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  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Feb 2014
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    A couple of pages

    Hi Everyone,

    I am currently battling my way through query hell and some one in that forum suggested that I post the first couple of pages of my novel here for people to review. To head of the slew of grammar corrections that are coming my way I will say that I have a friend of mine ( a newspaper editor) reading and correcting for me. I haven't gotten it back yet so this is the raw version. Also a quick heads up that my background is mainly in poetry so keep that in mind. Thanks in advance.

    Grand Junction, Colorado

    The bitch was ugly. No two ways about it. Around a wide mouth with a protruding lower chin was a pushed up face like a smashed beer can. Jowly. One eye was swollen shut with a tear of pussy yellow sorrow holding fast on the outer corner. The other eye clear and gold. Confusingly long knobby legs welded to a round short torso. She was sitting spread eagle against the green dumpster in the late morning heat. Smiling and panting. Her eight exaggerated nipples ropy and flat against her exposed brindled belly. Yep she was one ugly bitch. I watched her for a while then headed through the glass door of the Exxon gas station.

    "You know anything about the dog out by the dumpster?" I asked the girl at the register as I headed toward the soda fountain.

    She shrugged her shoulder at me and went back to stocking cigarettes behind the counter. I selected a 64 ounce mega cup and filled it to the brim with water before grabbing a bag of smoked beef jerky. At the counter as I paid $5.10 for my goods I noticed that her black dye job was showing a good inch of dirty blond and that the edges of her Cleopatra eyeliner was smudged but, the hand that dropped ninety cents into my palm was perfectly manicured without so much as a chip in the shining plum nail polish. My own nails were rimmed dark with dirt.

    Outside I approached the bitch slowly. Her tongue rolled around itself gently like a speckled and glistening squid; a fluid motion of thirst and sweat. I didn't seem to worry her as I spoke in low tones and knelt down along side the dumpster. She lapped up the offered water from the cup, making waves that rode over the lip and onto my hand. A length of frayed rope was twisted around her bullish neck, but no tags. Mixed in with the brindle of her hide where raw pink licks of skin. It looked to me as if she had fallen from the bed of a truck. I tilted the cup so that she could continue to drink and when she was finished I offered her a bit of jerky. The bitch took the bit of dry twisted meat in a polite, almost dainty fashion. She looked like a tired old prostitute with her little pinky held up from her cocktail. While she worked the bit of beef over I reached my fingers between her ears and scratched at the soft patch of down there. Her tail thumped against the dumpster making a big hollow sound.

    No one was coming back for her. I untied the bandana that I was wearing, the one that Humble found for me after the snow in Leadville had finally thawed to release a season's worth of potato chip bags and Bud Light cans. He had noticed the edge of it flapping as if it were the loosened wing of a bird half frozen to the sidewalk and had dropped my hand to lean down pulling it free. How clearly I remember clapping my gloved hands together when we discovered that it was a bandana printed with Our Lady Guadeloupe in all her haloed, meek, tilted head glory. Later after washing the winter out of it's linen and drying it on our indoor clothes line Humble carefully folded it into a triangle and tied it over my hair. Then he kissed each of my knuckles. Laughing.

    I fixed the bandana around the meaty neck of the smiling bitch then ran a hand over my greasy walnut mane. I was on a pilgrimage of sorts, driving myself into the west under a heavy gray and orange pack of substance, hiking boots hot on my feet, and the breath of Humble sharp in my lungs as a broken and splintered rib. Who better to watch over me as I crawled on my knees toward a uncertain forgiveness then the Mother of us all.

    Slipping another strip of tough beef from the package I stood up and offered it to Our Lady Guadalupe, "Come along your Exaltedness. We'll see if we can't thumb our way to Utah."

    Her Grace rose to her feet and shook off a clinging stiffness in her joints as I shouldered my pack. Together we walked toward Interstate 70 with the Bookcliffs dusty in the horizon under an unclouded sky.

    ****

    Dead Horse Point, Canyonlands Utah

    I laid down. My back in a bed of red sand fine as talcum powder and over me a tattered blanket of purple shade cast by a gnarled arthritic fist of a tree. Dusty cobalt berries clustered on her branches, fruitful old woman. Our Lady of Mercies stood, or more accurately sat, over me watching ravens. Her gold eyelashes flashing with bits of sunlight. I squinted my eyes until the huge block of her head blurred into a dark shape... until it could have been anyone leaning over me. Until it was Humble.

    My head in his lap. The two of us sitting beneath the towering sunflowers of his mother's garden as they dipped just slightly in a breeze that could not be felt down near the well composted earth. My first visit to his parent's homestead just outside of Taos in early September. Closer to the house the bright snip of Georgia's gardening scissors severing herbs. Inside the sprawling adobe Humble's father was brewing coffee and making sticky buns that would cause me to bring sweetened fingertips to my mouth all day. A large Siamese dominated the bottom step to the guest tree house where Humble and I were spending uninterrupted nights. Built around a solitary cottonwood it was straight out of Sunset magazine with huge ponderous windows, honey colored wood floors, and a hand built bed covered in white linens, soft and luminous. In the tender autumn light Humble was tracing my cheekbones with his fingertips. We talked about nothing, the hum of our voices small and lazy. The words totally lost to me almost as soon as they were spoken. His hands found their way into my hair and I shut my eyes to the sky. I could hear the buzz of paper winged bees busy in the lavender as Humble leaned down and pressed his lips to mine. We kissed slowly upside down with his chin murmuring against my nose. When he began to pull away I gently took his upper lip between my teeth and held it until he leaned back into my mouth.

