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Frank White
15th February 10, 03:47 AM
My mother was writing her life story down before she got Parkinsons and was unable to continue. It was very entertaining, but there wasn't much there. Some of the stories I remember from my Dad, so I figured maybe I could add those somehow, to whatever it might be. I gave up on it pretty quick. However, I was encouraged to start again, and decided I would start from my life and go from there, and see what I could piece together.
After seeing Jvim's stories here, I was hoping to get some feedback from youse guys. Besides, it kind of fits into the White Trash Month theme. Any honest criticism would be greatly appreciated, and if it's totally unreadable, let me know. Here's part of the first chapter.

I don’t remember my mother at all in the first five years of my life, when I still lived with my father. My earliest memories of her actually come from a dream I had where she was walking me down Shattuck avenue and I fell into a hole in the sidewalk. Donald Duck dragged me into the hole, and we played checkers in the dark under a dirty yellow light. Even in the dream I can barely make out my mother, but Donald Duck was furious, vivid in my mind to this day.

My dad’s name was Whale. That wasn’t his real name of course, but that’s what everyone called him. He was a big fat man with a long beard, and he always wore blue overalls. He never wore underwear, this I know because when a man of his size wears overalls, you can tell he isn’t wearing underwear. We lived in the basement of a house in Oakland across the street from a motorcycle shop called The Grease Pit. The sign had a painting on the front of a large biker on a chopper with the forks so long they extended off the sign itself. The man on the bike looked like my dad, so I assumed the shop was his. He seemed to be an important man in the neighborhood anyhow, though this was actually because he was a drug dealer

I remember running around that neighborhood with no supervision at all. I must have been three or four. I would go to the bike shop and put on a helmet as soon as I got there and go downstairs to where they worked on the bikes to see my dad. I loved how the place smelled, like gasoline. I still love that smell. There was a pet store upstairs from the chopper shop, and a kid who worked there would drop baby turtles from the window to the sidewalk below. There was a black guy with an English accent who was our neighbor, he even had a Sherlock Holmes hat he would wear. Sometimes my dad and I would go to the hot dog place, Oscar’s, up the block, I would always play Sweet Georgia Brown on the juke box. There was a hotel nearby with a pay phone, and the old men yell at me to get my dad if the phone rang for him. He would come running, his size didn’t seem to slow him down. The phone was always ringing for him.

People were always in and out of our house, and my dad was never by himself. He was always surrounded by friends, and people were constantly coming in and out. He never lived in a house by himself, and he almost always had people in his room. Even if I was asleep on the floor or in his bed, (I can’t remember where my own bed was), there were people stepping over me, or using drugs in front of me. I would watch as they cooked up drugs in a spoon and shoot it in their arm. I remember the candles, and how the powder would bubble. The men would show no pain when they shot up, and I would laugh when the women went ‘ouch’. I would make sure I did not say ouch when I grew up.

There were always guns in a drawer by my dads bed, lots of guns. There were rifles on the walls, and knives everywhere. . I would ask my dad if I could play with them and he would empty the bullets from them and lay them on the bed. He explained how they worked, how to hold them and aim, and I would run around the house aiming and clicking away. I preferred the revolvers, because they were “more reliable”. I aimed one at this lady named Chicken Little once and she screamed because she thought it was loaded. (her name was Chicken Little because she was so high once she thought the sky was falling)That made me laugh, but since I wasn’t supposed to aim guns at people, I usually just aimed them at the girls posed on choppers that adorned the walls of our house. My dad often carried a gun with him when he went out, and always had a knife strapped to his calf. Sometimes he would hand them out to his pals and they would go off in a hurry somewhere. I wanted to go with them.

The bathroom is where he made speed. He tried to explain how it all worked to me once, but I was only maybe four. He was always trying to explain how things worked. He would go into great detail an the mechanical workings of things and this would go over my head. But when he talked about how to go about dealing with cops and customers it sunk in.

