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Literature by Vixan1187746

Literature. by Hanaki-chan

Prose by anapests-and-ink

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Submitted on
November 16, 2012
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I don't have much to say about this except well, that's the war. And to think now-major Andrews is having one of the better holidays of the guys in that unit.

And to thank ~oboe-wan for loaning me Oliver, Becca, and Gwennie. Hope i did them justice, and here have an early Christmas present. (let's hope I start giving you less depressing christmas presents - am I right?)

Critique is always welcome. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.
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Daily Deviation

Given 2012-12-24
Classically-DePunk Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
This piece here hits straight to the gut.

Jen, one of the aspects of your writing that astounds me, (and it's rare to find) is how you can grasp right at the crux of things.
Neil's voice is alive- almost deadened (or simply exhausted to the point everything is numbed) but acutely aware of how life resumes despite war- whether war is ongoing or ended.

Celebrating a holiday after war- it's almost outrageous. To Neil, it's alien, it's grating to try to spend a Christmas amongst what others consider the warmth and cheer of family and friends. But for Neil, he left behind a family- half of this family (his men) are dead. Celebrating a holiday centered on birth is a kick in the teeth.

Going through the motions- attending the children's play, joining the choir as not to be alone- at least he can believe in himself and in Becca- it's perfunctory and it's stark how detached Neil is, but what else would he be experiencing?

But Neil tries to shove back and mask his true state of self for Rebecca's and Gwennie's sake- this part struck a chord when I read it:

And that hits me; a future. Spoiling my niece. Bells keep pealing, nieces need spoiling, the world keeps turning, even if I'm angry about it.

"I did hear you sing."

She draws back. "I only really sang the glorias."

"They were wonderful."

"Happy Christmas, Uncle Neil."

It's not a very happy Christmas. But she doesn't need to know it. "Merry Christmas, darling."

As he puts it, the world does keep turning, even if he is angry about it.

Even if all this mirth is empty to him, Neil appreciates the anchor his wife provides- it doesn't resolve anything, but it's an anchor enough to help him through this transition.

You had mentioned previously that you felt the beginning was rambly- when I read it, it didn't feel rambly. It felt natural, it felt like the real flow of a man contemplating.

The way Neil, as oboe-wan pointed out, can turn poetic (in a blunt fashion) is impressive- it renders him all the more human.

Also, as oboe-wan mentioned, the way you interwoven the children's carol's lyrics is impressive. I believe there are times where these seemingly minute actions can evoke us to think on how ironic life proves itself to be.

Being inexperienced, I cannot say I can give sound advice, but (and this might just be stylistic preference or else grammatically incorrect on my part) some of the sentences where there commas, perhaps the points could be better emphasized with hyphens and more period breaks?

 For example:
I lay my head on hers and shut my eyes and try to forget how cold my boys are, where they might be, curled up under the covers in some brothel bed, or in a dugout far to the east alone, afraid.
...I believe in guns and the monsters inside men, and the brotherhood too, when I think about it. I believe in Rebecca, and I hold her hand fiercely. Quietly, roughly, I add my voice to the choir. Not for any credence lent to the lyrics; I just want don't want to be alone.

Perhaps change to:
I lay my head on hers and shut my eyes and try to forget how cold my boys are- where they might be, curled up under the covers in some brothel bed, or in a dugout far to the east alone, afraid.
...I believe in guns and the monsters inside men. And the brotherhood too, when I think about it. I believe in Rebecca -  I hold her hand fiercely. Quietly, roughly, I add my voice to the choir. Not for any credence lent to the lyrics- I just want don't want to be alone.

However, this is all up to your judgment.

All in all, this work is hard-hitting, and reading it left an impact on me.
VFreie Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2013
The title, to begin with. I find it redundant and awkward and more like a place-holder than a proper title. I strongly suggest breaking it to, for example, Christmas over there or At the border of England, or something like Hear the bells on Christmas day.

Being an officer is like being a parent;
I think a colon would be more fitting than a semicolon here, since the following sentence is the exposition of what has been introduced in this one.

