Book Jacket

 

rank 93
word count 27609
date submitted 12.10.2010
date updated 11.09.2013
genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Romance
classification: universal
incomplete

WATCHING SWIFTS

R J Askew

Kew Gardens, London, one summer.

 

'This may take all summer. Your hair... I may have to sketch each strand.'

Emma, a jaded war photographer strolling through Kew Gardens, shoots him casually with her Nikkon. Tom, a refugee from himself, claims the right to draw her with one of his 'rescue pencils.' And so the distance between their two solitudes shrinks as they are drawn fleetingly into each other's orbit.

Tom, aka Leonardo, sells ice-cream to tourists and sketches his beloved swifts. Emma is mesmerised by his artist's eye and the gentle beauty of his vision, in which she sees things in an ethereal light forever beyond the capacity of any camera lens to capture.

But the brutality of his past follows him to Kew to be rekindled by a petty gardener and a row over the siting of a rubbish bin, a dispute which escalates when the latter destroys a swift's nest and one of the birds dies.

A monkey puzzle tree gives balance to this allegorical novella in which the swifts show Nature's creative joyful dynamism at and the tree of daggers her cutting static defensiveness, qualities which vie in all of us.





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tags

art, blood, camera, death, drawing, eye, flight, hope, ice cream, kew gardens, london, love, misanthropy, monkey puzzle, nature, prison, redemption, s...

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185 comments

 

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Amy Craig Beasley wrote 1040 days ago

Piti, piti, wazo fe nich li. ~ A Haitian Proverb
Little by little the bird builds its nest.

With poetic cadence and a steady tone, RJ Askew in his short novel Watching Swifts has carefully constructed a story that nest-like is sure to be the very place from which new life emerges.

Intertwined with modern themes, threads of naturalism glimmer in this romantic memoir-like tale about two people in the midst of others one summer in London. Tilting at times into almost rap-like beat, the post post modernist poet-working-prose format helps to develop the character. In his intimate and at times intense voice, a sort-of marrow of life is revealed. Most of the action takes place in the safe confines of Kew Botanical Gardens, a slower and greener space (yet not without its dangers) set apart from the larger regions of the austere industrialized city. Conflicts (man against man/ man against nature) lead to relevant questions: How does one live in a world when so much hate and so little regard to those aspects of life once called sacred (such as innocence, love, beauty) are treated with carelessness and apathy and sometimes outright meanness. Protagonist Tom, Leonardo to some, through meditations on nature, meanderings in art, and conversations with a photographer who is mysteriously taken with him, finds a way to avoid a predetermined role as a malcontent and live his life to its fullest. He slides like the swifts he observes into a “getting the better of himself” mindset. This work becomes Kew Gardens, and the writer “As Kew” has created the nesting place, where the reader, if careful to “look slowly”, can see an aspect of self more clearly and then move on having gained some sort of new insight for the journey ahead called life – Honest, potent and tantalizingly real Watching Swifts has a magical quality that is sure to charm modern readers. 6 stars is not enough for this find.

~ a
The Women Who Fly Kites

Miss Wells wrote 1260 days ago

Straight off there’s a gorgeous rousing hypnotic beat to the syntax. The beat of waves rising, arching and breaking on shingle. Love the cadence created by the cleverly repeated words and the interruptions, the fallings away into silence. Fabulous, the juxtaposition of the hardened tone and the lyrical nature of the prose’s embroidery. There’s a strong tide running through this – that’s quickly apparent. The world traveller finding fate in the local park is a brilliant complex philosophical idea rendered here with an almost effortless jauntiness. Ice creams and drawings. “A thousand sticks of memory” – love that. London’s a major character here too. You’ve got its pulse beating through the narrative. Love the sense of the disembodied voices, both caught in the act of creating choreography, order and dance, from memory, from experience. Creates an effect of evolution before our eyes, movement and pollination. Love the distance you’ve created between two solitudes too. Watch this space! And then the questions…
This has vitality, insight, voice, philosophy and a tender yet also scathing intimacy with the times in which we live. One of the best I’ve read on here.

Eric Laing wrote 1279 days ago

There is an elegant poetry to your writing. The voice of your swift philosopher is so genuine, so full of wonder, magic and life...it is little wonder how he has captivated the war photographer. As I read on, I came to feel this is like one massive love letter, spoken as it were, but a love letter more than anything else. Your style is quite unique and it ensures that we will be drawn to this quite different soul as well.

This work is truly inspired. I must confess that I hurt me head a bit trying to glean the symbolism of the monkey puzzle tree, for how could such not hold some profound meaning. Perhaps the answer lies deeper than my capacity or is revealed beyond the chapters I read. Perhaps the danger inherent to life...I'm not certain.

The fascination with the sky and nature (specifically in the freedom of the swifts) found in a man who has been imprisoned is much easier for me to grasp. :)

This is truly lovely work and I wish you the greatest success with it and all that it deserves.

Best,

E

Ellie S Lee wrote 1253 days ago

An intensely moving book, skilfully crafted, delicate yet powerful too somehow. I found your use of language on occasion sublime with phrasing often breath-taking.

"The joy of this what-if- summer will taste all the sweeter for never having been enjoyed. Maybe it’s the things we don’t have, can’t have, that we crave and love the most, retaining, as they do, their never to be sullied promise of…perfection"

"Just a little blade of silence thrust carefully into his craven conscience was my only response"

I have read it all and would happily do so all over again. Wonderful, loved it.

Chris 1 wrote 96 days ago

I read some of this before and have come back to it to have another look at it. I enjoyed what I read. The opening chapter and it has a real charm to it, a simple charm, and I think most thinks simple are often the best. There's a romantic and meaningful feel to it without being mawkish - pass the bucket sickly - with enchanting, interesting characters in realistic situations that are, somehow, made extraordinary. I'm trying to figure out why you haven't developed this further and loaded more up, but, as far as it goes, it needs encouraging. I'll back this and put it on my shelf in the hope you may well put some more of it up so I can give it a better look.

JOE ADU-GYAMFI wrote 188 days ago

I have just read one chapter of this story but i will come back read more because its seems unusual to me. its different kind of book!

Vithereader wrote 240 days ago

This is simply beautiful.

R. Dango wrote 414 days ago

It is quite amazing how a monologue opens up into a whole new world of lives of people working in the Kew Garden's little ice cream shop, their lovers, the tourists, the customers, and the narrator himself and the war photographer who happened to have taken his photo. It reminded me of Steven Millhauser's Revenge except his was scary and had a lot less lives involved.
If I may ask for more, I'd have appreciated more description of the Kew Garden in the early stage. Not everyone has been to the Kew Garden so its greenness, sereneness in the bustling London, and the tropical greenhouse in the cold rainy country perhaps could be described for those who hasn't had a chance to be one of those tourists?
One typo: Achtung. New (Now?) look who's here!

