Book Jacket

 

rank 3034
word count 61351
date submitted 30.12.2010
date updated 09.02.2011
genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction
classification: adult
complete

Walls of Troy

Ryan Schoon

"Walls of Troy" asks the question of what it means to be heroic in modern times. Complex stories within stories unravel the characters' internal lives.

 

Griffith, a student trapped deeply within himself, must come to terms with his misconceptions about his mentor, his lover, and his own misanthropic worldview. Renee, Griffith's lover and a single-mom, must dig deep into herself to come to terms with her ex-husband's, Scott's, manipulations and find a place for a man she hates in the life of their daughter. Sophia, pregnant with Scott's child, must probe the dark history of her long-estranged, deceased father to test the motivations behind a professor's strange offer to support her and her child if she will give up all connections to Troy, the university town of her birth, even as that professor, Eugene, sorts through his oldest, most damaging secrets of his life. In the final chapters, we meet the villain himself, Scott, and must challenge our own beliefs about what it means to be a father, lover, and spouse. Filled with gritting detail and humor, "Walls at Troy" creates a complex narrative that will captivate readers as they, and the author, explore the toll the walls we erect within ourselves will invariably exact.

 
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Kestrelraptorial wrote 354 days ago

Wow . . . it was real sad when Amber thought her mother was going to die of a broken heart. That was a very real six-year-old’s understanding. This story is Sophia trying to understand the lessons from her father, even as he says he’s not all she sees him as, and her husband’s manipulations she’s trying to break from. I can hear a fatigue in her voice, and more hopes for her daughter than for herself.

Walden Carrington wrote 982 days ago

Ryan,
You have an interesting cast of characters in Walls of Troy. I read the part about Renee in the Prelude and was mesmerized by how you convey her psychological state to the reader. I felt great sympathy for her and wondered what had happened to put her into such a disturbed state of mind. It was harrowing and thought-provoking. Writing about people with disturbed psychologies is a special challenge. The reader who wants to vicariously experience things in a work of fiction could be easily turned away by such character portrayals, but this narrative presents them in an intriguing way which draws the reader into the story.

Walden Carrington
Titanic: Rose Dawson's Story

Helianthus wrote 1014 days ago

We are rarely the men and women we think we are supposed to be.

There are very wonderful moments in here and some poetic use of language. These people feel very real. (There are also a number of rather peculiar spellings throughout, which I think have already been touched upon.)

Odd spellings aside, it's worth reading all the way through. My favorite parts are hard to isolate, as this is a circular work with unusual layering. I really liked the occasional use of repetition. (As in the sequence where she stares at the ceiling.) And my cat was startled right off my lap when I gasped at the photo in chapter 5. That one took me totally by surprise. Most of the developments took me by surprise, but that one was a corker.

Who are the heroes of this story? There are no heroes. And I love that.


jjmonaghan wrote 1114 days ago

Ryan…

I read Walls Of Troy with glee - a grin all over my face, from the opening paragraph onwards. This is quite simply an amazing opening.

The opening sequence of the prelude - Renee’s - is a joy to read - and in places, absolutely stunning. You open Renee up and expose her to the reader in ways so vivid, that some might find it embarrassing, but even they won’t deny what a talent you have for descriptive character portrayal - not even portrayal - this is character dissection with a sharp, expertly used precision instrument.

And the change in tense from Renee to Sophia flows like honey.

Sophia’s self-imposed isolation is also beautifully descriptive, and intelligently observant.
I love Sofia’s ’bad books with shiny covers’ monologue - reminds me acutely of this place.

The second part of Renee’s story - the Super, and Mrs Schneider part, was great, but in the beginning, didn’t quite flow as well as the first part - a slight imbalance maybe, but Renee‘s opening was superb, and perhaps you feel its necessary to move on from the beautiful internal dialogue and get into the story. Back on track just about the time Mrs Schneider calls the Super back in again. After this you use Renee’s own compassion to develop an almost touching sympathy for the super within the space a few paragraphs. Brilliant.

Don’t know if this is significant later on, but Renee’s opening (she doesn’t remember anything concrete) (should this be didn’t.)

