Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

The Luck of Madonna 13

03 July 2004

All program participants for Conkopelli were handed a hardback copy of this book. Without net access, I can’t verify if it was self-published or simply from a very odd small press.

I’m half-tempted to read it just to see how many more bad metaphors there are, but I figured chapter first sentences was quite enough.

Chapter 1 starts on page 39. This alone should be a clue.

First sentences from the chapters:

1: Hair the color of dusty emeralds sprayed from under the silver-blue sheen of the prayer helmet. (Literally sprayed?)

2: A noise crept into Glendyl’s awareness with the stealth of a puma stalking prey. (Bad metaphor, no biscuit.)

3: The massive pentagon glittered like a highrise ice sculpture in the morning sun. (Not as bad, but I don’t like it when I perceive buildings as melty.)

4: “Stop it Jamis!” grumbled Glendyl, ducking her head inside her sleepsack to escape the nose-licking. (Ah, sleeping characters, always a dynamic way to start a chapter.)

5: Lunch thrust itself into Glendyl’s gullet with reckless velocity, barely chewed: a strip of Diogenes’ jerky, a lank rod of string cheese, and an energy stick. (Give that food a speeding ticket!)

6: Lizbeth’s fingers nervously trolled the ends of her hair; her eyes scrutinized the pyramid of likesteak as if deliverance from the upcoming ordeal was hidden somewhere under the pinkish juices. (1. You troll for something. I don’t expect that her hair was attempting to catch a fish. 2. Calling a rabbit a smeerp again.)

7: Disdain. Awe. Fear. Admiration. Scorn. Five nouns, a flip-flopping teeter-totter pivoting on the word “fear.” (Nouns and verbs, hon. Nouns and verbs.)

8: Dull sounds, blurred by the incessant roar of the Wittwater: a whirring, a gruff metallic rasping, a resounding clang-clunk. (With no one to hear the tree fall.)

9: A dancing white cone pressed against the darkeness: foot by grudging foot dark yielded, but only for a moment. (Don’t you love it when sentences contradict themselves?)

10: Rumors sprang through St. Coriander like bulimic locusts, devouring every tidbit of gossip, regurgitating it and hopping to the next. (Department of Similes Gone Horribly Wrong. This was the first sentence that caused Rick to scream, slam the book closed, and drop it.)

11: Glendyl woke up groggy and unaware that she had missed all the recent excitement in the Infirmary. (POV break.)

12: “What are those little triangle things? And what’s the gooey black stuff with the little round things in it?” inquired Glendyl just a little testily. (Can we have enough modifiers on that dialogue tag?)

13: Darkness absorbed Glendyl’s diving body like a hungry sponge. (Wouldn’t that have been nice?)

14: Glendyl, whispered the faint, distorted voice. It came from both near and far away and nagged at her Princess Glendyl dream like a pea under a hundred goosedown mattresses. (Asleep again!)

15: Dillowy Cavern was not really a cavern: it just looked like one. (Mmmhmmm. Tell us what something is, not what it’s not. It’s incredibly hard to form a negative image.)

16: A hyperactive giant with a tree-sized mallet aimed, swing and delivered another quick stroke. (Can this guy use the serial comma consistently? No.) Better is a couple of sentences later:

Oh no! thought Lizbeth’s head with a tinny cry of distress and another lump. (This parses as a) “a tinny cry of distress” and b) “a tinny cry of another lump.” Does that make sense to you? Many beginners use “and” when they really are looking to create a sense of events occurring in time. However, the word doesn’t work that way. “Then” would have been correct, though that would not have fixed this sentence.)

17: Nothing but nothingness: not even an echo for comfort. (The problem with putting the echo in the picture is then that’s what the reader imagines. Since it’s not there, that’s a problem.)

18: The Eye in the cliff leered, obscene and cyclopic. (Argon?)

19: Lizbeth Marble’s exhaustion hung on her like a five-hundred pound nightgown. (Bad simile. No biscuit.)

20: Castle Ommergard floated into a simmering dawn. (Another unintended ambiguity: literally floated? Because, in sf/f, that is possible.)

21: Three persons are playing Name That Sculpture. (Actually, this one sentence is one I’m half fond of. It doesn’t really say anything, but at least it doesn’t get too much in the way of potential understanding.)

Oh, and the kicker, at the end of the chapter: “Thus ends book one.”

Oh dear.

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