I enjoyed reading what's posted here.

R

Seringapatam wrote 414 days ago

I was drawn into the book from the first line of the book, but I didnt get hooked into it until later on in the book. You do have a nice voice in the book and tell the story well. I liked the story line and it suits the two main characters down to the ground. Well done for that. With the narrative and the pace of this book it really suits the readers eyes and will more often that not get them hooked. I liked this a lot and score it high. Well done.
Sean Connolly. British Army on the Rampage. (B.A.O.R) Please consider me for a read or watch list wont you?? Many thanks.Sean

Christina in AZ wrote 496 days ago

Review of Watching Swifts
RJ:
Hook - You had me at “Kew Gardens”. Long hook is lovely.
Opening - Prologue and straight into the voice of the Swift Man. Not the easiest read!

Conflict & Plot - Clearly the two MCs while not “made for each other” seem to fill a void for each other.
Setting - Kew Gardens, what could be better?

Dialogue -
Style - The prologue is in the woman’s voice. I find it very choppy and at times difficult to follow. I like a natural style, nothing wrong with that, but you mix in some lyrical bits with it as well. Consequently, I think it could be helped by a tightening up. Part of it is a UK/US thing which I’m learning to recognize on authonomy. What sounds natural to me is not the same to you UKs. No worries. Just my opinion.
The voice of Leonardo is REALLY hard to follow especially without the woman’s dialogue added to it. This is clearly done on purpose, but such a long ramble is quite difficult to follow - not mainstream for certain. For myself, I enjoy it, but I think it will be a hard sell (not that I really know about that)
Chapter 1 is - WOW! the rambling words - not dialogue because we don’t hear any other side of it the savant swift guy.
Technical -
Chapter 1
paragraph starting “Love, life... That was the summer. (that seems overly repetitive).
paragraph starting “Though it’s the drawings... boss my eyes (seems an odd verb) Never saw myself as a nature girl (insert “a”)
paragraph starting “He had me... the sentence “You could say I collected him... End at comma and start new sentence (insert “I”) instead of ... insert “who”
paragraph starting “Yes, I got to know him..... “tastes the shaper.” I have no idea what that means.
paragraph starting “He speaks like he’s... “lost to the male grooming sector” Not sure what that means. In this woman’s opinion, many men have grooming issues. Is there really a “sector”?
paragraph starting “My first thought was why am I... I have well full-metal survival instincts. (remove “well”? “full-metal” is quirky enough without the confusion of ‘well’.
paragraph starting “She’ll strut past Billy... too formally neatly.” remove ly from neatly?

Pace - Chapter 1 is long. Haven’t got the feel for the pace of the book as I’ve only finished the first chapter. Will finish up here for now as I have other reading to attend.

Thanks for a unique and remarkable read.

All the best,
Christina
Modern Adventures in Sherwood Forest

P.S. I LOVE the “Rocket Triumphs” poem you wrote for jrevino. I was checking him out (like I do these days) to see if he returns reads and the answer seemed to be a resounding “NO”, but I’m glad I found your poem. Didn’t read his book, just your poem. Wonderful! AND, it led me to read YOUR book. Nicely done!

LCF Quartet wrote 549 days ago

Hi R,
I read the first two chapters of Watching Swifts and I liked it very much. Your authentic style certainly delivers.

You know your characters well and literature is best friends with boldness, you know. You have it I guess.

You know how to create dialogue and it's believable.

6/6 stars from me to you and in my Watch List for further comments,
Lucette Cohen fins- Ten Deep Footprints

Tom Bye wrote 567 days ago

hello R.J Askew-
book- Watching swifts-

Oh what a beautiful read- as it flows along in a poetic style-
this has to be the most relaxing read on this site, in fact one of the better literary reads-
that's for sure- enjoyed ever page turning line of it-
yes- it's different-
and it deserves my six stars -
wish you good luck with it-

tom bye
book - from hugs to kisses-
dig deep into mine and enjoy my life in dubin in the 40s -thanks

Lynne Heffner Ferrante wrote 605 days ago

What an incredible voice you have found, and what an engaging and compelling story it tells. I am caught up immediately, at the first sentence, and forced to read further and further. You are indeed an incredible writer, and you have created two extremely complex and fascinating characters. There is no way i can put this book down until I find out what happens next,, where it is ultimately going and how it ends.
Six stars and I will back you when my current commitments end..

:Lynne Heffner Ferrante
An Untenablel Fragrance of Violets

Juliet Blaxland wrote 671 days ago

Watching Swifts could quite easily make the reader feel rather wistfully nostalgic for those endless days, those restless days, when the frisson of seasonal, transient loves can be knowingly taken up in passing, without causing regret for 'wasted' time (unless 'the reader' was/is still actually living in that sacred phase, in which case there would be no need for the wistfulness)... There is something of the allegorical arty French or Italian film about this novella, and an earthiness of mood which resists the triteness and psycho-babble of Jonathan Liviingston Seagull. Watching Swifts has a timeless, ephemeral quality, reminiscent of Italo Calvino, sharing some of its ingredients with the likes of If On a Winter's Night a Traveller and Invisible Cities. This is intended as high praise indeed. At times the style hovers dangerously close to full-on pretentiousness, but this is probably a fault in the right direction for this type of book, especially considering that the other end of the style-o-meter might reasonably be labelled 'drivel'.

Skywise, stylewise, there are some beautiful and confident expressions and imagery; somewhere a sky 'rippled like a Norfolk beach', a swift in flight 'whis'purr'red', etc., but there are also quiet a few niggly nits, 'the bin sits well in it's new place' [its], 'de ja vu' [deja, ideally with the correct accute and grave accents], and so on... The 'monster' with his 'titanium halo of success' was satisfyingly speedily sketched as a villain, making the dog-kicking scene more palatable for being somewhat hyper-real, and thus more symbolic than actual (a relief, not a criticism, and a necessary catalyst for the Meursault-esque freedom-imprisonment meditation moment). Thank the heavens for the phrase 'draw you' here actually meaning 'draw you', properly, with a pencil... [as distinct from the wretchedly over-used phrase, at least on this site, 'draw you in']... I hope this lovely book is not spoilt by yet another silly sham author name. 'R J Askew' seems borderline schoolboy Pythonesque for a story which takes place in Kew; but, in this case, the book is delightful; so, if so, so what?