A few typos (she hadn’t know it then) (Sophia tried, strained ever synapse) (car speed quickly into the night) (even as she feel asleep) (while she her pours the cereal)

-but much less than had watching time pass as a precise instrument carefully marked it. I wasn’t sure about that sentence for some reason - just couldn’t get my head round it. But right after this you put (Clocks and insomniacs are worst enemies.) Brilliant.

A fantastic opening chapter… And … I have a confession to make, Ryan.
I actually read most of the downloaded part of your book a few months back, and made some comments. (I had another book, and was using another name then I might add.) I was impressed then, but with some reservations. There was quite a bit of ambiguity between the tenses at that time if I remember right, and the opening was completely different - felt more like a thriller to be honest. It was purely your writing that held my attention last time.
Now though… This time round… wow… this is much more the polished end product of a truly great piece of American literature. Glad I came back, and can’t wait to read the rest.

JJ

ryanschoon wrote 1129 days ago

Ryan,

I started reading your Opus and thought I would give you my cent and half:

The jewel of the narrative is the lyricism you throw throughout.

The methodical, dedicated description of place and body language whose intent is to create atmosphere and evoke emotion.

Thus the reader is thrown into a world where time seems to stop and we witness the delicate emotional map of your central characters emerge

..... one line a time, the pauses and the wishes....

....the do's and don'ts

....and as they do

.....the grace of the writer shows

Some of my favorites:

"She could not stop....
The entire paragraph is your personal best so far...
why? Because the repetitions build urgency

"her lips were nearly colorless..."
another personal best, this time the methodic surgical like description, filled with lyricism

"every cigarette...
excessive but effective

"Rene felt her lungs swell...."
again very lyrical

"Tonight Sofia..."
good chapter ending...ominous

Some Minor/Minorest/Minormost points:

I would shorten the chapters for, your writing is very lyrical, sometimes approaching poetry,
thus like poetry it needs natural breaks for the reader to swallow the imagery and intensity

"swirling base" "methodical inventory" "soft contours" "immutable eyes" "cares sly holds"
I would cut a bit on the modifiers
Why?
Because when the writer labels, the reader reads ...the label
when he describes...the reader feels
and your writing is designed to evoke...emotions
rather than labels

Let me know if that helps,

Overall, wonderful

david


I have never recieved such a lyrical comment.
And, I know, I write Victorian length chapters. Are they really dead? I get tired of authors assuming I can't sit through a few dozen pages without giving me fifteen breaks.
Personal preference, I know, but read chapter five if you get the chance. Its six scenes running at once, threaded through a long chapter. I don't think I'd get to play the same textual game in smaller chunks of text.

ryanschoon wrote 1129 days ago

Read chapter 2 (3 on here) and am beginning to get a sense of how this all hangs together.
There's no faulting the structure of this chapter. I like the way a character arrives at the end of one scene as a lever to the next. You have two really strong male characters - Eugene is a giant, and Renee's father is a real working class hero. The family dynamics between he and Renee and Amber are totally believable and pulsing with affection and potential. Good sense of place too at Eugene's rooms. Sense of the university in the background.
Thanks so much for the feedback. I'm kind of on autopilot at the moment, but I love checking in and seeing valuable comments that I can use in further revisions.
Mascara massacre... maybe it's Maybeliene?

The same typos as before, with also : rap for wrap, massacre for mascara, (that's a great one), and changing to past tense mid-sentence. Don't think you meant that.

Love the use of third person present throughout -gives a great sense of privilege to be seeing into people's lives. Can't fault this chapter.

Primrose Hill wrote 1131 days ago

Read chapter 2 (3 on here) and am beginning to get a sense of how this all hangs together.
There's no faulting the structure of this chapter. I like the way a character arrives at the end of one scene as a lever to the next. You have two really strong male characters - Eugene is a giant, and Renee's father is a real working class hero. The family dynamics between he and Renee and Amber are totally believable and pulsing with affection and potential. Good sense of place too at Eugene's rooms. Sense of the university in the background.

The same typos as before, with also : rap for wrap, massacre for mascara, (that's a great one), and changing to past tense mid-sentence. Don't think you meant that.

