can distinguish the narrator’s relationship to them as brethren and separates himself from being human despite the obvious sympathy The Grey Lord has (similar, as someone already pointed out, to the empathy of Death in Discworld). The only complaint I have with this narration is the disappearance of The Gray Lord’s voice towards the middle and the end. I’d perhaps like to see one or two more moments where the voice appears to give us a detail integral to the story, but it still functions perfectly without it.

In addition to this narrative voice, the structure and subject matter greatly resembles 16th century Italian gothic literature, and Gothic literature set in medieval Italy. These stories often featured young beautiful women isolated from the world by possessive men, wooed by disadvantaged young men and ironic yet foreshadowed death and tragedy. The names and character relationships feel very accurate when compared these traditional gothic stories, not sure if this part of your intention, but it really strengthens the narrative to reference this historical literature.

The first paragraph is one of my favorite passages, having not only the success of day into night, but also winter into spring. If we refer to the strong presence of mythic archetype, we have life, death and rebirth, and more specifically, the life cycle of the Horned God of traditional pagan practices in which the god continually dies and is reborn in an endless cycle of fertility and death. “Each grasped the other’s throat. By the hour Sister Dark spread her cloak across the sky, only one still breathed; the other came to me. Sing to spirits of the harvest, the women tore the limbs from the lifeless chest. Later, in spring, when Bright Sister warmed the earth, the people sowed the fields of the valley below with the bones.”
Something I do have to add though is the confusion fin this opening paragraph when compared to dialogue later in the story. From this first passage, it is implied that our hero is the survivor of this great battle. However, when the statue is finally revealed, Don Giuliano remarks “How could this pretty vanesio cleave Baduila’s head from his neck?” And Bernardo replies that Giovan was stabbed as he cut off Baduila’s head, that his life was scarified. Wouldn’t the Gray Lord have taken two souls that significant day? Or is there something I am not getting?

“A year ago I kissed him in a tavern. And now my power gnaws at his tender lungs, steals the strength from his blood and drains the color from his cheeks. He is almost as white as his marble twin; and of the two, the statue appears stronger.” –I love this passage. I love the idea that death brushed him and marked him in a way and further perpetuates a plot, and universe controlled by causality, fate, a common theme in traditional Italian works.

I find it interesting that most of the reviews seem to think that Bernardo is ignorant of Pietro’s illness, a young man who is constantly complaining of the effect of the cold, who bears a distinct sickliness and consumptive cough. I’ve found a few lines that imply Bernardo of a sin greater than ignorance: apathy.
“I’d never bring Simonetta here,” Giuliano leans back to make room for his full belly. “Your stable boy would ravish her.”
“Not Pietro. He is—”
He could be saying anything here, but due to the reference in some following lines, I’d like to think Bernardo is thinking of death—Pietro cannot pursue any women because he is dying, impotent, if you will.
“I need to lock her in the cellars.” He brings the fruit to his lips and bites.
“Don’t do that. The chill will get to her. Then her only suitor shall be the Gray Lord.”
By saying the chill will get to her makes it seem that Bernardo is fully aware of the dangers of the cold and the damp, due to Pietro’s illness and complaints of the cold. And yet Bernardo rejects his model from the warmth of his home, his bed, ensuring the boy suffers a fate he warned Giuliano of with his daughter.
A beautiful, dying model would also serve as a great source of inspiration for martyr, a savior, and Bernardo wants to keep this muse present until the very last moment. This is particularly true when Pietro is modeling, freezing and naked and Bernardo is merely polishing up and smoothing the statue’s jawline. He is filing it, a repetitive, masturbatory movement in which he does not physically engage with the model, further distancing him and his sympathy from Pietro. The importance lies with the content, not subject, as he does not place significance on his model for anything more than what he looks like. He repeatedly denies Pietro warmth and food in exchange for service, but in the next scenes Bernardo enjoys a rather lusty meal with Don Giuliano, continuing on with yet more latent sexual metaphors.