Wanttobeawriter wrote 721 days ago

WATCHING SWIFTS
This is an interesting book. I like the way you’ve written it as a stream of conscious flow from each character. Really lets a reader get inside each one. The idea of a photogragher as a main character is unique; like the way you describe her as someone who always stays remote, keeps a lens between herself and others. Makes her relationship with the Swift Man even more meaningful. Probably not a book for everyone (no great action, no gun battles here), it’s a book to take on vacation when a reader has the time to enjoy and saver each beautifully written word. Highly starred and added to my shelf. Wanttobeawriter: Who Killed the President?

leshilton wrote 785 days ago

I've read ch 2.
Backed.
Hope you'll read ch 4 of mine, I can use some good feedback.

Eric Laing wrote 813 days ago

RJ

I've commented on the writing before and as you know I really loved it. That said, I wanted to let you know that you have a blue ribbon with the new (new to me, at least) cover. Fantastic. Simple, but elegant. And a real eye-catcher to boot.

All the best,

E

Wildfleour wrote 936 days ago

I have never read anyone with your particular style or talent. Your writing fascinates, allures, pulls me in and I want more nectar to feast on. You have shown how poetry can be infused into prose. Just delicious!

Liam wrote 962 days ago

I enjoyed the lyricism in this book. It reminded me of "In The Skin Of The Lion", but just for the falling visual and beautiful prose. I'm new to the site and still trying to figure out how to write reviews, but all I can offer is, "I like this!" I liked your word choice and many of your scenes are very visual and would transfer onto film well.

Doug Thurston wrote 1003 days ago

This review may very well take all summer. To give it the proper reciprical attention to detail your own reviews engender requires a bit more focus than I've been able than dedicate to this site and recreational reading in general. Nonetheless, here goes.
First off, the one simple criticism I can offer you: I am not one to generally note a person's typo's, but since you are so close to the editor's desk, a little proof reading is in order. Being from the states, I'm not exactly well versed in the cockney vernacular, so I don't always know what's intended or not, but at least in one case in the first chapter, I believe you wrote "draw" when you meant "drawer". I don't know much about book publishing- quite frankly, I don't know a damn thing- but from what I've read, editors HATE typos.
Now, on to the good stuff. And lots of it abounds here. I liked the switch in perspectives between Emma and Tom in the first two chapters and hope to see more of it later on. (Is Orlando you're real name or perhaps a sly reference to Virginia Woofe? Hmmm.) Now, the fascination with swifts is something I can understand and appreciate. A widespread and common bird, sort of like the humans of the air, though sadly in decline. Unlike humans. In China, they plant their rice according to their arrival. In Thailand, their nests are considered a delicacy. Small, graceful and beautiful. The complete antithesis to the jumbo jet flying through the sky over Kew Gardens. Tom likes Swifts, hates jumbo jets. I like Tom already. An artist who sees the monkey puzzle tree as an analogy for life. Has no interest in monetary gain, just a simple love of life enjoyed in a simple way. Put a brick throught the window of a McDonalds. (New jingle: "You deserve a brick today... at McDonalds) His interactions with Parker show an absolute disgust for petty authoritarian figures. Yep, Tom just keeps getting better and better. A gentle commentary on human nature as humans lose touch day by day with nature. Well done.
Will be back for more.
Doug Thurston
VOODOO INFERNO

silvachilla wrote 1010 days ago

Hi Orlando,

This is a nice story. I like the savants element, it reminds me of a film I saw - I wish I could remember the name if it. Really nice opening, I've never been to Kew Gardens, but you've painted your imagery well, so I feel I can see it in my minds eye as I read. A couple of typos - 'Afghanistan. A. Blair's' - wasn't sure if that was meaning Anthony Blair? The A had me at a bit of a loss. And the 2nd to last paragraph - 'I seriously though[t] he was insane. I also liked the nicknames - Action Man made me laugh.

After the easy, almost soothing, tone of the opening, I'm assaulted in the next chapter. I love the switch as you come in from Tom/Leonardo's point of view. The one way conversation is written very well, and the questions and cut sentences leave me feeling quite flustered. Stumbled on 'blinded their iPhone apps' - you need a 'by' after the 'blinded'. The description of himself as a flawed weed was beautiful. The sentence 'Tell me feel you know through that lens of yours' - stumbled over this too, but I can't see where the missing/wrong word is.

I really liked this, and can see why it's at the rank it is. Beautifully written and poetic. Highly starred, and hopefully backed if I can find some space.

Silva
x

Green H wrote 1010 days ago

you have such a way with words. the way you describe nature is just so beautiful and that reminded me of your comment you gave to me about how i described 'the night'.... making me also just say that you yourself is just as passionate about your writing and describes everything so beautifully. At one point i was having this thought/feeling/idea of an old shakespeare play. And also you just put the reader right into your story, making them be there in the moment.

good luck and once again thank you for all your beautiful comments
green h

Green H wrote 1010 days ago

you have such a way with words. the way you describe nature is just so beautiful and that reminded me of your comment you gave to me about how i described 'the night'.... making me also just say that you yourself is just as passionate about your writing and describes everything so beautifully. At one point i was having this thought/feeling/idea of an old shakespeare play. And also you just put the reader right into your story, making them be there in the moment.

good luck and once again thank you for all your beautiful comments
green h

andrewmcewan wrote 1012 days ago

LF40. I really wanted to like this and in a way I did as you write with a stubborn disregard for convention. That said I found the first chapter italics a real obstacle. Thereafter the war photographer (name?) character becomes largely anonymous and the narrative is mosttly constructed of thoughts. Everybody has thoughts, but they're a process, not an end in themselves and at times chapter two felt interminable. The conflict with Parker is great and works well but the longueurs ruined it for me. Harsh, but the narrative seems overly self-indulgent, like you've stretched a great short story into distended novella. I enjoyed some of the imagery and language but there was just too much of it. I'd slash and burn. Then again reading others' comments there appears to be a lot of love for Swifts, so you can safely disregard my tuppence worth.

Giulietta Maria wrote 1016 days ago

A clever idea to write Leonardo's side of the conversation! This flows nicely, and natural scenes are worked nicely into the scenes. I enjoyed it.

Margaret Woodward wrote 1017 days ago

You are absolutely right to describe this as a novella, and a beautiful, delicately balanced one at that, intimate, intensely moving and near to perfection in its construction. I have always been drawn to the formal and traditional Rahmen Geschichte format, a story within a frame which you have drawn so well while filling it with unexpected shocks and conflicts, still holding back enough of the twists so that you can surprise your reader even at the end. This is poetic enough to carry a work of (a mere) 40k words in a publication of its own - and wouldn't it be lovely to include some pencil drawings? Of swifts at the very least and possibly of the characters as well. Illustrations in books for adults are rare, even frowned on, but why not? I shall star this very highly and shelve very soon. (Oh my, how my shelf is becoming congested with good books!)