Love the use of third person present throughout -gives a great sense of privilege to be seeing into people's lives. Can't fault this chapter.

Primrose Hill wrote 1134 days ago

Hi Ryan,
Yesterday, I didn't comment on the prelude, because you seemed to have an excellent review and analysis from Winston, and partly because I'm not a fan of prologues or preludes, preferring to begin at the real beginning.

So, chapter one. i was totally engrossed from the off. I loved the characterisation of Troy, the town as character (as in Durrell) the separation of Town and Gown, as evidenced by the buildings. The Block and Da Bloch. it reminded me of Oxford a little, but there, the University preceded 'the town' which is occupied by workers for car industry. I did wonder if it went on unbroken for a bit too long for some readers, but then I found that even at the end of the chapter, i still felt its presence, as if it cast a long shadow forwards through the different scenes.

I love the way you introduce your crazily flawed characters with small sensory details attached, which make them instantly recognisable each time they appear. Hemingway did that. That and the fact you are a talented writer and have faith in your readers means you don't need to introduce each character by name each time you switch POV. I love these switching episodes. The repo man's visit is full of unspoken tension. The car crash is mind-bogglingly good. Renee and her mother, her aunt her father, ex husband, each has a voice, and her daughter has a lot of awkward questions. I was totally engrossed.

In retrospect, I'm not sure how griffith fits in,. except as observer - mediator between Town and Gown, Da Bloch and The Block. he pales a bit by comparison with the others, but maybe it's because he's carrying the weight of playing mediator in terms of style too. His section would benefit from being dramatised like the others instead of carrying on the expository style of the opening, which is ok for describing buildings, but not people.

I guess you know about the typos. quite for quiet, cloths for clothes, forth for fourth (more than once). Can't remember any more.

Anyway it's been on my shelf since yesterday. I moved Ross's Luminous Dark to give you some exposure, because I think this is really good. if you want to get the visibility here that this writing deserves, maybe it would be worth trimming the opening. I see you're a CW tutor yourself, so you're probably familiar with the saying that your story opens at the point where the trouble starts. --- Always. No heroes. And for me, (apart from the fact that I love the town as character), your story begins with the arrival of the repo man. It's hard to think of the beautiful writing that precedes it as 'throat clearing', but that's what my tutor might call it, I fear.

Any way, I found it an engrossing and pleasurable read, and hope I can find time to read more of it. I'd buy it anyway.

curiousturtle wrote 1141 days ago

Ryan,

I started reading your Opus and thought I would give you my cent and half:

The jewel of the narrative is the lyricism you throw throughout.

The methodical, dedicated description of place and body language whose intent is to create atmosphere and evoke emotion.

Thus the reader is thrown into a world where time seems to stop and we witness the delicate emotional map of your central characters emerge

..... one line a time, the pauses and the wishes....

....the do's and don'ts

....and as they do

.....the grace of the writer shows

Some of my favorites:

"She could not stop....
The entire paragraph is your personal best so far...
why? Because the repetitions build urgency

"her lips were nearly colorless..."
another personal best, this time the methodic surgical like description, filled with lyricism

"every cigarette...
excessive but effective

"Rene felt her lungs swell...."
again very lyrical

"Tonight Sofia..."
good chapter ending...ominous

Some Minor/Minorest/Minormost points:

I would shorten the chapters for, your writing is very lyrical, sometimes approaching poetry,
thus like poetry it needs natural breaks for the reader to swallow the imagery and intensity

"swirling base" "methodical inventory" "soft contours" "immutable eyes" "cares sly holds"
I would cut a bit on the modifiers
Why?
Because when the writer labels, the reader reads ...the label
when he describes...the reader feels
and your writing is designed to evoke...emotions
rather than labels

Let me know if that helps,

Overall, wonderful

david

Bradley Wind wrote 1158 days ago

WALLS OF TROY

COVER: its okay...works for Authonomy but after reading some I dont' think it does the book justice. Let me know if I can help out. http://www.authonomy.com/forums/threads/51100/free-book-cover-/

TITLE: hm, I immediately thought Historical Fiction....so I don't know. It's fine I suppose but doesn't really...grab me. sorry!