Whenever I got in a car to go with my dad somewhere he would always say “Watch out for the fuzz”. I would always keep my eye out for some green fuzzy monster or blob of some sort to come around the corner after us, which was kind of scary, until I eventually figured out The Fuzz was the police. I learned at a very young age that the police were not our friends, and in fact were out to get us. As a kid, it bothered me that the cops on TV were always considered the good guys. Could that mean we, my father and I, were the bad guys? I didn’t want to be the bad guy. I asked my dad, Are we the Good Guys or the Bad Guys? He paused and sighed, and explained, We’re Outlaws. We think we’re The Good Guys, and the cops think they’re The Good Guys. He said something else after that to make light of the conversation, but I don’t remember. I just knew I was an Outlaw, just like my Dad. I looked at him and then looked away. Deliberately forward, with resolve. It was black outside.

One night, we were pulled over by The Fuzz. I don’t remember why, I was five. I knew my father didn’t have a drivers license, ever. Never got one. He figured if he was pulled over, the police would know who he was anyway, and not having a license would be the least of his problems. He was right, and we were taken downtown. My dad was handcuffed to an old wooden chair and asked if it was OK if I sat on his lap. An officer said it was. I sat with him and saw a bright light behind the trees outside, not knowing what it was. What’s that? I asked, and he said, The Sun. I fell asleep. When I woke up, my Dad was gone.

The title of the thread has nothing to do with the story btw.

SFGOON
15th February 10, 04:36 AM
Now, post the rest of the first chapter. That was good. Really, really good.

I'd request that when alluding to things such as watching people inject speed or your father's arrest through the eyes of a child, you recall a specific event and describe it as grotesquely as possible, Chuck Pahalinuk style. That would embiggen the emotional impact.

But wow. Damn. Nice hook.

Lebell
15th February 10, 07:12 AM
stop imitating updyke.

jubei33
15th February 10, 09:42 AM
don't listen to this ^^^ guy he's dutch or something..

Kein Haar
15th February 10, 09:54 AM
Now wait a damn second.

This isn't considered artistic unless you repeat a particular catch phrase over and over and over.

AMIRITE??

KO'd N DOA
15th February 10, 10:19 AM
I could smell your story, and see the grim marks on your fonts. Great work.

Lebell
15th February 10, 01:53 PM
no, its unoriginal damnit.
if you have to make a point make the point, i don't need the image of a big bearded dude who's nickname is whale to trigger my fantasy, im not retarded.
thats the kinda crap amateurs fall for, they describe everything to death.

Commodore Pipes
15th February 10, 02:40 PM
I liked it.

Lebell
15th February 10, 02:45 PM
there's nothing wrng with Frank's ability to write, i just dont like the style he chose.
in dutch we call it the 'depicting' style.

so instead of: ' he noticed the roses on the table that morning' this goes like: ' the peddles of the roses had an extra intense colour in the early morning sunlight, as if...yadda yadda yadda'
depicting.

you dont need to take the reader by the hand to paint the picture.
writing is like painting but with words.
if yur frame is good, the story then tyou dont need all the fancy crap.

Spade: The Real Snake
15th February 10, 03:06 PM
Frank White > Lebell

jvjim
15th February 10, 03:29 PM
I really enjoyed that. Your style is good, you're really honest throughout what little you posted up. Your father's description of being an "outlaw" fucking nailed it. Awesome. I'm trying to see what Lebell is talking about, maybe it's just a stylistic difference between Dutch and English but I don't see any over-description. But new rule, we need to start posting happy stuff once in a while! I'm more guilty of it than anybody.

Spade: The Real Snake
15th February 10, 03:32 PM
You don't see it because Lebell is a Dutchtard.

Commodore Pipes
15th February 10, 03:33 PM
There has to be a better place to post these than CTC. Those twinkies are making me hungry.

jvjim
15th February 10, 03:36 PM
*cough* article subforum *cough*

Frank White
15th February 10, 04:38 PM
Now, post the rest of the first chapter. That was good. Really, really good.