May I suggest, though, that you need to proof read once more. You write so well that there were occasions when my mind filled in the missing word (usually a two letter word like 'to') which had been omitted but it was a bit more noticeable when you wrote them instead of then. Usually it is the first couple of chapters which are the most highly polished, presumably because the writers on this site expect that to be what people will read, with later chapters containing a higher proportion of typos. You have done it the other way round. Ch 1 is okay, but 2 and 3 have a number of tiny slips. - This may be my reading of it, and that by Ch 4 I have been so completely hooked by the telling, and so used to the way the Swift Man speaks that I am more accepting, or less noticing. But my overall impression was that these two chapters, which I recognise is an easing of the reader into an ever darkening tale, gently, gently, felt weaker than the rest. Maybe you are being just too gentle? Not by much, but it might be worth another look.

Editing and proof-reading are the most difficult parts of writing, especially if you find it difficult to shut off your emotions - or try to do them together. First, do an edit with them switched on. Ask yourself whether you have instilled the scenes with exactly the amount of emotion that your reader should feel - remembering that you have one shot to grip him/her. Then switch to the cold, clinical side and look at every word and phrase to ensure that you are not putting anything in the way of the reader's comprehension of that emotion. Several times I reread some of the Swift Man's words and realised the second time round that they did not mean what I had at first thought. A novella, especially one of this quality, is much nearer to a short story, or even poetry, than to a novel where you can get away with the odd sprawl. Every word deserves to be delicately chosen and fitted into a space that is just right for it. You manage it again and again, wonderful stuff, but not quite always.

I wish you every success with this lovely work.

Margaret Woodward : Kilbaddy.

JennyWren wrote 1029 days ago

I’m not looking for grammatical mistakes or typos. I read at least one bestseller a week and they all have errors. What I am concerned with is good writing. And yours did not disappoint me.
Here is an extraordinary imagination, blended with detail, drama and poetry so beautifully developed. This is the kind of story where it is actually possible for the reader to live within it. (Made me want to pay a visit to Kew Gardens…) No wasted words here. Great character development. You have set the bar and re-defined great writing for the rest of us.
Read this one slowly and carefully – you will not want it to end.

CarolinaAl wrote 1034 days ago

I read your first two Autonomy chapters six months ago. I read your third Authonomy chapter today.

General comments: A captivating chapter. A fascinating main character. Lyrical, thought-provoking narrative. Great word play. Clever wit. Vivid imagery. Not much tension in this chapter until the dog-kicking scene. Leisurely pacing.

Specific comments on the third Authonomy chapter:
1) 'Suck the marrow from life' is cliche. Consider writing the same idea, but in a fresh way.
2) ' ... when the air's still streaked with the odd cloud but wonderfully clear?' Replace the question mark with a period.
3) ' ... not that I'm a stranger to hate.' No need to start the sentence with an ellipsis ( ...). Also, capitalize 'not.' There are many more cases of starting sentences with an ellipsis.
4) ' ... to which I am now happily enslaved ... ... that and drawing ... never stop that.' No need to use two ellipses one right after another. Using two successive ellipses is unusual and pulls the reader out of your story while they try to determine what you mean to imply with two successive ellipses. You don't want that.
5) 'Though thought teaches you can't live in thought alone. ... must lead somewhere.' Remove the period after 'alone.' A period is a full stop. An ellipsis is hesitation. It's one or the other. Not both. There are more cases of a period followed immediately by an ellipsis.
6) 'Perhaps you'll shoe me your photos one day.' 'Shoe' should be 'show.'
7) ' ... thought they did numb the misery of my childhood.' 'Thought' should be 'though.'
8) Capitalize 'internet.'
9) "Sorry miss, but some things have to be said." Comma after 'sorry.' When you address someone in dialogue, offset their name or title with commas. There are more cases where you address someone in dialogue, but didn't offset their name or title with commas.
10) Hyphenate 'knife like.'
11) 'That's when I saw her, the woman that walks by every morning, ... ' 'That' should be 'who.' Use 'that' for objects. Use 'who' for people.
12) ' ... the deep ugliness that pocks the dark side of our sprit.' 'Sprit' should be 'spirit.'
13) 'Still I do nothing, thought the woman's eyes find mine ... ' 'Thought' should be 'though.'
14) 'I feel sick.' Try to avoid using the word 'feel.' Just describe the feeling so vividly the reader will experience the sickness along with the narrator. When you do this, the reader will be drawn deeper into your story.
15) 'Nice one dad.' Comma after 'one.' When you address someone in thought/dialogue, offset their name or title with a comma. Also, capitalize 'dad.' In this context, 'dad' is a proper noun. Proper nouns are capitalized.

I hope this critique helps you further polish this chapter. These are just my opinions. Use what works for you and discard the rest.

Woud you please take a look at "Savannah Fire" and keep it in mind when you next reshuffle your bookshelf?

Have a fabulous day.

Al

Amy Craig Beasley wrote 1040 days ago

Piti, piti, wazo fe nich li. ~ A Haitian Proverb
Little by little the bird builds its nest.

With poetic cadence and a steady tone, RJ Askew in his short novel Watching Swifts has carefully constructed a story that nest-like is sure to be the very place from which new life emerges.

Intertwined with modern themes, threads of naturalism glimmer in this romantic memoir-like tale about two people in the midst of others one summer in London. Tilting at times into almost rap-like beat, the post post modernist poet-working-prose format helps to develop the character. In his intimate and at times intense voice, a sort-of marrow of life is revealed. Most of the action takes place in the safe confines of Kew Botanical Gardens, a slower and greener space (yet not without its dangers) set apart from the larger regions of the austere industrialized city. Conflicts (man against man/ man against nature) lead to relevant questions: How does one live in a world when so much hate and so little regard to those aspects of life once called sacred (such as innocence, love, beauty) are treated with carelessness and apathy and sometimes outright meanness. Protagonist Tom, Leonardo to some, through meditations on nature, meanderings in art, and conversations with a photographer who is mysteriously taken with him, finds a way to avoid a predetermined role as a malcontent and live his life to its fullest. He slides like the swifts he observes into a “getting the better of himself” mindset. This work becomes Kew Gardens, and the writer “As Kew” has created the nesting place, where the reader, if careful to “look slowly”, can see an aspect of self more clearly and then move on having gained some sort of new insight for the journey ahead called life – Honest, potent and tantalizingly real Watching Swifts has a magical quality that is sure to charm modern readers. 6 stars is not enough for this find.