Typo:
“I will say it again. This is a masterpiece. It breaths….”—Breathes

You asked me specifically for authenticity as far as artistic/sculptor details. I’d say you have the patron/sculptor relationship down pretty well, and you’ve already heard my interpretation of this model/artist relationship. Great implication on the “archaic smile” during this passage: “… yet lips full and loose, curving slightly into a smile.” It is there without being implied, because the archaic smile only exists in historical hindsight. It is part of the canon of “contrappasto” which you’ve also included, a vital word to classical sculpture—I’ve actually studied an ancient Roman copy of The Doryphoros, which is one of the earliest forms of contrappasto in Greek sculpture. It instantly tells us what the poise is without having to describe the exact angle of the hips and weight distribution.
The subject of the commission also seems believable. Although it was much more common to have religious themes or Greek copies made, and Giovann the Savior seems like too much a competitor with the Roman Catholic Messiah, I think it works with the “moral parable” style tragedy. There’s also the vantage point of the narration—you don’t have to worry about thinking like a sculptor because you are not writing from the perspective of the artist.
Also, there is an interesting debate over the importance of subject versus content. The artist asserts content while the audience can’t get past the subject, thus resulting in seemingly failed commission, thus resulting in the death of the content while the superficial is admired and preserved. It fulfills the idea that art dies once it is removed from the context for which or where it was made. The statue, removed from it’s original purpose and place among countless other renderings of itself, is completely ineffectual. Peitro, in some form of sympathetic magic (not unlike the presence of an anthropomorphic personification such as Death who is narrating the tale), dies.

To end on a lighter Freudian note, I find it darkly hilarious that Don Giuliano is taking this marble statue of Pietro as Giovann to be in the garden as his daughter’s suitor; a phallic symbol considered ineffectual and impotent, implied by the “limply held sword” and Giuliano’s disappointment in the beardless, weak subject which can barely hold a sword. It is only fitting he’d put something beautiful and yet nonthreatening in the garden, a decidedly female symbol.

All in all, a very enjoyable read, simple and yet filled with a multiplicity of meaning and complexity.
3/27/2016 c1 5Dr. Self Destruct
Scene: I felt the scene where they're looking at the statue could use more description. Considering their conversation is about what the statue looks like and how it'll never fit into the location Don wants *because* of how it looks, I was having a hard time picturing exactly *why* he felt that way other than the mention of a lacking beard. I like this idea that the statue looks alive, but other than that there isn't too much to go on as to what it looks like, other than "young and like the stable boy" but even then we don't really get a good look at the stable boy's appearance. Therefore it makes Don's reaction appear flatter than it could be, I think. Of course, I know you were very close to the word limit and that's probably why this scene and the last couple scenes were rather sparse - but just in case, I thought I'd mention it! Other than that, though, I think you have a really nice balance of detail. Not too much, and not too little. Everything described feels like it has a purpose, and you don't overly describe the characters. And I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the icy storm and how it lashed at the windows.

Technique: I'm guessing this story is narrated by death, right? I really like that perspective, but I feel like death's voice falls away about halfway through the story. Again, I feel like this might have something to do with the word limit because you're not at as much of a liberty to toss in anecdotes and other remarks from death's POV. So if you go back and edit this, I would suggest to add in more of death's voice throughout the second half of the piece since he seems to fall away at the scene where they're talking about the statue. Unless it's intentional that death kind of fades into the background...but I'm not really sure what kind of third-person POV you'd consider that. Third omniscient Third kinda limited? lol. Either way, I think death's voice added another interesting layer and would like to see some more of that.

Ending: A really tragic ending. :( Poor stable boy. I didn't really see it coming until this last scene, so it hit me pretty hard, haha. There's an interesting message behind this story, I think. Like...don't give up too quickly on yourself or else you risk losing everything you've worked so hard for, maybe? Like how Bernardo told his servant to leave and that he was closing up the studio because he couldn't sell his statue and pay off debts. Then the next day, Don decides to buy it anyways right after Bernardo was ready to just give up shop. An interesting twist, to be sure.