    A cool drip into my collarbone and I opened my eyes. Another bead of saliva descended from Her Holiness's extended tongue and broke against the hot skin of my throat. I sat up and reached to rub it away, but the desert heat had already taken possession of that glimmer of holy water. I took my upper lip between my fingers and squeezed. Below the floating ravens the shadows of darkening canyons dipped and rolled into each other and I watched until every wayward detail was reduced in the night.

    ****

    Upper Calf Creek Falls Utah

    We entered the canyon of Upper Calf Creek Falls from the rim above. Below us the land was pink and shaped like two cupped hands pouring a palmful of water through a spout of pressed fingers. The Queen of Prophets picked her way down the slick rock avoiding the thorns of prickly pear whose heads were adorned with open red petaled prayers. Her long breasts swaying heavily. I followed her toward the smell of water. Instead of going down the lower trail to the hanging gardens and green pool of the waterfall's landing we went up. Here just before it's descent Calf Creek was only a shimmer of water about an inch deep over the stone. A little further back circled by shaggy cottonwoods the creek had been captured in deep pools filled to their brims. A trickle of water escaped over their lower lips in a green hairy tongue of algae.

    It was afternoon and hot. Guadeloupe slid into a shaded oasis and began to swim in slow circles. I put my backpack down under a cottonwood and unpacked all my extra clothes and a small bottle of Dr. Bronner's soap. Then I stripped down until there was nothing, but a skin of dried salt between me and the sky. The water was tepid. I turned over to float on my back with my eyes shut, tiny beads of water clinging to my face. To my right Our Lady scrambled out of the pool. Her dark nails scratched and clicked on the soft stone as she gained ground. I washed my hair and then each article of clothing. Paying special attention to my four pairs of socks. The sun was dipping toward the west and all around was the honey amber of twilight. My clothes I laid out to catch the last of the sunlight even though they were already almost dry to the touch. Then I worked the tangles from my hair until it hung smooth and dark against my back.

    I thought about taking out my journal to write with the fading light, but there was nothing to say. I felt small and raw, being naked in that expanse of pale rock that unfurled in waves all around me. Strangely though I did not feel diminished. Her Holiness roused herself as I rummaged through my pack. Hands bringing forth a yellow apple, one round of goat cheese, beef jerky, and four hard boiled eggs all purchased from the farming town of Boulder just to the east. The goat cheese was smooth and I spread it over a slice of apple with my index finger. The moon began its ascent with a cool white shrug over the rim of the canyon. In the bright lunar glow I slipped a peeled egg to The Mystic Rose who illustriously swallowed the thing whole as if it were a pearl.



  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    For a raw version (and there are flaws), this exhibits some damn fine writing.

    I can't critique it now, but I'll work my way back here in the next day or so. (To get more exposure, you might consider re-posting this under the Writing Critique forum. I don't know if the moderator can move it.)

    To say that you've got talent is an understatement. Thanks for sharing.

  3. #3
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Yeah, I didn't see this piece way down here, lol.

    I like your tone, your verbs, and the pictures you paint with words. However, I think it's adjective laden and loaded with unnecessary detail. The overwriting kind of clogs the works. Sometimes, you seem so concerned with the words and their sound that you disregard their affect on meaning. You also weaken your verbs with past perfect ("had") and participles ("ing" verbs). You could stand to prune "that" from your writing. Take this paragraph for example:

    No one was coming back for her. I untied the bandana that I was wearing, the one that Humble found for me after the snow in Leadville had finally thawed to release a season's worth of potato chip bags and Bud Light cans. He had noticed the edge of it flapping as if it were the loosened wing of a bird half frozen to the sidewalk and had dropped my hand to lean down pulling it free. How clearly I remember clapping my gloved hands together when we discovered that it was a bandana printed with Our Lady Guadeloupe in all her haloed, meek, tilted head glory. Later after washing the winter out of it's linen and drying it on our indoor clothes line Humble carefully folded it into a triangle and tied it over my hair. Then he kissed each of my knuckles. Laughing.

    No one was coming back for her. I untied the linen bandana I wore, the one Humble found after the snow in Leadville finally thawed to release a season's worth of potato chip bags and Bud Light cans. He noticed the edge of it flapping, half frozen to the sidewalk, and let go of my hand to pull it free. I clapped when we discovered Our Lady Guadeloupe in all her haloed glory printed on it. After I washed the winter out of it and let it dry, Humble carefully folded it into a triangle, tied it over my hair, and laughed as he kissed each of my knuckles.

    You need to move the story along. To me, this was very heavy to read, weighted with too much "poetry" and unnecessary detail. Do you really need to compare that bandana to a dead bird? Nope. Kinda gross actually, and Humble would've avoided the bandana if the comparison were valid. Do you really need to expound on Our Lady Guadeloupe? Nope. Do you really need to say where you dried the bandana? Nope.

    So I vote you read your prose with a ruthless eye. Leave enough poetry for enjoyment, but don't let it bog down the story. Cut those adjectives and unnecessary details. Use simple past tense. I removed 25% of your words with no loss of meaning. You ought to take that as a sign to prune vigorously...but try to keep your voice intact. Turn a good phrase for a good purpose and where it's appropriate, not just because you can or because you like it.
    Last edited by John Oberon; 07-23-2014 at 06:08 AM.

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