Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"The Hour of the Time" (2010)

     I gave a very brief review of Vincent Hobbes' short story "The Hour of the Time" on Goodreads.com on 29 March, 2011.  Very brief.

     This really feels like a story written in a single session with minimal
     revising. And it is entirely too easy to see where it is going because
     I've seen this story before (in different iterations).
     Hobbes manages to find a tone after the first couple of pages, but
     it is so brief that there isn't much to do with that tone.  I think he
     would have been better off developing the setting more and trying
     to see if he could have found a way to convey to the reader that
     the character of Charlie Hoag is one anyone should give a damn
    Okay for free, but if Hobbes were a friend I would have sent back a
    heavily edited version with notes on what may (because I'm not an
    expert) have made it a better written piece.

     Even with my name attached to it, I feel somewhat protected by the anonymous nature of posting reviews to places like Goodreads or Amazon.  However, in this instance, the author of the piece went and read my (if we are going to be frank about it) less than helpful review.  Worse – from my perspective – rather than rejecting my conclusion or commenting on where I may have missed the point, he decided to like the above review.
     Dammit, Hobbes!  Don't encourage my overly negative, hyper-critical style of commenting on...well, everything.  Seeing as how most of the people who left reviews for it were very pleased, I was clearly in the minority.  But I did read the story, and I'm not without some kind of expectations.  (I didn't pay anything for it because it is available for free on Kindle and Nook.)
     The real question becomes not what I think of this Hobbes' short story (which I do think is a little too obvious in its endgame and not interested enough in developing the setting or singular character), but rather how does one tell a story that the reader most likely has seen before in some other presentation?  As soon as I see that I am writing a story, or part of a story, that I know I am drawing from a single source, I get freaked out and either scratch-out/erase that passage or set the piece aside for a good long time.  I want to avoid frustrating the potential reader so much that my work ends up having little chance of ever getting to them.
     Hobbes finished this story.  It is readable and, after a rough start, finds a decent pace.  But I think he could have developed the specifics of it more to help me (and maybe other readers) get something new from this type of story.

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