Setting: I think you handled the setting itself spectacularly. Probably my favorite thing about this piece. I could hear their Italian accents and imagine the surroundings really well, building off the descriptions you've provided. I think that's really important in any kind of writing, knowing how to provide only 10% of the entire world but convincing the reader the other 90% exists, and then letting them fill in the right holes for themselves. Their dialogue was really convincing, too, and helped add to the overall tone. Just a really submersive experience. Great job!

Congrats again on your WCC win!
3/24/2016 c1 90Timbo Slice
For such a relatively short piece you managed to infuse it with so much atmosphere and lively setting. The story comes across as heavily inspired by Renaissance Italy and the inclusion of names and Italian phrases really helped to establish the mood of the piece. As always your prose flowed smoothly with little to no grammar or spelling errors and your words helped to paint a vivid yet starkly realistic view of the time period. I also liked how you developed a clear dynamic between Giovan and Pietro, with one being the hero and the other a lowly stable boy, as it adds a nice bit of surprise to the somewhat abrupt ending.
3/22/2016 c1 9Sjoorm
Wow. That was a great story, I can easily see why you won the contest this month.

Beginning: You open with a grand view, of ancient battles and great wars over the City of Lilies. This easily reminds me of the history of Rome, and I feel like that's what you're going for, an alternative view of Italy (or at least inspiration from it). I enjoy it a lot, in due a large part to my love and interest of ancient Italy.

Scene: What really stood out for me was your description of the statue. He is a soldier, but he is also a sad soldier, a reluctant one. He has fought because he has to, not for glory or honour, not for some great love of battle, but simply because he has been forced into the situation. It resonates with the true soldier, not the romanticized one that we so often see in today's society. It is very rare that a soldier loves to kill.

Dialogue: It is short, devoid of violet phrasings and it effortlessly captures the essence of a renaissance (or very close to the renaissance era) Italy. You insert a few Italian words to immerse us in your scenes, a Don, or his Valetto, the grand Palazzo's of the aristocratic elite. I really felt like I was there when I started into the dialogue, great job.

Ending: It was very sad. Bernardo has given his stable boy no less a death sentence by sending him into the cold as if he swung a sword at his neck, and it makes it even more depressing that Giuliano conceded to the fact that he truly was the picture of Giovan. But a few more moments and this stable boy might have lived on, but Bernardo was quick to throw him to the wolves with his debts, and I felt an almost crushing sadness at reading this ending. You've done a really good job of creating an immersive environment, and you truly deserved your win. I always like when story or book titles are used somewhere in the story itself, so the last line was a good one to end upon.
3/18/2016 c1 51Electrumquill
Opening: I'm guessing that the Gray Lord is narrating this piece and he certainly makes for a narrator who is different to your previous ones. It is fitting that he would draw our attention to the fact that this is the Winter Solstice. I appreciate the references to his Bright Sister and Dark Sister. You have your own pantheon of interrelated deities, like the ancient Greeks and Ancient Norse! I wonder if anyone ever tried to bargain with the Gray Lord so as to avoid death. Perhaps he would be amenable to someone who listened when he talked about his relatives? Many humans are like that, but the Gray Lord actually has interesting relatives - the outline of your pantheon already makes me want to know more about it! Which of the gods are the desirable ones to follow?

I like the way he alludes to people sowing the valley with bones - being the Grim Reaper of your pantheon, it makes perfect sense that his thoughts would run on morbid lines.

Scene setting: It is already ominous that the Gray Lord should be taking such an interest in Pietro. The end result of his attentions is easy to guess at. I suppose he did pass very close to Pietro when his mother's time came... that he took an interest in his progress after that is both sweet and horrifying at the same time. (I would like to be able to combine sweet and horrifying effectively, but so far can only watch as others do it well). This is evoked still more in the way the Gray Lord describes the effect of his kiss. I think he feels something like affection for Pietro, even though Pietro is mortal and he is a supernatural being. I mean, one could not imagine Screwtape from The Screwtape Letters ever describing any human owith even that hint of sympathy that I feel is conveyed in this passage.