I'd request that when alluding to things such as watching people inject speed or your father's arrest through the eyes of a child, you recall a specific event and describe it as grotesquely as possible, Chuck Pahalinuk style. That would embiggen the emotional impact.

But wow. Damn. Nice hook.

Thanks. The thing is, I don't think of those things as grotesque. The flames and bubbles were pretty to me. But I'll keep this in mind and focus on certain things.

The main reason I started this was because of things we talked about in PMs, Goon. I've gone over Jung and the DSM, though they're hard to understand. I figured this might help also.


quit imitating updyke
don't know who that is, but I'm looking him up. I think that as I remeber things in later years, I'll focus more on shit that happens as it happens. Right now my goal is to make it easy to read. Appreciate it though, and I'll keep it in mind.

The person I'm imitating is my mother, I'll post one of her stories up later so yall can see where I'm coming from.

Ajamil
15th February 10, 05:36 PM
The part that really sticks with me - really sells the child's perspective - was the sentence, "I would make sure I did not say ouch when I grew up."

Lebell
15th February 10, 08:13 PM
I'm trying to see what Lebell is talking about, maybe it's just a stylistic difference between Dutch and English but I don't see any over-description.

again: it's a good write up, no question there.
i just don't like the style, it comes across too amateuristic, nothing to do with language.
a good writer can hit the nail in a single blow without drowning his message in details that DO NOT matter.
Some details do matter ofcourse.

It all depends where ya wanna go with the story, what mood you wanna set.
If you wanna make it into some sorta ego document where the storyteller shares his childhood with you as if you're close friends: sure describe the father, mother the house, the family dg, what not.
If you want to put the childhood in a context that will explain/ work twards a point in the story then why add details?
Itr's slows the tempo down and details arent relevant.

I hope im more clear now.

Frank: John Updyke, he done stuff like Run rabbit and rabbit redux, etc.

Lebell
15th February 10, 08:20 PM
oh and i missed another style flaw: you change perspective in the storytelling: at one point the comment is from a 5 year old: you (tyhe storyteller) is surprised and does not fully understand and laughs when women went ouch, but later on in the storytelling you say your dad used the bathtub to make speed.

so you either completely tell it as a kid or make clear you're looking back at that time as an adult explaining to the reader how you perceived it as a kid.


im serious, read it back, im not being a dick or a troll here.

Spade: The Real Snake
15th February 10, 08:37 PM
oh and i missed another style flaw: you change perspective in the storytelling: at one point the comment is from a 5 year old: you (tyhe storyteller) is surprised and does not fully understand and laughs when women went ouch, but later on in the storytelling you say your dad used the bathtub to make speed.

so you either completely tell it as a kid or make clear you're looking back at that time as an adult explaining to the reader how you perceived it as a kid.


im serious, read it back, im not being a dick or a troll here.

His change of perspective isn't a problem because the perspective is being told by the same person, at different transitions in his life and he actually does it quite well.

He isn't changing perspectives of the different PERSON, going from first to third, because it is the same person. It is the same person viewing it shifting from adult to child, which isn't uncommon in mental transitions. Think about a story from your own childhood that you are relaying to a friend. You will naturally shift from first to third, relaying your current take viewing yourself from outside.

Ajamil
15th February 10, 09:34 PM
Plenty of "good" authors drown you in detail - they seem to take "don't tell, show" fanatically. Charles Dickens did this, and Robert Jordan and Tolkein. It can work or it can flop, it also depends on what you like to read. Do you like any of those authors, Lebell?

I liked the extreme detail, but keep it limited to a single item, event - it draws the focus. Good effect when dealing with memories since they don't work like a camera (recording everything), but cements images/sounds/smells/etc. while fading most of the peripheral details.

I did feel like the narrative skipped around a bit. When reading it again, I would say the piece isn't going anywhere (and probably wasn't meant to). There's no connections between the memories, no transitions.

