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Old 2nd Nov 2006, 23:23   #2
Senior Palimpsester
suckles at the teat of the Palim-God
Join Date: 2 Dec 2004
Posts: 2,929
Default Re: OLD WOLF - a short story

I've been far too busy, flitting in and out of the Palimp to sit down and read this till tonight. So glad I did, Nou - this is delightful! I love the style you've adopted here - the short sharp statements, the absence of ornate language - it conveys the sense of this being a tale from folklore handed down from generation to generation, and has that 'mythical' quality to it. Or perhaps, fable, would be a better term. It's powerful and emotional without falling into the trap of being overtly sentimental - and I like that hugely.

And I do so like your ending - "waited for the moon to turn and look down at him, waited for the deeper dark to open its jaws and scoop him up and carry him on." Beautifully put and such a nice touch rounding the circle like that. It's just so apt for this type of story. Stories - especially short ones - benefit hugely from having a pleasing shape, as this one does. And it's also very nicely balanced. Balance and weighting of the beginning, middle and end being being important factors in what makes a short story successful or not. Too many amateur writers, in particular, (but there are professional writers who are guilty of this too), fail to understand the importance of making a story balanced in terms of how much space and time is spent on the intro, middle and concluding sections of it. The tendency being to put too much emphasis on the beginning setting things up and nothing like enough in allowing the rest, particularly the ending, to unfold without an unseemly scramble. The result is a story that is top heavy and horribly uneven in pace and delivery. Based on this showing, you've got a natural sense of timing for such things, I think. And I do so like the theme of teeth being used as a symbol of tenderness. It's unusual and deliciously paradoxical (as I suspect you meant it to be) since those same teeth can be used - as we are more in the habit of thinking about them - to rip the life out of something.

If I may offer a tiny carp - it's the term, 'small prey'. It's too bland and unspecific to engage the emotions as fully as naming the animal. I can see why you've gone with this term, rather than naming each victim, as it were - and it does fit in with the style of the whole piece, but once we start getting specific, rather than general - ie, the creature that is his last kill, and the one he tries to return to its mother, that very generalness of 'small prey' diffuses the impact and the reader's emotional involvement somehow.

I'm sure others may disagree with me on that little whingette, as it's a personal preference type of thang, but apart from that caveat, hats off to you, Nou, for a very affecting, nicely stylised little gem. Bravo, sir!
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