SHORT PITCH: Too dry! I want the hollywood pull...I want a brief magnetic glimpse that makes me want to read the Long pitch and then the text! yours makes me think...this is going to be dense...sorry...

LONG PITCH: you should break this up into shorter punchier paragraphs. but yes, this needs focus too... heh, don't mean to be tough, just want to help and hope that's obvious but I start to just glaze over reading it...blabla lead to blabla lead to blabla....show me a little of the gritty detail and humor in this pitch.....

TEXT: prelude/prologue - I can see their importance sometimes but I'm shocked at the amount of them I come across in books here and the paucity of them I find in bookstore books. In any case this opener is long - although that really wasn't a problem for me, but modern readers and all that- I know I know you dont care if only a few read this but I pretty much just write what I'm thinking as I think it) ---its a bit to ask of a reader without a...payoff...something more than just a hint at what is at play. You might take a look at this:

http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2010/02/why-prologues-often-dont-work.html

All that aside, I think there is some great poetry/solid writing here.

Renee is crying from a recent trauma, Sophia is smoking and reading and worrying, Renee is visited by concerned neighbor/super -some needed comedic relief- Sophia's Mom breakfast, Sophia's boy friend, Renee at hospital with Mrs.S - reveals he did something to her,
-the blade of grass first frost felt...a bit unnatural for someone who'd been weeping....made me think of that hovering bag video scene in American Beauty...if he's not a poet, I'd ditch it. I mean he wears black and reads and is a teenager so maybe...but well...

"He knew he would always [fell] this way and knew he..." feel?

I loved that her Mom was watching and he saw her after their first kiss...a great scene.

I'm interested in Sam/Scott and how they'll tie but I wonder if I need all that description/character backstory/building to feel this way...to be interested...I wish I ended reading this feeling like "yes, I read all of that and I'm enriched/informed/propelled onward..." and mildly I am but I think some of it could be pared back and I wouldn't worry...is the rest of this going to be so...slightly overdrawn? Please don't listen to me....this is all probably just related to my tastes...I recently finished Drop City by Boyle and thought similarly about some passages...anyway...
I actually enjoyed the prelude a lot. But the start of chapter 1 is of less interest. sorry! Again, i can see how well you can write but it felt a bit unnecessary...heavy handed. sorry. second half picks up and your dialog is especially strong... lunchtime...have to end here.

Best of luck with this Ryan.
-=Bradley

katie78 wrote 1158 days ago

the opening is strong but i felt like it went on too long and got repetitive. it's a very melodramatic sstart when we don't yet know enough about the character or what she's going through to feel connected to her pain.
is there a pov change in the 2nd paragraph? who is 'me'?
try- she would not admit that salted taste was what it was. you don't need to say 'tears' here. we get it. the last line in this paragraph is repetitive.
the dialogue is good and i wonder if you could start with a more active scene or get there faster. the pace is a bit slow for me.

Dedalus wrote 1164 days ago

Ryan Schoon,

Your adept use of language allows you to dwell on a single moment for almost eternity without losing the reader. Without much dialogue you create your characters very well and present to us three dimensional and complicated people. The inherit vices of human nature as well as the virtues are shown with a delicate touch and we find ourselves at times both empathising and trying to distance ourselves from the characters. It really is quite thrilling.

On a slightly negative note there are a number of typos throughout and some of your sentences jarred with me. Thos sentences which I had difficulty with seemed repetitive and at very infrequent moments a sentence seems to have little to do with the one before it. That said your writing has excelled throughout and the narrative voice is as strong as Dickens'.

ryanschoon wrote 1167 days ago

Your story opens at an appropriate moment, a young woman dousing her face with cold water, which marks the disruption of a hypnotically traumatic event that preceded the first line. At the end of chapter one I still don't know what has happened to Renee, but I gather from the language used to illustrate her thoughts that it was rape or a beating (or both). I gather from Chapter One and from your pitch that Scott, the ex-husband, has paid her an unfriendly visit. I wonder if you might give Renee one or two flashing visual memories to allow the reader to determine what has happened. Something broken, perhaps. Something ripped? Readers will be impatient to discover from what tragedy did this scene arise.