Frank White
16th February 10, 02:00 AM
I see your point Lebell. Maybe detail is good here or there, but it doesn't need to be forced. My main goal right now is making it an easy read, but I'm not even sure I know where I'm going with it. It may be just filed for reference for a different project, or disgarded altogether.
I would think most books of this type would have to be either well written, by someone famous, or very tragic. No one gives a fuck if some broad gets fingered by her uncle and becomes the manager at starbucks. But wether or not I'm going to continue with this, these criticisms are appreciated.

Ajamil
16th February 10, 04:52 AM
Read the book Grandma Got Laid - might be too cynical for your voice, but it is a nice stylistic read, and it's got granny sex with smelly Italians, heroin-junkie Nords, and anal-lovin Cuban landlords.

Lebell
16th February 10, 05:29 AM
I see your point Lebell. Maybe detail is good here or there, but it doesn't need to be forced. My main goal right now is making it an easy read, but I'm not even sure I know where I'm going with it. It may be just filed for reference for a different project, or disgarded altogether.
I would think most books of this type would have to be either well written, by someone famous, or very tragic. No one gives a fuck if some broad gets fingered by her uncle and becomes the manager at starbucks. But wether or not I'm going to continue with this, these criticisms are appreciated.

It desnt matter at this point, as long as you are aware of these things.
If you want to use the material in a novel or something re-edit it a bit and you're fine.

What i used to do is the following excercise: you make a really short story, and you write it in different perspectives and styles.
first person, narrator, with details, or in a sober style.
That way you sharpen your skills.

Just a concept/short story of something you want to convey, half a page long in different styles.

Lebell
16th February 10, 05:39 AM
His change of perspective isn't a problem because the perspective is being told by the same person, at different transitions in his life and he actually does it quite well.

He isn't changing perspectives of the different PERSON, going from first to third, because it is the same person. It is the same person viewing it shifting from adult to child, which isn't uncommon in mental transitions. Think about a story from your own childhood that you are relaying to a friend. You will naturally shift from first to third, relaying your current take viewing yourself from outside.

I see your point but it doesnt fly when it comes to writing.
The child is a different person then the adult.
Read it again, don't you notice the change?
At first he notices like a child the women went ouch and etc.
Later on he speaks of his dad making speed in the bathtub.
That's not 'flowing' consistent, it's easily solved by using something like ' later on i realised it was speed my dad was making in the bathtub..'
or something to that degree, then it makes sense again.


In general, the books ive read are all from dutch authors (i've read some 'great americans' like updyke and hemingway and that dude with all the drugs and hookers who recently died) i always prefer the more straight down to the point authors who leave out tiny details and focus more on the point they want to make.
You'd be surprised how many authors here are translated into english, some of my favorites:

Arnon Grunberg- jewish dutch dude who nowadays lives and writes in NYC, most hilarious phrase in his book: 'I remember how proud my mother was of her beauty, she used to brag:' i was the most beautiful girl in auschwitz, all the ss men were in love with me..'

Jan Wolkers- very unique natural style, i think Frank would like his writing cs he likes details and for some reason they do make sense, his mst famous book is 'short american'.

Other major authors are Harry Mulisch, Gerard Reve, Hermans.
Most famous dude in the usa was Jan Cremer, but he's a horrible author in my book.

If you can find a copy im curious how it reads as dutch is hard to translate into english.

Spade: The Real Snake
16th February 10, 08:28 AM
I dunno man, I like the style.
It isn't forced or contrived.
It isn't erudite.
It's natural for Frank.
It "sounds" like he and I are kicking back and he's just telling stories and we are just laughing our balls off.

Commodore Pipes
16th February 10, 09:28 AM
I think it's hard to judge the minute particulars of his style based of such a short sample. If the whole book was written at this level of detail, yeah, it might be much. But hooking 'em early and building an atmosphere that informs the rest of the prose is an asset; it allows the rest of the book or the story or chapter to streamline compared to an atmosphere-heavy intro, which makes for a faster and more involving read.

WarPhalange
16th February 10, 10:29 AM
My mother was writing her life story down before she got Parkinsons and was unable to continue. It was very entertaining,

You're an asshole.

