Saturday, October 9, 2010

I Give It a Thumbs-Down

This semester I've been a fiction reader for my grad school's literary magazine. I've read dozens of stories and given my thoughts (i.e., Yes, No, Maybe, followed by a brief synopsis of why) on whether they're fit for publication.

Sometimes the story just doesn't agree with me.  I'm not gonna go into more detail that what follows, but I was in a snarky mood today and this story made me snarkier.  This is what I wrote in response. 

"No. And if there were a "Hell No" option on the dropdown menu, I would select that. In a word, WTF? The author is too cute for his or her own good. The unorthodox writing style could work if there were an actual story here. Instead, it's just a group of people preparing for a party in which an acquaintance has unexpectedly decided to attend. And in the meantime, the author takes the annoying steps of stopping the story to introduce him or herself to me personally, interrupting the story to bore us with two long and clunky poems, making a ridiculous analogy about a conversation being like Pearl Harbor, and ending the story with random, disconnected snippets of dialogue from the party. Extra points deducted for not double-spacing (hence the demotion from "No" to "Hell No"). Sure, some of the lines in this story are creative. But someone needs to sit this author down and explain that a story is more than cutting and pasting random lines of text together. The sum of its parts has to add up to a cohesive whole. Now that I'm all riled up, I'm gonna go outside and kick someone's ass."

I don't know.  Maybe if I had read it on a different day, I'd have been more inclined to like it.


  1. Phil:

    Is "hell no" worse or better than "flatulent"?

  2. "Hell No" and "Flatulent" are not mutually exclusive. Actually I wouldn't say this story was flatulent. It was frustrating; there were some good lines in it, but they got overshadowed because the author was trying to hard to impress us; it was coy to the point of nausea. But it's just my opinion. Who knows, the other readers may like it.