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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/profile/reviews/jbull
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46 Public Reviews Given
Public Reviews
1
1
Review of Never Enough  
Review by JBull
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
At worst, I would suggest your meter is off-and-on - that's to say, a couple lines don't seem to "fit" - but it's more "on" than "off," so good work there. The poem has a good narrative - something one doesn't always see - and I have NO IDEA why it never occurred to me that the author was the one to come up short. That's another vote in favor of your work.

And, to undercut my point about meter a little, I would like to offer suggestions as to how to address the areas where I felt the flow tripped up a little - could have been intentional for all I know - but this has never been my strength.

An enjoyable read regardless of the quibbles. Nice and tragic. Keep up the good work.
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Review by JBull
Rated: E | (3.5)
Assuming you are the same Andrew who wrote the convenience store robbery story, yes, I am kicking myself for encouraging you to read more. Though I stand by the point on principle.

It took a couple readings, this poem did, but it only took reconnecting it to the title and one more read to digest it. Supported by some very solid imagery - e.g. "I am dragging my shadow across town" - you have a very solid experiential poem. The divide between night and day holds the whole thing together. Nice work.
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Review by JBull
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
I have a lot of good things to say about this, but just one that might not read so swell....so I'll bury it.
Your basic plot is very strong: the characters fit together well enough and they're compelling and highly sympathetic, especially the main character. Your dialogue is also very good, to the extent I'd call it your unquestioned strength. Solid as the characters are, I'd only suggest you set a high bar for finding plausible ways to fit them together. On the plus side, you succeed on the level of basic plausibility - that's to say, as little as I know about your characters, what they do and say makes enough sense to justify it. The girl is your big outlier, however, the hardest piece to fit in. That's also a testament to your ambition, which is also admirable.
Now the comment that might not read so well. I don't know if you're a big reader - and please don't take offense if you are - but I'd simply suggest that you bury yourself deep, not only in this genre, but in just about anything suspense/crime based. This comes from a positive place: as noted above, you have a strong story here that just needs polishing; your dialogue is very good, but the narrative feels a little mechanical and it's there were things feel a little stretched in terms of making sense of your characters' interactions. Seeing how others handle this could help clean up the piece into something very impressive.
That said, I have scooted past three stories and this is the first that genuinely warranted a review. This is good work and keep writing.
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Review of Raining Rocks  
Review by JBull
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Because I struggle with poetry - I am working on it - I rated this pretty highly. By that I mean, I'm reading more poetry than I ever have in my life and, based on knowing and appreciating more, I think this a pretty good poem. My worst criticism would be that some of the "thes" (as in some instances of the article "the") throw off the rhythm a little. Otherwise, though, you communicate a notion of beauty neglected and the corrosive dishonesty inherent in addiction very clearly and with well-chosen tonality. Your choice to carry lines between stanzas also improves the flow.

Anyway, good work in a challenging medium.
5
5
Review of Romance Romance  
Review by JBull
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
First, sorry it took as long as it did to review...busy life, I have.

Very good read and I'm still a fan of your style - e.g. constant, almost screenplay-style dialogue and sparse, clear descriptions. Unlike a lot of things I read, I didn't find myself checking where the scroll-bar was on the right of the page, so it moved along pretty well to boot. And I'm a total sucker for the "story-within-the-story" since the Pension Grillparzer in World According to Garp.

Criticisms...feel like I should have some. I think at most it feels a little over-ironic and the detachment of Penny almost off-putting. Also, it's as if the character you're describing and her decision (or the advice she received rather) to write a farces applies to the story presented here. That said, it's very well handled and balanced deftly by Mark's briefly acknowledged appreciation for what she did on behalf of the "geriatrics." All in all, there's a kind of bitterness to the whole thing that is, for the most part, pretty appealing. Put another way, I relate too strongly to what the main character experiences to feel much distance from her.

Great work - again. Let me know if you ever want a review of something that feels stuck because this one reads pretty polished.

6
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Review of The Hanging  
Review by JBull
Rated: ASR | (3.5)
The first two lines are just dynamite for the way it so succinctly captures the character, in all senses of the word, of the man being hanged. But I feel like it gets a little progression-driven thereafter - and by that I mean it seems to reach a point where matching the previous rhyme does as much to inform the next line as anything - though that applies more to the first stanza than the second. I think (think) I see where you're going - poetry is one of the great challenges that I, frankly, don't have the balls to tackle - but I'm reading this as the tale of a brave and lonely person who stood against some unspoken manner of corruption getting the noose for his reward. I like the idea and think the execution is mostly there, but have to confess to getting a little lost.