I appreciate the effect of your slow, contemplative sentences in the beginning, which seems to slow down time and place the reader into a sort of internal vortex, Renee's mind, where emotions are bound in turmoil, building pressure. You create a sense of boiling, then explosion, then catharsis.

You may consider shortening this segment a bit, and making sure not to carry the effect of slowed time into the primary flow of the story. Real-time scenarios require real-time representation. Avoid too much mediation in lieu of action. Trust in the story's context. For example (from Chapter Two): "Her cell phone bleeps to remind her she has messages. She doesn't check them. She knows who has been calling." I think the passage would be stronger without the last sentence. Let the reader ponder for a moment why she doesn't check the messages. A few sentences later, the phone rings and she recognizes the number and "knows it's not him." Now the scene is more ominous, because just as Renee ignores the messages, so is the reader blinded to their meaning for a moment.

Most stories I've read that undertake the task of telling things from introverted points of view fail to carry a reader along. The reader gets bogged down and turns away for knowing that it's difficult to get very far when you're trudging through a swamp. However, with Walls of Troy, you seem to have command over the story's flow. It picks up tempo when you want it to and slows when you want it to. If readers are put off by the narrative it won't be due to error on your part but to a difference in taste. Personally, I would like to see a slight acceleration in the story, a nice tightening of passages, with over-generous descriptions and allusions omitted, which will display more trust in the reader and will also attract more of them, as the virtue of patience is something that has grown scarce in human minds as of late.

Lastly, I'd like to commend you on your ability to bring life and personality to characters. Mrs. Norris, the delightfully direct widow with a cane, and the anti-social, mumbling superintendent, give the story a heartbeat, a realistic feel, and I find myself capable of becoming immersed in this world.

Tightening is the suggestion I'll leave you with. If this suggestion appeals to you and you decide to make edits accordingly - or if you disagree and would like to discuss your ideas - feel free to send me a message. I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas, especially regarding the story's tone, structure, and pacing.

Overall, I'm impressed with what I'm seeing, will be reading more to get a broader perspective on the material, and will shelve it indefinitely. Good work.

Winston


This is a really well-thought-out comment, and I'm going to have to process it a bit further before acting on it. It will spur revision (i'm sure of that) which is the mark of great commentary. Thanks.

ryanschoon wrote 1167 days ago

A slow, but poetic start. It’s distinctive and at times quite unusual in style with its mixed tenses and apparently random references to “me”. I assume these are intentional? I noted some typos in the opening paragraphs of the Prelude:

“shame marriage” – do you mean sham?

“she could not recall know” – should be “now”

“terrible breathes” – should be “breaths”

“her breathe” – should be breath

and there are others.

In chapter 1, the book within a book is an interesting literary device, but doesn’t necessarily assist the clarity of the text.

This is rich and literary writing, although not an easy read and in places, to me, it still feels a bit like a work in progress. When completely finished and polished, however, it has the potential to be outstanding.

J.S.Watts
A Darker Moon



J.S.--
Thanks so much for the comment. I've gone through and edited for the mistakes you pointed out (an author who acts as his own editor has a fool for a client and an ass for an editor... or is that lawyers?). Either way, thanks for the help.
I've taken a lot of flak for the opening of what is now chapter 2 (and I see where you're coming from). I don't know-- I'm still not willing to give it up. The purpose of the section is to establish Griffith's internal psychology. I hate to compare myself to big whigs (and I'm only comparing intention and not quality), but that's sort of my Faulkner moment in the narrative. Who would think that the beginning of The Sound and the Fury would work? I admit, Griffith's diary is confusing on the first reading (because we trust it as the word of the narrator-- though it is in quotes) but later chapters reveal it to be a flawed perspective.
Maybe that just doesn't come through. Maybe rewriting is in order. But, right now, I like it.
Again, thanks for the comment. Every bit of feedback is appreciated.