Zendetta
16th February 10, 07:31 PM
I preferred the revolvers, because they were “more reliable”

*wipes tear*

jnp
16th February 10, 10:24 PM
The descriptions are great. That's the issue, that's mostly all there is, descriptions.

There's nothing wrong with setting a mood using a series of descriptions. Many great authors use this technique to good effect. However, you don't really wrap them all up into a single binding narrative.

Short stories that use memory based descriptions to create a background should have a funnel structure. As the narrative progresses, so does the focus of the story until at the end you have a single thread supported by the previous descriptions. What starts out as a series of memories should conclude around a central narrative point, in other words, the focus of the narrative. Otherwise you end up with mere rambling.

Most commonly, this is done by first choosing the final destination of the narrative, the specific experience that is the focus of the story, and building up descriptive details that support it. The trick is, when you're composing it in your head, the story comes first and the details follow, but when you write the final draft you list the details first.

You did this to a limited extent by concluding with the vignette about your dad getting arrested, but there was very little to connect the previous descriptions to the arrest.

I suspect a bit of transitional phrasing such as, "All this led up to the time. . ." or something along those lines. You need a more cohesive central thread weaving through your descriptions to tie it all together.

I hope this makes some sense. Let me know if it doesn't.

Steve
16th February 10, 10:32 PM
I thought it was great. As SFGOON said, it sounded like the hook for the first chapter (or just a hook for any chapter) of a larger story.

jnp
16th February 10, 11:02 PM
I wouldn't put that much effort into my critique if I didn't think Frank had talent. He's worth it.

His OP is good now. I think it could be fantastic with a little more polish.

resolve
16th February 10, 11:49 PM
a little more polish.


http://euro2008girls.com/pics/polish-girl-04.jpg

I agree!

Steve
16th February 10, 11:53 PM
I wouldn't put that much effort into my critique if I didn't think Frank had talent. He's worth it.

His OP is good now. I think it could be fantastic with a little more polish.

Of course, mate. I have been sadly lacking in my reading lately due to excessive amounts of video games and Babylon 5 episodes.

I really enjoy that Sociocide is being used as a sounding board for this type of stuff. As Phrost has mentioned, once the software gets updated we'll have many more options to put posts of this nature (and their critiques) in their proper place, outside of CTC.

Frank White
17th February 10, 02:00 AM
going with this. I think I might leave some of my own stuff out of here and focus on the relationship with my dad. here's part of the next chapter. Like I said, I'm not sure where I'm Originally, I was going to write some of my stories to supplement my parents escapades. I'll post some of that also.


We moved into a house behind another house in downtown Berkeley, above a garage. The people in front were my moms new Christian friends. Her new friends were a lot nicer than my dads friends, but I didn’t like them anyway. Maybe they were too nice, or fake nice. My older sister moved in with us later on also, from the foster home. I didn’t like her either. Maybe I was jealous of her. The kids in the neighborhood all came over to meet us, and the first thing I did was yell at them. Get off my property you niggers! I yelled, and my mother yelled at me. She invited them in, and offered them cookies. I was embarrassed, and this made me mad. My younger sister made friends with them while I sulked. The kids in the neighborhood didn’t like me right from the start. They gave me dirty looks as they ate my cookies. I learned quickly that white kids don’t call black kids nigger, unless you mean to fight. Up until then, it was just a word my dad used, not out of hate, but that’s just the way he talked. One of his best friends he called Nigger George, who I called Uncle George. And of course, black people call each other that, although with no enunciation of the R at the end. Either way, it was not my word to use, with or without the R.