~ a
The Women Who Fly Kites

KGleeson wrote 1045 days ago

LF40

Your writing is like the swift, it swoops and swirls through the narrative, in a lyrical rhythmic manner that swoops and swirls, touching down briefly to moments in the narrator's past that illuminate the darkness and sadness of his life that hum in a soft undercurrent throughout the novel. The reader sees a man, scarred by his past and initially appearing to have accepted with some contentment his place selling ice cream in Kew Gardens while free to watch the acrobatic grace of the brief summer visit of the swifts. He is a watcher of life, valuing the larger picture of the sky's broad expanse beside the small and delicate detail of the flower petal. He's not blind, he sees beyond the mundane details of the placement of a rubbish bin, but yet can't help but change its position if only to challenge the ugly man Parker. Is he trying to open his eyes? Is he truly compassionate and a lover of mankind? We see eventually that the pain sustained in youth at the hands of his father's infedelities and perhaps other issues that our narrator still has wounds. Wounds that Parker opens with some deftness. But can this woman he draws redeem him? Can this swift's dance he begins with her provide him to some kind flight path upwards to a real contentment and bliss?

There are so many phrases here that are beautifully crafted and evoke the very nature of a swift's flight. Swifts are amazing to watch and I've often sat (weather permitting) outside and watched them fly around the valley meadows when they arrive in May (feckin midges in June don't always allow). Sentences like "two petals falling, the nature of love in the love of nature" to me strike the rhythm of the swift as does "Are we a journey, distraction's s distraction each a wing of some wild versing bird."

Amid such flawless, well crafted writing there were only a few things that I pondered about. I still am not sure about "frotting," something they were doing in the lounge chair. It's not a word I've ever come across and I felt it wasn't a kind of slang. The other little nit I thought to mention is that in Chap. 2 you have that lovely, evocative word "yaw," twice in close succession (I think in the same paragraph). With a distinctive word like that it seems to me would need only one mention. I also did wonder that you chose not to show Parker actually cracking the narrator with his mention of the narrator's parents. It's such an important dramatic point, but thought that perhaps you were suggesting that the narrator was trying not to make a big thing of it. Still, he does say Parker "cracked" him which is strong and to me suggests that he is making a big thing of it. That aside, I have great admiration for this wonderful beautifully constructed prose. Kristin

Jay Adiyarath wrote 1049 days ago

Hi,

This is the best reason for me to continue patronising this site in spite of my urge to close shop. There's so much talent here and it's free! It is difficult to walk into a bookstore and experience the magic of words that the story of the Swift Man throws up - it's more poetry than prose, short and sweet, tantalizing my imagination and transporting me into a bewitching world of love, life and death.

Thank you for the read! It will grace the ED in no time and soon grace real bookshelves.

I have starred it highly and placed it on my WL only until a slot opens up on my BS.

All the best

Jay Adiyarath
EXPIRY DATE

monicque wrote 1049 days ago

HI Orlando!!
I'm here reading Watching Swifts. It's very different, which is good, and it's easy to read. And yeah, I'm wondering why your life would change after meeting hte savant.
Okay, so, what is posted as chap 1 is like a prologue?
The writing in the prologue is really good. There's nothing grammatical or jarring that I would say that you'd have to change in that sense. The writing is easy to read and follow. In the first chapter (posted as 2 on authonomy), I think the writing is again great, but by that stage... I think that what I'm wondering is "what is the main characters goal"? What's their ambition? And you've said that you changed by meeting the savant, but this is not explained. What actually happened? We want the details!! There's a sense that you know things that you are purposely not telling the reader. I find a lot of writers do this, in the hope that they will keep the suspense up, (and I used to do it also) but this isn't exactly the method that novelists use to keep suspense up. I read through what is posted here as chap 1 and 2, and I think that you have a great deal of 'telling' in your work, rather than 'showing'. You do the telling really well, so maybe people haven't pointed it out to you, because your 'telling' is great. But I think you need to even out the balance a lot more, and 'show' us what happened. I would suggested that in the first chapter, you "show" us what happened with the savant (the meeting), then let us 'work out' what has changed in your life because of that meeting. Don't 'tell' us that you changed.. 'show us' by having the MC react in one way at the start of the book, and having them think and react differently at the end of the book. In this way, you keep up the suspense, because we're wondering how that meeting would affect you. Also, when you start to 'show' us what happened, you will be able to remove a lot of backstory. Backstory certainly has it's place, but it shouldn't overshadow the actual story. Show us what's happening now... rather than telling us what happened in the past.
The other thing is that, I love the poem in your long pitch, but maybe it would be better to actually tell us the main plot points of the book in that section, and then start the book with the poem!!
All up though, great work, thanks for sharing!!!!!!!! And I'll rate you pretty well, cause the writing was so clean and readable, and I don't think I saw any adverbs!! :)
Thanks
Monicque.

mirnian wrote 1055 days ago

wow. What tremendous poetry is in your words. I was truly mesmerized by the flow and the imagery. Personally, I love stream of consciousness, if it's done right(I know many people don't). This is definitely done right. What's amazing is that even though there isn't necessarily any linearity to the characterization of either Swift Man or the photographer, every image, every thought in some way adds to the complexity and the humanity of these characters. I love it. Will definitely continue to read.

SRFire wrote 1065 days ago

You certainly have your own style which I think would appeal to an audience who enjoy abstract art. The account is impressionistic of scenes and feelings, a bit like a dream, or fragments of memory collated and bundled from looking at the words and thoughts related in a diary. Very nostalgic.
I wish you every success with this work.
Sana

jlbwye wrote 1071 days ago

Swifts.
My final visit...
Ch.6. 'Silver needles threading the sky' - you have a way with words, but I've said that before.
Dont you mean 'those you thought dead' in the third paragraph.
And you dont need the 's after that ... why Billy's so happy.
With Jason - surely you mean 'you might be ready'.
Is it me, or does the quality of your writing fade somewhat in this chapter? Perhaps it's because you're talking of negative matters, instead of things you love.
But that paragraph - 'There was a hesitation in him...' is brilliant. So you can do negative, when you're really fired up.
Another brilliant sentence, 'Just a little blade of silence thrust carefully into his craven conscience.' And you've discovered the commendable art of self-restraint. And a little philosophising, and pathos, beautifully felt.
Instead of 'so, so light' - might you just say 'so - so light.' ?
A beautiful end to the chapter.

Ch.7. A vivid description of Parker's fall - I can see it before my very eyes. An excellent chapter and finale, which leaves me breathless with admiration. How can there be another one?