Character/Dialogue: Bernardo immediately comes across as rather high handed, but I suppose one must consider the stress he is under with the financial problems. Poor Pietro certainly suffering under the Gray Lord's interested gaze.

Techniques: I like the touch that the hoods of Cattaneo and his servant don't foil the Gray Lord's vision. Cattaneo's normally shielded from the gaze of the Gray Lord by personifications of vigour and good fortune... you are doing a good job in keeping up the precise implications of the gaze.

I like the description "exquisite nose;" that's how I would describe it if I was using the point of view of a character who loved Pietro. At certain points, the Gray Lord could even come across like a woman who is in love with Pietro if one were to take certain bits such as this out of context. He is the Gray Lord in more ways than one - neither a light nor a dark supernatural being... quite an interesting conundrum all in all.

Mythos: The Gray Lord has built up empathy for humanity in general, I think, from his long contact with them. He can enjoy the sight of men feasting and in the marriage bed even though he is ethereal. Reminds me a bit of the friendly grim reaper in the Discworld who built up sympathy for humanity through contact as well, even though he remained a supernatural being. I could contrast them both with Screwtape and Agent Smith from the Matrix - supernatural beings (basically) whose contempt for humanity never wavered despite long contact (with Agent Smith it just seemed to drive him more beserk with hatred).

More Technique: It's ominous and eerie how the statue appears to breath.
But Giuliano is not easily pleased and wishes to follow in the footsteps of the late Brian Sewell in being a pompous art critic. No saviour should have so sad a smile... really? I like the irony of how Bernardo invokes the Gray Lord who is actually there and listening. And it really is tragic irony how Giuliano changes his mind just hours too late to spare Pietro. My, but Bernardo really does come across as self-absorbed and a terrible taskmaster now. He didn't even notice his servant was sick!

Ending: Again, there is a sort of cuteness in the ending, mingled with the sadness. Pietro's likeness is with one who appreciates it, even if it is part of an extravagant display of overprotectiveness... and I infer that Giuliano is correct that Pietro feasts with the lord of the dead. I think I best liked how you mixed sweetness with horrifying earlier, though.
3/17/2016 c1 6Victoria Best
Hello!

Wow, wow, wow, this was so amazing. I really loved it. This is going on my favourites! I think, what you have accomplished in under 2k words, is staggering. I am seriously impressed! You should absolutely start sending this. I think it would get snapped up!

The worldbuilding in this was really something special. I absolutely love the Dark Sister for night and the Bright Sister for day. That's really unusual, and the way you have gone about 'characterising' night and day as people, like with 'rests her head.' Wow! So beautiful, unique and works so well.

I think it is also a really unusual and intriguing aspect that the narrator was death. This is a really awesome angle, reminded me of The Book Thief. I think it gave the piece a real timeless quality to it. It becomes something more than a story about Pietro and Bernardo, it becomes a story about life and death. Throughout the piece, we get referred back to death. Mentions of the Gray Lord, and the people who have died, and even just 'I kissed him in a tavern,' all give this omnipresence to death, like he is everywhere at once, God-like. I got an almost claustrophobic feel when reading, like he was even watching me, like the way he is watching the characters. Wow! Really, I could go on and on about this. It was amazing.

I got the impression that, at the end, Pietro is immortalised, through the statue, and I absolutely love the line, "making his pale flesh indistinguishable from marble." The whole story comes together in that one line, the comparison with him and the statue. Both the same, at the end. Really powerful and meaningful. I get this whole 'live while you can, because we will all be like statues' vibe, you know? And definitely the idea that we are remembered through the things we leave behind.

