So I saw that this story is featured this month in the CR. And I was like, "I HAVE to check this out. Because it's teh and of course I'm going to love it!" And this story did not disappoint, rest assured. I was mesmerized from start to finish.
The thing I love best about your work is how imaginative you are with word choice. You don't even have to deliberately set out to describe a scene or a mood; you just make it so vivid through the words you choose.
"I can smell you, the different layers of your body: the sweat beading on your skin, the oil glands leaking into your subcutaneous tissue, the salt in the capillaries irrigating the flesh."
^What an intense, rich way to describe life, especially from the point of view of someone who can't remember what it feel like to be human. This is my favorite passage in the entire piece, but there are so many others that I loved as well. I found myself going back and rereading some lines a couple more times, just to absorb the tidal wave of imagery. Fantastic job!
Sanguini (or David, as I should probably call him) surprised me. He seems so...mild-mannered. Not sinister or evil at all. Definitely not what I imagined from him. His sentimentality about names struck a chord with me, and made him a much more sympathetic character. Even though he would probably deny that he was sentimental. His voice says otherwise, though. He's detached, but not as detached as he seems outwardly.
But as soon as I started feeling sympathetic toward him, he kills Eldred. I guess it was inevitable and I was kidding myself to think he wouldn't do it eventually. I was surprised and not surprised when he did it, and I still don't know what to think about it. Haha, I'm sorting it out in my mind; it might take a while :)
I feel like you were hinting at a deeper sinister nature about Eldred, without really saying it. At one point Sanguini "really looked at him, and detested him." And Eldred would make these little comments here and there that just didn't sit well. AND he treated Sanguini like a character rather than an actual being, using him to feed his own ego. All this sort of prickled in my mind, and I never liked anything about Eldred as I read this piece. But you never came out and actually said, "Hey y'all, Eldred is kind of a sleaze." You let his actions and words speak for him, through Sanguini's mind. I admire this so, so much; you painted his character so strongly and never had to hold the reader's hand in guiding us to our realizations about him. I don't even know how to express my thoughts coherently right now on this subject, but just know that I'm in awe of your ability to "show and not tell." Absolutely in awe. It makes each tiny nuance of movement and speech so much more powerful.
There was only one line that didn't sit well with me. It's in the next-to-last section, when Sanguini says, "And I am fine with this." Is he really? Can he really be fine with the prospect of losing himself completely? Granted, it does seem like Sanguini doesn't have much of a sense of self anyway. But I just found it difficult to believe that he wouldn't dread the dead end his life is headed for, at least a little bit. He shows enough emotion throughout the piece, especially toward Eldred and the memory of his own name, that I can't see him being quite so apathetic about that dismal future. If it were me, I might just take that line out and leave the paragraph before as the closing statement of that section. I think that would add the perfect touch of wistful regret, while still retaining the shrugging, cest-la-vie Sanguini voice you've established throughout the piece.
Anyway. I LOVED this, and I'm so glad it was featured this month! Your talent is huge, teh. I love reading your work, and I'm so glad I was able to find some time to give you a nice long review :) Congrats and keep it up!
Author's Response: AHH MAGGIE! !!?! ♥
I've actually been responding to my reviews, and I finished the last one, went 'Muaha, I'm done!' and then refreshed the page, and there was your lovely review!! Thank you so, SO much for taking the time to drop by and read this fic...and it isn't a short fic either, so I'm honestly so flattered and humbled. ♥
Word choice is my life, haha. I had a lot of fun with imagery and diction in this fic; I pretty much didn't try to limit myself /too/ much. When I was writing this monologue-thing, I decided to simply have fun with it. Usually my other stories have far less, and the prose is a bit more tightly controlled.
Your compliments on the characterisation! ♥ I do, indeed, have a greater preference for 'showing' in my own writing; I like readers to think a bit, to dwell on what characters say and do, and imagine them in their own ways. And I'm glad this has come across to you, and that you are able to appreciate the nuances in characterisation a lot more.
Eldred is not the most noble of characters; he's certainly very flawed, but then again, so is Sanguini. They're both rather self-centred, and it was probably quite obvious that their relationship was not going to turn out well. I'm still pondering whether Eldred being dead (even if it was more of an impulse rather than a premeditated thing) is a good idea. Whether I should remove it and the drama that comes with it. Perhaps David should just walk away...but there's a differnet side of Eldred that surfaced when Sanguini tried to, the first time...hmmm. (sorry, going off on a tangent here...)
My intention with writing the 'and I am fine with this' was to show how resigned he is to his fate. Identity and the meaningfulness of his prolonged existence is something that has plagued him for years and years and years (I suppose this is quite a common theme for vampire texts), and I thought that he /had/ to have some sort of moment of acceptance, some sort of mild defeat where he realises that whatever is going to happen is inevitable, and that once he accepts the inevitable, he becomes a little bit more at peace with himself...it isn't going to be so simple all the time, however. My belief is that he will continue to struggle with this fate, but other times he will be resigned, possibly rather cynical. (And other times he'll be completely not-aware of anything... :( ). I will definitely look through that section again, to make these things clearer/ Thank you so much on the feedback for that bit, Maggie! ♥
And thanks again for this AMAZING detailed review, Maggie! ♥ Your compliments and feedback are just wonderful, and I loved hearing your thoughts about this!