Ch.8. There are tears in my eyes. Ron, you're a genius. Now you need to include the drawings of your swifts, and publish. When you do. please let me know.

Jane. (Breath of Africa).

sunrize604 wrote 1073 days ago

Watching Swifts

R. J. Askew

I can see your book beautifully bound, but tattered, working double shifts in urban coffee houses around the globe. Each day and night your melodious words poured over, discussed, pondered and caressed lovingly, by cerebral coffee imbibed patrons. Lovely work. Awash with stars.

Caroline Hartman wrote 1074 days ago

Ron,
I've now read through chapter 4. Watching Swifts hints of wonderful layers and I feel you have a book of poetry here (disguised as prose), a book that reaches deep inside the reader. I'll buy this.
Caroline
Summer Rose

Caroline Hartman wrote 1074 days ago

Ron,
I've now read through chapter 4. Watching Swifts hints of wonderful layers and I feel you have a book of poetry here (disguised as prose), a book that reaches deep inside the reader. I'll buy this.
Caroline
Summer Rose

dreamertothemax wrote 1076 days ago

This is something really special. Full of beautiful boucing, flowing, bubbling poetry.

From the opening where you aren't sure if shot means gun or camera. And the irony of this as she is a war photographer and for her two are so closely related.

The prose flows organically, taking you along in it's stream of consciousness with ease and grace. It is almost as if you come in and out of dream and paying attention, some things spark memories and thoughts of your own sending you into your own spirals of thought - and then you are snapped back by a piece of dialogue or movement.

There are so many lovely turns of phrase, ways of looking at the world. I started noting them and then it got too much but here's where I got to:
'with a wistfulness i didn't know was in me'
'You could say I collected him' love it 'twenty first century busy'
'magical sonnets of flight'
'you know where you are in a war zone'
'but moneys not in the business of drawing our hearts to the greatest of riches, those riches being unbankable' - THIS QUOTE IN ITSELF IS GOLD
'hb rescue pencil' complete with teeth marks
'spreadsheet fascists'
'steal a few glinty bits of bliss from life's iron grip' 'she looks like was born to be forty-five'

After reading this I googled 'swift' and of course lots came up about bank transfers which i felt was deliciously ironic - everything the swift man seems to stand against. Something about him reminded me so much of my dad - the person that looks at life's unbankable pleasures. And I am the person who smiles so much it unnerves people - so I felt connected to this.

There was only oooone thing that stood out, when he's talking about Luigi's sex-capades he says 'boob' which doesn't feel right at all. I think go with breast. Is it weird that I noticed that, or even had an opinion on that? Boob just seems to young sounding for someone so wise.

Anyway,
backed without question.
Leila
Life Is Not A Love Song

Andi Brown wrote 1077 days ago

Lyrical and lovely. One of the better pieces of wriitng I've seen on this site. It's really quite haunting. This is a piece of longing, poetry and ideas. You've done very well. Kudos!
Andi

Lindsey J wrote 1079 days ago

This is one of those stories that when you come to the end you are reluctant to close the book. You just go Ahhhhh.... It wouldn't be put in the box for the car boot sale or sent to the charity shop. It could be passed on, tho reluctantly, as you would always want it back. Maybe you would keep it for yourself and just buy one for your friends. The last chapter had the sensibilities as if written by a woman. It encompassed completely the thoughts and feelings you tried to capture and worded so well. Love the lines about "death being lost without life", and you have a bit of fun with words "unsatnavigable. " Huh. In th e end the image on the cover comes into its own also, and made more appealing.
Lindsey J. Carden To Paint a White Horse.

Benjamin Gorman wrote 1081 days ago

The strength of your prose is both in the lyrical twists of phrase and in the reliance on a conversational rhythm. They do conflict sometimes though, when people say things that are too perfect to sound natural. Still, it's fun just to be in the presence of these characters. I actually found myself wanting more of you photographer. Consider putting in more of her asides to give the plot a bit more structure; when she is writing it allows you to take full advantage of your gifts because she is writing rather than speaking. I'd like more about how this summer is juxtaposed against her work. I don't know if you want to bog the story down in any particular war, but their love in the context of the war and death she captures is a very cool mixture. You can afford to add more (almost nothing this short gets published, as I understand it, except within collections) so give me more of her. Perhaps her relationship with Toby is strained by her absence during this same summer? Perhaps it's actually progressing, which could increase her sense of being conflicted?

Please don't take any of these suggestions to mean that I didn't thoroughly enjoy the book. I really think you have something here, and your choice to stick with his single side of a conversation is bold and effective. I've backed it, and I hope it gets in front of lots of eyeballs. Nicely done!

Benjamin Gorman wrote 1083 days ago

First, yea for poetry! So much quicker to read and give feedback.

I read it a few times. The first time, I found the wordplay in the first stanza a bit too cute. You really earn it in the second. I particularly like the way you play with verbs as nouns and vice versa. Those lines are the strongest. I'm still not sure about "in your in sight," and I find the word "besong" a bit too clunky for the rest of it, in which more natural language is twisting and turning in interesting ways. I know you'd have to play with the syllables, but how about using "wrong" since it can be a verb or noun?

The rhyme scheme was a particularly good choice. I think a standard Shakespearean sonnet would have been more obvious... and inferior.

All in all, an impressive bit of playfulness. Thanks!

Louis wrote 1089 days ago

Ad altiora! Way to go, Orlando. Don't hold back. Louis.

jlbwye wrote 1090 days ago

Swifts.
Your poetic prose is a delight to dip into. Your writing is a reflection on life as it occurs to you, and life is a series of happenings, seemingly haphazard. But your purpose, presumably is to beread and appreciated.

I'm getting the feeling that perhaps a quickening in the plot is required. I dont mean the little sub-plots, beautifully drawn, of the bin, and the couple with the dog, and the man with his bit on the side. But the main plot, with the photographer.

You're in danger of being dropped, because this is developed - if developed is the right word - too slowly for the impatient minds of modern readers, and agents and publishers, who like to be compelled in by strong vibes early on. And then their voracious hunger for (often vulgar) progression requires to be fed more, and yet more, lest you be discarded to the bin.

It is a natural feeling, in the beginning, to write what one wants to write, especially when one knows that one writes well. I am still learning, at this late stage in my life, that although mydesire is self-fulfilment, my purpose is also to be appreciated. And for this, compromise is necessary and inevitable. Do I make sense?

I wrote this at 4.30 am, after which I finally got to sleep.

I wish you would continue to read BOFA. I miss your spontaeneous reactions which say so much. But I do understand that this site breeds its own imperative distractions.
Jane.