The narrative was also wonderful throughout. You handled Italian features expertly, and I was never lost when reading. You also never went overboard with it - always just the right amount to set the scene of this gorgeous, rich setting. I just love the intricate details you weave into your narrative, like, "brows drawn tight, lips full and loose" and "torso caves in, ribs press out" and "skin bristles as it trembles." Such simple lines, but it's these little details that really enhance the piece and make it something magical. Love "on a hitch of found breath" and "hidden in their lengths" also.

Honestly, I don't have any criticism for this, because I loved it all. Lol, I know that's not helpful at all :P But it's true. I mean, when you aren't restricted by the WCC wordcount, (which, when I did my first entry last time, I really struggled with! 2K is not enough at all!) it would be great to see features of this enhanced. I think there could be more clarity that the narrator is death, because I have a feeling that, because of the language, some readers might not clock onto this. And I would like more descriptions and vividness of the setting, rather than just mentions of salas and piazas. Perhaps even more detail about the characters, hinting at both looks and personality, and more detail about the statue. All chances for some really magical writing! :D When you aren't restricted by the wordcount of course!

All the best and keep writing!
3/17/2016 c1 12Deedee Elle
Reviewing for Easy Fix.
From the synopsis I was expecting vampires or some other sort of undead narrator and the kiss to be literal and I was expecting something Twilight-y but yhaving read the whole story I get the feeling the narrrator is Death (although it is still a little ambiguous which I like).
The use of plance names grounds the story well without having to spell out where it is but the poetic sound of descriptinos e.g. Dark Sister, Bright Sister, who I assume are night and day or the Moon and Sun, makes me think a little of Neil Gaiman's Endless (though this might be because I'm thinking of Death as a narrator).
I really like the idea of the narrator being unwatched but a real presence. I also liked the more down to earth dialogue and concerns of the sculptor contrasting with the poetic thoughts of the narrator as it emphasises the idea that what humans concern themselves with is insignificant.
I couldn't find any faults to mention. Well done.
3/15/2016 c1 82Solemn Coyote
This is amazing. I'm not sure what the broader setting is, but it's got this Venice-by-moonlight renaissance vampires-y vibe that feels classic and new at the same time. I'd love to read more set in the same universe, and to know a bit about the unnamed narrator (who seems to have been implied to be Guiliano's daughter? Or an agent of the Gray Lord? Or both?). The naming conventions and the general sense of climate and geography feel just right for what I (as an American who has never been there) know of Italy, as does the patronage and poverty and desperate lushness feel right for the time period.

I'd be curious to know if this is actually a vampire story, which it seems to have been implied to be, and if so how it's going to be differentiated. Vampires in a place plagued by mosquitoes and malaria feel like they would be very different in some key ways from the standard gothic and hollywood fare.

Anyway, long rambling brought to a close: this was amazing and I hope to be able to read more of it.
3/15/2016 c1 10Be My Valentine
A lot of proper nouns in the first paragraph. And since all those proper nouns belong to your world-building, I am intrigued but lost at the same time. I read the first paragraph, but can't tell you what it's about, except bleat out words like, "Fiorenza! Lilles! Bright Sister!" [Yes, I repeated that all without looking. Also...call it deductive reasoning, but I think "Bright Sister" is a constellation?] I looked up if any such constellation exists, and Google is being stingy with me. Yet again, it feeds into your opaque world-building.

Your story is steeped in Italian terminology - almost to the point I want to ask are you Italian yourself? To an untrained eye (I know not much Italian) it looks very authentic. The novelty of it makes me look favourably on your work, and it helps you have excellent grammar. It makes me so happy when my eyes can scroll along at a relatively fast pace, and not to see a grammatical error. Well-done!