The new neighborhood consisted of mostly black kids. This was nothing new to me, but they were mostly girls, and mean. My sisters got along well enough, and my younger sister became best friends with the effeminate kid across the street. I don’t think he was actually gay, just smart enough to be on the winning team. I spent a good deal of my time getting chased by the girls. Black girls can run as well as fight. And even if I did manage to get over on one by throwing a rock and jumping a fence or something, I’d get in trouble by my mom. They never got in trouble, their parents didn’t like me either. Once the televising mini-series Roots came on, (a show about slavery in America) the kids threw rocks at our house, yelling Kunta Kinte! my mom wouldn’t allow me to throw rocks back. I didn’t care about racism, I just didn’t like people fucking with me. I begged my mom to let me break their windows. But she was trying to be a good Christian, and knowing my mom, it must have been hard for her. She wasn’t the type to back down.

There was two other white kids who lived around the corner, and sometimes the attention would shift to them. Not because of their color, but because they lived around the corner. On these occasions I would join forces with the kids on my block. We would use garbage can lids as shields, and sticks as swords. We picked bottles from the garbage that we would use as projectile weapons. The two boys from around the block walked around the corner with store-bought play shields and swords. They were no match for the dozen or so sticks and bottles, and soon turned tail and ran. Every once in a while our paths would cross and we would throw rocks as they rode their bicycles. I got one kids bikes front wheel with a stick and he flew over his handlebars face first onto the street. I ran home as I heard him crying. I was proud of myself.

Of course, it wasn’t long before I’d be at it with the kids across the street again. We would fight with Dookie Sticks. Dookie Sticks were a projectile weapon that were, well, sticks dipped in dookie. Dog shit to be exact. A dog named Brutus. Brutus was Eric’s dog, which gave him the advantage. What I had going for me however, was Eric threw like a girl, and his limp-wrist throwing technique wasn’t very effective. He’d run up singing “Wonder Woooomaaaannn!” and the stick would fall about five feet from him, and he’s turn and run. I’d pick up the stick and throw it at him. This would go on until the street was littered with sticks stuck in piles of dog shit like obscene lawn darts.

We didn’t always fight of course. Kids are kids, and don’t really hold grudges for long, and really don’t care about skin color anyway. And there were always new kids moving in the neighborhood. Once the dynamic changed and more boys moved in, I had other kids to play with and get in trouble with. I began to venture out and would meet other kids from other blocks.

One kid was named Candy Man, he was five. His mom called him that, and so did we. Though we called him Candy Man because he would steal candy for us. We’d go to the pharmacy and wait outside while he grabbed the goods. Eventually, we learned how to steal ourselves. We did this a lot, we didn’t always have food at home. Usually, we had something to eat, but sometimes it would be towards the end of the month before welfare came, and we’d be down to cereal and water, or bread and syrup (which was good) or some other mismatched concoction. So we didn’t need our arms twisted to resort to the adrenaline and sugar rush. Sometimes we stole toys, and even Playboy magazines. One day we were in the alley behind the pharmacy going over our latest score when the owner came out. He was a large man who was notorious for catching thieves and fake prescription hustlers. Even my dad in knew of him. He snatched us up and called the police. We were taken downtown and charged with shoplifting, my mom came and got Candy Man and me. This was my first arrest, (unless you count the time with my dad,) I was seven.

Steve
17th February 10, 02:14 AM
First thing, Frank. Don't fuck around with the fonts and colors, it turns off people. I would edit this to keep it all the same, with just an obvious break of text between the two.

Frank White
17th February 10, 03:40 AM
word. I'm copying from a doc so my font is off, but the color is because the twinkies are pissing me off. I'll edit accordingly, though I can't get the verdana font for whatever reason.

Ajamil
17th February 10, 03:44 AM
The blue was soothing - good color for tl;dr posts (let's amend that to prose posts), but STEEV I predict to be unwavering here.

Steve
17th February 10, 04:29 AM
word. I'm copying from a doc so my font is off, but the color is because the twinkies are pissing me off. I'll edit accordingly, though I can't get the verdana font for whatever reason.

Fixed.

Lebell
17th February 10, 06:32 AM
i like it how steev and jnp chose to ignore or ' overread' my advice, and give exactly the sdame advice themselves and they all feel smart now and stuff.

LOL!

phail!