Lindsey J wrote 1092 days ago

Beautiful writing. I know Kew Gardens and i was there again. I saw the swifts and the gardens, the litter bins, the ice cream man.
I'm wary of a man that smile a lot!
I don't know what else to say: is this genious? This is like marmite! Some of it you want to read over and over to get the true sense. Love the "coulding sister". My only stutter was with the "adult" content, and use of the "f" word. Perhaps add to your genre, Ron, that this is adult fiction. Rated highly. Lindsey. J. To Paint a White Horse.

Orlando Furioso wrote 1094 days ago

Your talent is best used in poetry, perhaps. That might work better for this style. I simply can't follow this book.

You’re jumping back and forth between past tense and present tense. Pick one and stick with it. Most novels are in past tense. If you want to recount how this encounter changed your life, it must be in the past tense.

Generally, it’s not a good idea to talk directly to the reader or ask yourself rhetorical questions. There's a lot of repetitive phrases. Overuse of exclamation points.

You describe the conversation with the artist as being important, but you don’t include snippets of the conversation or say what it was about.

If you are serious about selling this, you need to right a pitch that describes your story. The problem is, I’m reading this and I don’t know how I would pitch it. I can’t figure out what the plot is. I get the impression that the photographer is gay and has thing for the artist.

Try writing a collection of poems. That could sell.

Brian



Thankyou for the comment Brian. You make some fair points. And you have helped me nail an uber-metaphysic 14-liner I'd been after.

We all know a neutrino when one wraps its arm around our shoulder and says, step this way to hear what I've been sent to say'.

For your pleasure alone, here be the sauciest of neutrinos all lit and full of universal good humour straight from the Pillars or Creativity. Easy peasy lemon squeezy! Right?


LIT NEUTRINO

Each line of we twin twinkles blue
Sprayed onto passing light we pass
Nutrinos lit arc swags through you
Sheer glintiness reflections hear
You see sadhows which you know true
Yet miss the beating heart in this
There is a universal clue
Made sub-grammatic particals
We pass through your most brillyant new
Intrinsicating all we touch
We win hot lightnings for the few
Who understands how Nature words
Your passing present tenses queue
To be, love beautiful verse works

Orlando FECIT





Brian Bandell wrote 1094 days ago

Your talent is best used in poetry, perhaps. That might work better for this style. I simply can't follow this book.

You’re jumping back and forth between past tense and present tense. Pick one and stick with it. Most novels are in past tense. If you want to recount how this encounter changed your life, it must be in the past tense.

Generally, it’s not a good idea to talk directly to the reader or ask yourself rhetorical questions. There's a lot of repetitive phrases. Overuse of exclamation points.

You describe the conversation with the artist as being important, but you don’t include snippets of the conversation or say what it was about.

If you are serious about selling this, you need to right a pitch that describes your story. The problem is, I’m reading this and I don’t know how I would pitch it. I can’t figure out what the plot is. I get the impression that the photographer is gay and has thing for the artist.

Try writing a collection of poems. That could sell.

Brian

M Morgan wrote 1095 days ago

You're sniffing and I'm weeping. Just read your first chapter and have come to a conclusion. It's not me or you that's mad. Agents, publishers, editors, off their tits. You're first chapter is poetry, you should not be on this site wasting your time with the likes of me, cheat somehow and get to the top, force some idiot to really read what you've got.
Then again, perhaps chapter two is shit. Haven't got that far.
Thanks for your banta, Matty of Gobbeldygook.

Juliusb wrote 1098 days ago

Chptr 1:

“Have you ever met anyone with savant insight … know more about you than you do “, - sensual

“… Yes, I stopped looking at life with my head and started looking with my soul. I was a slave to the tyranny of fact based reality, thought too much” – This is indeed a call to me. I need to change my world views using this perspective, by stopping to look at things with my head. I need to apply this turn-round of thinking to my live if I am to stop living a dramatic life of twists and turns that has characterized my it as you have noticed in my story, “Destined to Triumph”.


I find your story, or more exactly, chptr1 a fabric for enterprising thoughts. More often than not, we spend hours and hours looking at and thinking about things which vanish from our memory as we see and think about them. Just like dreaming and forgetting what one has been dreaming about as one gets out of dream. Yet your story shows that we could enterprise our thoughts that go through out minds into written stories and be able to share our inner most beings as the hero had done. In this way, everyone – simple or wise would have an enterprising story to tell. Bravo. I will proceed on to chptr 2.

Juliusb wrote 1098 days ago

Chptr 1:

“Have you ever met anyone with savant insight … know more about you than you do “, - sensual

“… Yes, I stopped looking at life with my head and started looking with my soul. I was a slave to the tyranny of fact based reality, thought too much” – This is indeed a call to me. I need to change my world views using this perspective, by stopping to look at things with my head. I need to apply this turn-round of thinking to my live if I am to stop living a dramatic life of twists and turns that has characterized my it as you have noticed in my story, “Destined to Triumph”.


I find your story, or more exactly, chptr1 a fabric for enterprising thoughts. More often than not, we spend hours and hours looking at and thinking about things which vanish from our memory as we see and think about them. Just like dreaming and forgetting what one has been dreaming about as one gets out of dream. Yet your story shows that we could enterprise our thoughts that go through out minds into written stories and be able to share our inner most beings as the hero had done. In this way, everyone – simple or wise would have an enterprising story to tell. Bravo. I will proceed on to chptr 2.

Susanna.K.James wrote 1098 days ago

Hiya Orlando

Here is the promised return crit which can also double as a LF40 review - I have only just realised that we are members of the same group. :)

I found your poetic pitch intriguing and was looking forward to reading your novel - it did not disappoint.

It took me a while to settle down into the stream-of-consciousness style of your poetic prose and to get a fix on your two main characters but it was well worth the effort. I was delighted when you blew my preconceptions apart and your war-weary photographer turned out to be a woman. I laughed at my own foolishness when Leonardo the Italian admitted that he was merely an 'honourary Italian' - thus explaining his lack of any accent inflexions or dialect. At this point I settled back to enjoy whatever you revealed with a completely open mind - and I was not disappointed.

Many of your other reviewers have commented on the pace, rhythm and imagery of your poetic writing. Your use of imagery is truly marvelous: 'a sky full of Ariel plankton.' The 'flawed weed who would become a flower.' Although, the daggers imagery for the monkey puzzle tree was delightful the first time I read it - it became a little overdone when Leonardo later repeated it twice.