Overall, I'm still more curious than satisfied. Pietro. Is the narrator Simonetta? It is unclear. I think (think!) the narrator is a girl. It seems the first section is in first person narrative, and the rest in third. Is that the general style throughout? A mixture? Again, I'm intrigued to see how that will work. If anyone can bamboozle us - it's you! Usually a mixture of narratives is jarring and not well melded. Here, I just wonder...
3/14/2016 c1 9TheBeastlyPrincess
Well developed setting, I felt the marble and olive laurel too. Dramatic and striking.
3/14/2016 c1 2TS Conlon
*Spoilers ahead. Please read the story before reading further. Thanks.*

The question is, are you a fan of Hemingway? I am, and I can see some of his writing coming out in this piece. Parts of it remind me of “Across the River and into the Trees.” It’s easy to draw those parallels—a tragic protagonist facing death in Italy while trying to hold onto life.

And how could you mention “Across the River and into the Trees” without mentioning, and drawing even more parallels to, Thomas Mann’s “Death in Venice”? There we see the protagonist Aschenbach lusting after a young, beautiful boy and contemplating the platonic attraction of beauty. It is never confirmed if the boy, Tadzio, is attracted to Aschenbach, but there are allusions to it throughout—lingering glances and the like. So I wonder if the same can be said for Bernardo and Pietro with the line, “You can’t rest in here. Not with me. Not tonight.”? He even pulls away when Pietro reaches for him.

In “Death in Venice”, the classical Greek figures of Narcissus, Apollo, and Dionycus and his chieftain Silenus appear metaphorically and awaken the writer to his latent sexual fantasies. Like the Greek Gods have followed Aschenbach to Venice, so have the Gods of the Green Isles followed Pietro to Fiorenza. We see the story play out in the eyes of the Gray Lord and even the Queen of the Dawn proffers a mention. I would not be surprised if you took some inspiration from either of the aforementioned stories.

The first parallel I drew was from the opening paragraph, specifically the young versus the old, each with hands around the others throat. Aschenbach lusted after Tadzio. The boy was so young and he tried to make himself appear more youthful with hairdye and rouges. We see the same parallel in Pietro and Bernardo. The same in both stories is the bitter ending, the death of a protagonist. Cantwell refuses his lover, Renata, to accompany him on a duckhunt, and dies from a series of heart attacks. It is unknown what killed Aschenbach—the “harmless disinfectant” used on the fish in the river, the heat that is mentioned several times, or even old age. But in the end, he attempts to follow Tadzio into the sea but falls sideways and is discovered dead. Just as Aschenbach and Cantwell have, Pietro dies in nature from his own diseases and lacking his desires. I don’t know what Pietro’s desire is. Does he want to be treated as more than a stableboy? Does he want to be an apprentice to Bernardo? Are they in a romantic or platonic relationship? It seems weird that Bernardo saw this boy, decided to make him a model of Giovan, but still demands him work the stables. There’s a partnership. It makes me wonder if there’s not more. All the boys would ravage Simonetta, but not Pietro. “He is—” What? This is not bad though. Here, the story becomes my own to perceive.

We come to the narrator. The Gray Lord. Death, himself. He always lingers in your story, in the room but out of sight, omnipresent yet singular. In a strange way, he’s always there, even when he’s not. Except he is not there when he’s away, so he isn’t there. The narrative you paint in his voice suggests as much. He has come for Pietro; to reap what he had planted in a tavern one year ago with, what I believe to be, tuberculosis. He thinks perhaps not unfondly of taking Pietro’s mother and Bernardo’s family. He almost feels there is a relationship, in a perversion of the term, between himself, the living, and the dead. He remembers. He doesn’t think of them as trophies or people he cares about, but perhaps as silly little pets. This is how I see it when the Gray Lord wants to contradict Don Guiliano’s understanding of Giovan. The Gray Lord knows where his capabilities lie, and making these “lesser beings” understand is beyond him. Yet there is a necessity to have them around and being around them.

Then again, maybe I’m wrong. The Lord of the Dead is not a master looking after a hutch of rabbits but pieces on a chessboard. There is no other player. He sets them up and tears them down for his own amusement and imagination. Pietro has succumb to the cold and his own diseases. But he was not a bad person, and it is not for the Grey Lord to judge, only govern. Besides, Pietro is immortal now.
3/13/2016 c1 17whispers of lowlit flames
Hiya!

