In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Four Stars.”
I started off wanting to like this story, but it slowly found it ways into the cliches that bog down most great stories. The author not being able to define what the conflict was and how to overcome it. Everyone likes a good comeback story, a tale of redemption; but it seems like we hit a point where the story had no true ending. Could it be that this was a much longer work and might be continued in a second book. Or maybe the author will keep updating through a website or newsletter so as to not cheat the public of their hard earned dollars.
The classic man vs. man dynamic is what underwhelms the narrative. At times when the subject should be looking to create conflict, he instead internalizes the entire process. That gets us to more of a man vs. himself scenario. Those are always the hardest to adequately get across to the audience. How to capture the raw nature of pain, happiness, sorrow without pandering, there briefly touched upon. Maybe if the author trusted himself enough to go that one step further, it would allow his creation to touch people rather than just describe actions. An example:
“I awoke today only to find myself wanting something I couldn’t have. Not just piece of mind, but peace within my mind.”
What is it he wants. There are the times when we touch upon medical concerns, or could it be the time he longed for the touch of a lost love? See the author just hasn’t gotten the ability to get a grasp on the narrative, maybe there are too many things to capture and having them all appear simultaneously has left him crippled with the weight of his thoughts.
The younger years are captured beautifully. Learning to be a man, the journey of school and the dedication he shows for trying to make his own mark on the world are common themes. Notions that the audience can relate to. I particularly enjoyed the sections talking about how the subject talked about his feelings, that’s where the true story begins. It may be a variation on the theme of man vs. himself, but the lessons learned are universal in nature. We’ve all been there.
That feeling of falling in love, the uncertainty of leaving the nest for the first time to attend college, and deciding to move to the other side of the country to learn about ourselves; we’ve all been in those shoes. Everyone knows how ti feels to put a bunch of things in the car and just drive to a new destination. That cold, clammy feeling your hand gets the first time you reach out to another person. Even knowing they are feeling some of the same emotions- universal themes.
I wish the author would allow himself to truly express how he felt after losing his daughter. Not the basics that everyone can brush up upon, but the visceral nature of what triggered him to cry that night just because he thought he heard something. Go deeper into that night where he sat with the phone clutched in his hand trying to get reach out when he was scared by his medical information, only to put it down and walk away. Was it him or the people around him? Did he not know what to say?
The one thing that clearly is missing is a well defined antagonist. The audience can only handle obvious choices being ignored so many times. There are fingers to be pointed, but mainly they remain firmly pointed within. IT may be an extension on the continuous theme of man vs. himself, but the reader wants to cheer for him, wants to see a better outcome than the one the author obviously sees for himself.
There are so many things that are bright about this story. The section alone about graduate school would be worth perusing even for the casual reader. I also enjoyed learning about the lessons discovered while,he watched his nephew grow. There is also a portion of a chapter about his ex’s niece who is used to watch after camp during the summer. Stories that let you know somewhere beneath all of this pain, there is good.
Would I run out and buy this, I’m not sure. But I would likely go to the library and check it out.