For me 'Watching Swifts' is a Dramatic Monologue, in the best tradition of Browning. Slowly, carefully, bit by bit, the character of the speaker is revealed to the listener; Leonardo the ice cream seller is a poet and philosopher, a drug using university drop out, an artist, an ornithological obsessive and an ex-con. But not only was his life gradually spreading out before us on that brilliant sunny day, but so were the lives of Luigi the voyeur, Billy and his mistress the sultry Isabel, the woman with the small child and the suicidal Jason. Beautifully done.

I had a bit of a problem with the anti-American comment about how they bring don't regulate their children's TV watching, and it seemed strangely judgemental and at odds with Leonardo's vision and open mindedness. (It will also alienate your trans-Atlantic readers should you ever get published.)

Another nitpick was the punctuation - there are many missing capital letters - especially after an elipses. However, that is nothing which a good editor could not sort out.

I would recommend a final thorough edit to remove anything which could be accused of rambling (particularly in the prologue which seemed to go on for a while longer than necessary) but otherwise I wish you all the best with this, Orlando. I am sure it will do well - a very enjoyable read.

I will scatter some stars and back tomorrow when I have shelf space available.

Susanna
'Catching the Eagle'

Billie Storm wrote 1104 days ago

LF40 Review

Watching Swifts, by R. J. Askew


This review has become unintentionally long. Hope there are some points of value; written as found, hence brackets.

If you'd kept this as a poem, prosody, it would've been easier for me to read.
As it is, this is the deliriums, a person, whose rapid thoughts spill onto the page: irritating, hyper perceptive, a savant on truth drugs. Persistently clever, making the point, but where does it point to?

There are some spot on moments, the rescue pencils, the glancing view of other views, but the pretentiousness, the omniscience, is too Camden for me.
The trouble with these invitations from narcissists is they don’t notice you’ve arrived, let alone when you leave.

Beauty is breath to you. Subsumed by your own descriptions, almost as if you are jealous of the gulf of separateness and, overwhelmed, you have to match it with words, disfigure it.
I have no idea where this is going, or if indeed it needs to go anywhere at all.

Chapter 2: the opening got on my tits. 'Welcome back', indeed. we've been queuing up. 'Disengage your intellect.' What so we can marvel, daft, at yours?
I was never quite sure who was speaking. The man in the ice-cream van, who was actually not that different from the other voice, or the watcher of the man rather than the watcher of swifts/clouds, (he seemed later on to make a good comment about projection, as above so below style, seeing what you want etc). I stopped trying to fathom it at that stage.

‘Little brackets around your mouth’ is nice. Are you an artist? Do you draw? I wouldn’t say that, they wouldn’t occur to me as something that was apart from the face I was drawing. But it’s a good line, (as it were) Leonardo, indeed.

Then there’s a bit of a quarrel with yourself (,) Mr. Parker. (Stick a comma before the (,) Mr., or when addressing, my dear, darling.
Turbulent, the voice becomes retrospective and vulnerable in memory, when he’s been an egocentric prick for pages, (actually these huge child egos generally are . . . childish). I was grateful for the outside impinging on him for a while. The dog death was good and realistic and horrid. Then the voice searches for parallels in the past, except it was another voice, which had a reflecting dimension. It lacked the infuriating: - I understand everything about you because you see yourself in everything I do - in fact I am you - tone.
The trouble is, I don’t like him and don’t care, and I’m not surprised he killed someone. And even if it wasn’t provoked or in self-defence, he’d find a way to get everyone on his side anyway; he’s that sort.

3: ‘another new phone?’ Sarky bugger. Oh isn’t he superior?
Now let’s have a look: Young blue skies, yes, very good. Lots of it is, but you know that. Then Mummy Catarina writes, which serves to reinforce his attractiveness/magnetism. She’s needy. I can’t imagine what she would want from Ice-Cream man, because she’s headed for the victim department:
Repeating mistakes with aerosols; going down.

Monkey Puzzle, right. Then the gooseberry tart tries to steal her thunder by claiming Mrs Fenwick’s (good sportswear shop, years ago, tho), girlie’s poor doggie as part of his remembering of all those nasty men, and him just hitting on books, hey.

Guess what? You don’t mind the discursive and I’m enjoying writing this review so much, your book must have worked. But please do not introduce an element of psychology and reasoning with a romance psychopath, they don’t have that facility.

‘The words unseat their rider.’ Yummy, but eh?
‘Rainbow fixed in my soul forever’, oh dear = Just before he kills her, or anybody ‘your pleading will be fixed in my soul forever.’ In fact, that section is a bit daft altogether, squeezing hands and stuff.

Dialogue twixt voice and Mr. Parker is bitchy and irksome. Do they fancy each other, or summat? And egotists are notoriously difficult to insult.
Tend to feel this is more of the Peacock feather display, rather than getting to know either character.
Witty, clever and often elegant, but so are the public practitioners of Tai Chi in Battersea Park, on a Sunday, by the railings, so everyone on the number 19 can see them. And how annoying are they?

Onwards to 4 and then 5
You refer to swifts. I think really as an objective, a focus, it could really be anything.
I’ve looked at the last chap, having no staying power for a full view of the intervening, altho as I’ve Magspied past, noticed some jewels there.

8: Bathos. You have become us. Is this what they call a coder? Why did you end with this humility, this wistfulness at the ego that wouldn’t land? It is all done by mirrors, of course.

Overall: a palimpsest, layers on layer of consciousness, of dialogue of meaning struggling to rise.
To me this is a soliloquy (?) a monologue, pierced by other voices that either admire or sheepishly upbraid. Like a bad liar who introduces other, specious elements in order to convince himself - a conversation with himself in order to convince.

The writing: very lovely, fabulous descriptions at times. But these were drowned in pomposity, I felt.
I said first off, that this would be best as one long poem, and that still stands. For this reader, it seems as if I’m being patronised, treated as someone who has never considered any of the things within. It can feel a little adolescent because of that.

I don’t sense the beauty of the prose is clothing the characters, or t'other way around. They are there purely in order for you to speak thru them. Then speak, naked, as the poet you undoubtedly are.

Best
Billie

RonParker wrote 1104 days ago

Hi R J,

This is a nicely told story and unusual in that from what I've had time to read, it's in second person. Second person is difficult to sustain for a full length story, yet from what I have seen you seem to do it very well.

The only cirit I would have is the prologue. If it has to there at all, get rid of the italics. Italics in such a large block are hard on the eye.

As you will gather, I'm not a fan of prologues, anyway. Many readers just skip them and, therefore, the writing is wasted. If the information can be put in the body of a story, that's where it should be. There are exceptions when a prologue is necessary and is a requirement in some genres, but on the whol;e I would avoid them.

Ron