Beautiful writing. There are a lot of elegant, almost poetic phrases here, which makes the piece read very nicely overall. What hinders that a little is how closely compact the information is: I think you could simplify those first few paragraphs and ease the flow. For example, “peering through the diamonds” is interesting but doesn’t add much to the overall story, so it serves more as a distractor. A very interesting distractor, mind, because if the narrator is not on the same plane as the humans and horses and such, then in which is the diamond to serve as the window, I wonder. A lot of cultural descriptions as well, and I don’t know a lot about Italy (or spain?) to fully appreciate it, but I can definitely appreciate the attention to detail there!

Interesting plot. I applaud anyone who can get a cohesive tale in under 2k and you’ve done it. :D And with quite a bit of world-building within that as well, enough that the significance of certain things: the art, the religious/supernatural elements show themselves. It also has a coherent beginning and end – or a couple of them: Pietro’s tale, the case of the sculpture, and even the story of Simonetta, alone with, perhaps or perhaps not, that marble statute to keep her company. An interesting way of drawing romance into the tale as well. Is the mention of the Queen of the Dawn related to your novel?

What confuses me the most about this piece is the narrator: the identity, and even their purpose because they fade out after the initial scenes. You introduce the first person narrative quite early, but there are few identifiers scattered throughout: “I cannot feel chill nor heat”, and “I cannot eat or drink”…which implies a spirit or, as Nads suggested, Death itself (surprisingly, the kiss/power gnawing doesn’t prove to me it’s death, because some authors do use the more generic spirit like a leech). I wonder if part of that is the word count (you know, when I first read this piece, I thought the word count said about 1k instead of double that :D) I’d like to see the narrator in/around that final scene in particular, or perhaps before it: looking at the body, or how Pietro falls and dies, or something like that.

Overall, I really enjoyed this piece. The parallel of the statue, its model and the being it was supposed to represent came out quite beautifully, though the subtleties meant it took a second read to get some of them. Pietro’s dialogue was sharp and honest, in contrast to the more elegant speech of the sculpturor and the noble, and provided an interesting contrast, both in statue and honour: the disagreement about the sculpture verses Pietro’s more passionate comments about the cold, and even the two times he does so, for different outcomes. Heavy with emotion all the way through, highlighted by Don Giuliano’s words at the end and him identifying the marble statue as the stable boy, and the dead body as the Giovan. A very profound ending, and definite food for thought. :D
3/13/2016 c1 4lookingwest
I gotta say - I haven't read something on FP in awhile that's captured a spot on my "fav" list :) Really enjoyed this piece overall. I will say it's a tad disorientating, but only in the first section, and I'll try to approach why in my review. Also PS. I have a total soft spot for men who are used as art models, lol.

Really beautiful first paragraph. You got my attention right away - I loved the language in it and the history. It hooked me instantly! Have you ever read I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson? This piece reminds me it of it a little because it has a sculptor and a male model, heh. It's a YA Novel and I liked it quite a bit, it's got some issues - but if you're looking for books, I'd recommend it! I think you'd enjoy it a lot. Anyway, back on topic...

While I got that Death is our narrator I was a little confused at first about what was being pictured in the first section - you had me confused about who was in the scene - I thought it was three men at first "The clay men encircle two living men and one male form" - I read that as three people at first, then went back and realized, duh, "male form" is the statue. But maybe you could make it a little clearer in the previous paragraphs that the "clay men" are actually made of clay in a literal sense, and death isn't just looking down at people and thinking of them figuratively (which I think can happen when you've got a style such as this). So maybe just say in the previous paragraph the first time the clay figures are mentioned: "I see clay statues" instead of "figures" and that would've cleared it up a little more. "Figures" made me think more metaphorically/figuratively, for some reason - after all, we might all be "clay figures" to Death/God - and I think I was associating it Biblically, in that way.