I hope this doesn't read rude, or at least that the review speaks to what I think is real quality in your work, but it is a little hard to grasp.
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Review of Jury Duty  
Review by JBull
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Very enjoyable. And, christ, I hate Nickelback - so thanks for that. Can't think of much I would change; this site doesn't do surreal all that often. I don't do surreal all that often, but would appreciate reviews all the same.
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Review by JBull
Rated: E | (3.5)
You have a couple typos in there - e.g. unless I'm missing your use of language "array" in the second stanza should be "awry" and "then" in the first line of the final stanza should be "than." Otherwise, you have a nicely succinct, expressive poem here. The weight of emotion comes in nicely, the refrain aspect (e.g. "so as not to be hurt by you" followed by "than risk you hurting me") does what a refrain should: reinforce the thought. In short, I like it. Simplicity and poetry go together nicely.
9
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Review by JBull
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Very creative and surprisingly full given the limitations of dialogue only; to be a little snarky about it, being saved from describing the action might have saved you some work. I kid, I kid...but only insofar as actually believing it's a better story with just dialogue. That lends it a mystery that thickens the suspense.

In all seriousness, a very engrossing read with a hell of a folklore hook. Count me highly impressed that the dialogue never really broke down. If I had to pick a quibble, something about Uncle Yifo slipping out of character; he just seems too wily for that.

Great read. Just had to up the rating again.
10
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Review by JBull
Rated: E | (3.5)
Nice little vignette/morality tale. The only technical issues come with a couple spelling errors/typos - e.g. "suppliment" should be spelled "supplement."

I'm curious about the style, which is to ask whether it's yours or tailored to the story. For what it's worth, I'm of the opinion that it enhances the mood if it's tailored, but I also don't want to question someone else's style when I'm working through getting to a firm sense of my own.

But I really appreciate the simplicity of the story and how well it fits into its length. Good work and keep writing.
11
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Review of Soldier's Story  
Review by JBull
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
This one really brings up a lot of thoughts, so I thought I'll begin with the two jab: I didn't like the diary technique because it has a kind of "gimmicky" feel. Take that for an opinion and nothing more; I have this preference for using "ands" and "buts" to start sentences, which not everyone goes for.

One more thing that's more thought than criticism: when I read a story like this, part of me always wants a narrator to wax eloquent, to address the meaning of combat, rather than the content. But I think what you have here works better - and that's with the narration included.

The good stuff? The story for one: very well told, but the thoughtful and plausible construction of something so implausible scores big; I count the July 10th entry the best of a very good bunch. The ending was extremely strong as well; the reduction of the narrator to child-like dependency has a truly haunting quality.

The fact I could go on for a while with praise and suggestions (for what they're worth) says a lot about the quality. Yeah...just upped the rating again. Thanks for posting.
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Review of Patchwork  
Review by JBull
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
You have a very, very good start here. The mystery worked very well and the twist came, genuinely, out of the blue. My only suggestion would be to clean/up simplify the language in some parts: for instance, the eyes of a groggy person who doesn't want to go to work don't "shoot" anywhere; he's depressed, as he ought to be. And carrying out metaphors to their conclusion doesn't always work as well: "came crashing down" doesn't need "like an anvil" to complete it. Those are quibbles about cleaning up, though, (trust me, you'll find more in anything I post once I get to doing it) because the writing overall does what it should: lead the reader into a lull then take off with the twist.

Hope you make progress on it soon.
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Review of A Bunch Of Things  
Review by JBull
Rated: E | (3.5)
I like it, but I can't say why for sure; oddly it would have made for a lower rating had I really believe I "got it." Not much importance in the latter, but what I appreciate about the piece is the recurring theme of things together - made me feel kind of warm and hopeful (and I'm not being smart-alecky in that comment). Things done together resonate and the disparate nature of the things chosen reinforce that sense.

The language is good, smartly chosen....I think an impulse to keep my powder dry is the only thing keeping me from rating it more highly (is there a payoff for that? I'm new here.)
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Review by JBull
Rated: 13+ | (2.5)
You chose an inherently heightened situation, and that's good, but the entire thing needs to be fleshed out. That's not an outright criticism because you can do that at any point going forward, or either edit the piece to fill in more information. One genuine compliment: you use your dialogue well to fill in the characters, even within the short space in which you're operating. Anyway, this could be the start of a fine story; just needs a little flesh on those bones.
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Review of The articles  
Review by JBull
Rated: E | (3.0)
Funny thing - or, rather, the not-so-funny thing - my own grandfather (now deceased) lost his left arm in a very similar accident. And I know what you mean: after a while, it becomes normal to the point of being banal. As such, I appreciate the attempt to sincerely feel the moment of the accident, to try to imagine the fear and, probably guilt, "Pop" felt as he tried to assess where his life would go from there. Like your grandfather, mine just kind of picked up and carried on; he was never what anyone would call successful, but he made the grade. Thanks for the memories in a way.
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