Land mines don't know that the war has ended, and neither does hunger.
Pro: great summarising sentence.
Con: not charmed by that comma. It breaks the flow in a short sentence that doesn’t really need the interruption; besides, it comes immediately after another “, and” which makes it feel repetitive.

because in a trench
“because” is useless, the cause-effect relationship is clear already.

you can't even open the flap
“even” just clutters the sentence.

The snow is falling fairly steadily
Double adverb is too much. You may rephrase this, or just change “fairly” with “quite”.

I'm not sure which is more preferable; living in an underground warren or being alone between tall Paris buildings.
Definitely a colon rather than a semicolon here.

Either way, not much I can do for them from here. That is why the army gives us lieutenants.
Best line is best. It felt refreshing to have some snark slipped in at this point, even though it’s fucking bleak, matter-of-factly snark in its turn.

"I'll go," I answer tightly. "It'd break Gwennie's heart if I didn't."
I think you could do away with the dialogue tag entirely. One adverb less, and it’s still evident from Neil’s very words that the answer is tight.

"Alright," he says slowly, and he's testing his ground.
Same here, the dialogue tag could be cut.

I feel watched, and I feel pitied, and I feel wondered about.
On one hand, I would call for some variation here: perhaps remove all the “and”, or go for “I feel watched, pitied, wondered, about”. On the other, this version with the “and” and “I feel” gives off more a sense of progressive actions, of feelings that don’t happen all at the same time like my suggestion would instead lead the reader to infer. Up to you which option you’d rather keep.

Quietly, roughly, I add my voice to the choir.
Not fond of that “quietly”. It sounds contradicting, as in: how can one be quiet if he’s singing? Perhaps a rephrase to avoid the adverbs altogether would work better.

cardboard wings flapping behind her and hugs my legs.
Missing comma between “her” and “and”.

And that hits me; a future.
Colon rather than semicolon.

So for now I'll have to take it as it comes, one day, one Christmas at a time.
Beautiful, saddening/hopeful end.

That Neil voice nails it all. Tongue-tied Christmas among the adults makes a strong contrast with the blissfully ignorant, at times embarrassingly cheerful kids, and I really like that. Especially coupled with all the parental concern, if you can even call it such, that Neil feels for his men and keeps running through the whole piece, it wraps up the family theme and adds more heartbreak. Speaking of which, this: I clap along with them, methodically. I'm sure the kids were great. wins the most powerful line award. With an actually useful adverb in –ly inside, no less! Well done. :thumbsup:
doughboycafe Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2013  Professional Writer
Indepth crit for the win!

Late reply to crit for the lose. D:

But no seriously, thank you. Much obliged and very glad you liked it. I'll get on the edits as I go through to fix some of my earlier work. This is one I really want to brush up so I can send it out.

I also have issues with the title. Unfortunately while I like your last suggestion best, it's actually the title(ish) of the Longfellow poem I jacked in order to write this. So, probably bad form to steal it. :/ I'll ponder.
anapests-and-ink Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
You have a special talent for making us think about what happens after war. I've always hated novels, etc., that only talk about the horrors of the physical fighting and never go into the long-term effects. I think you hit on it perfectly with "We don't need a holy night and especially not a silent night." It's such a powerful line; there's all the pain and despair of being forced to 'enjoy' a holiday when you really can't. This is a wonderful DD. :heart:
doughboycafe Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2013  Professional Writer
:heart: thank you so much for the read and the feedback. I'm so glad there was such an overwhelmingly positive response to this, despite how deeply sad it is.
anapests-and-ink Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Sometimes 'sad' is what makes a piece meaningful.
mere-death Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2012
I really like this, it made me think. I really don't like Christmas, so I kinda relate to Neil. Not that I have any war wounds or experience from cannon fire, but still.

Characters are deep and realistic and the story flows nicely. I truly enjoyed reading this, thanks!
doughboycafe Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2012  Professional Writer
Thank you so much for the comment, I appreciate you reading it and I am so happy you enjoyed reading it. A little gift giving for both of us then, in the christmas spirit ;)
tirasunil Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I'm so sorry people feel that way about Christmas, or any of the holidays for that matter. God is not dead, nor does he sleep. Very poignant.
doughboycafe Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2012  Professional Writer
Or even just family get togethers, or homecomings :c It's very sad, but I used to see a lot of it. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.
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