As far as "male form" - could you be more explicit? I know, I hate doing that when I'm using a poetic style - I'm always like "but the word /figure/ is what I want, I didn't want to call them /statues/" but I think in this case it might benefit you to be a tad more explicit in the opening paragraphs. It clicked for me but I re-read that first section a few times before I moved on to the next to make sure I had everything straightened out. I thought maybe Bernardo was someone who carved statues for the dead (like for their graves) for a second, too, and thought he was carving one of Pietro (who had already died). I think it's the "I knew him from carving a sculpture for his infant brother's coffin" - maybe follow that line with referencing some of his other great works as a sculpture before mentioning his mother.

Scene-wise, I enjoyed the way that you decided to break this up into smaller scenes. I think it was a great decision and it gave this story a careful pacing with the style. The dialogue was ammmaaazing, and so was your atmosphere. Blew my mind on those two things. The terminology of Italian(?) that you give to bring this all to life was gorgeous. Also - Queen of Dawn reference! I felt like you super authentically knew this world and it was so well rendered in the way you brought it to life through word choice. But it didn't go overboard for me, either. The conversation between Don G and Bernardo when they're eating dinner? Woowowow. Yes. Please. I loved it - this accomplished so much for a WCC!

**SPOILERS**
As far as your ending - wanted to touch on that seeing Nad's review - she might've gotten what I got, but her reading is much more metaphorical. I did get the literal ending. Bernardo sends Pietro away because he thinks that Don G won't pay him for the statue of Giovan (who is modeled after Pietro), and then Pietro (who is dying of a sickness - reference to him coughing blood, the Gray Lord (Death's) "kiss", etc) ends up dying on the road and freezing to death after leaving Bern's service. Very tragic. But Don G takes the statue so he can put it somewhere his 16 year old daughter will see, so in some ways he will live on. But I did get the literal ending - I think it's just that people might get off track with the opening section of Giovan being a hero from the past that Bern is making a statue of - and using Pietro as the model... There's also Nad's metaphorical ending though - I don't think it reads so much as Pietro being a "savior" like Giovan was of Lilies, as just a tragic figure. But - again, loved it!

Best of luck this month with the WCC! Really loved this piece, had me entrapped from the first line!
3/13/2016 c1 14Shampoo Suicide
I thought it was very interesting that this tale was told through the eyes of Death, or at least I assumed that was what was going on? The clues like the narrator knowing Pietro and the sculptor through various familial deaths and not being able to feel/eat that led me to think that, so if I am not to thick then excellent job of making that clear even to me XD. Anyway I liked that technique a lot because it provided some distance from the story/characters but also provided intimate characterizing details that a supernatural figure like Death might have. And I really loved the description of how Death worked in Pietro, how it was described as a kiss that stole his strength from his blood.

Speaking of descriptions there was a lot of excellent work on that end in this piece, as always with your writing. In addition to the description of death's kiss I really loved the vivid detail you put into describing the scenery and how clearly I could envision each of the characters and their actions. I liked the tie in to the prompt with the ice crystals glinting on Pietro's skin at the end a lot, it's an excellent direction to take it.

The opening, while full of the lush description and imagery I love in your work, didn't propel me into the story as fast as I'd have liked. In some ways it's more effective that way, just laying out the scene rather than diving right in because we're working with a peeping narrator, sort of, and that is an easy way to transition into story from there. But as far as grabbing me immediately, it didn't quite work for me.

Though I enjoyed the writing in the piece quite a bit, I'm not sure I entirely understood the ending necessarily. As far as I can tell, Pietro is really the Savior that was supposed to be carved into the marble after all, but I'm not sure, if I'm understanding that right, where that reveal really comes from. I read it three times to make sure I hadn't missed anything, and I'm left mostly feeling a little bit like I MUST not be catching something and I'm stupid haha. But the language and details make this an enjoyable read all the same. I just wish I could figure out what was happening at the end there! Glad to be reading your stuff again! :D

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