Winston Chad Emerson wrote 1168 days ago

Your story opens at an appropriate moment, a young woman dousing her face with cold water, which marks the disruption of a hypnotically traumatic event that preceded the first line. At the end of chapter one I still don't know what has happened to Renee, but I gather from the language used to illustrate her thoughts that it was rape or a beating (or both). I gather from Chapter One and from your pitch that Scott, the ex-husband, has paid her an unfriendly visit. I wonder if you might give Renee one or two flashing visual memories to allow the reader to determine what has happened. Something broken, perhaps. Something ripped? Readers will be impatient to discover from what tragedy did this scene arise.

I appreciate the effect of your slow, contemplative sentences in the beginning, which seems to slow down time and place the reader into a sort of internal vortex, Renee's mind, where emotions are bound in turmoil, building pressure. You create a sense of boiling, then explosion, then catharsis.

You may consider shortening this segment a bit, and making sure not to carry the effect of slowed time into the primary flow of the story. Real-time scenarios require real-time representation. Avoid too much mediation in lieu of action. Trust in the story's context. For example (from Chapter Two): "Her cell phone bleeps to remind her she has messages. She doesn't check them. She knows who has been calling." I think the passage would be stronger without the last sentence. Let the reader ponder for a moment why she doesn't check the messages. A few sentences later, the phone rings and she recognizes the number and "knows it's not him." Now the scene is more ominous, because just as Renee ignores the messages, so is the reader blinded to their meaning for a moment.

Most stories I've read that undertake the task of telling things from introverted points of view fail to carry a reader along. The reader gets bogged down and turns away for knowing that it's difficult to get very far when you're trudging through a swamp. However, with Walls of Troy, you seem to have command over the story's flow. It picks up tempo when you want it to and slows when you want it to. If readers are put off by the narrative it won't be due to error on your part but to a difference in taste. Personally, I would like to see a slight acceleration in the story, a nice tightening of passages, with over-generous descriptions and allusions omitted, which will display more trust in the reader and will also attract more of them, as the virtue of patience is something that has grown scarce in human minds as of late.

Lastly, I'd like to commend you on your ability to bring life and personality to characters. Mrs. Norris, the delightfully direct widow with a cane, and the anti-social, mumbling superintendent, give the story a heartbeat, a realistic feel, and I find myself capable of becoming immersed in this world.

Tightening is the suggestion I'll leave you with. If this suggestion appeals to you and you decide to make edits accordingly - or if you disagree and would like to discuss your ideas - feel free to send me a message. I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas, especially regarding the story's tone, structure, and pacing.

Overall, I'm impressed with what I'm seeing, will be reading more to get a broader perspective on the material, and will shelve it indefinitely. Good work.

Winston

J.S.Watts wrote 1173 days ago

A slow, but poetic start. It’s distinctive and at times quite unusual in style with its mixed tenses and apparently random references to “me”. I assume these are intentional? I noted some typos in the opening paragraphs of the Prelude:

“shame marriage” – do you mean sham?

“she could not recall know” – should be “now”

“terrible breathes” – should be “breaths”

“her breathe” – should be breath

and there are others.

In chapter 1, the book within a book is an interesting literary device, but doesn’t necessarily assist the clarity of the text.

This is rich and literary writing, although not an easy read and in places, to me, it still feels a bit like a work in progress. When completely finished and polished, however, it has the potential to be outstanding.

J.S.Watts
A Darker Moon

Ellie S Lee wrote 1174 days ago

I admire your courage; the changes you have made are fascinating, brave and immediately engaging. It must be difficult to rewrite to the extent that you have, to reject whole swathes of well loved and thought out passages but I do feel that you will attract and retain more readers with your revised version. The Prelude immerses us straight into the characters and story with the (very necessary) explanations and background introduced once we are already hooked.

I guess that the newer section is a work in progress as it still seems a little raw in parts. Interesting that we meet entirely new characters (and with them new action) and several times a ‘me’ - the ‘me’ is intriguing. I think you’ve adapted Chapter 1 well to expand upon Eugene’s role at the meeting and his connection with the bar. Have you changed your pitch too? Looks good.

And the bits I love………

The’ clean, clear, pure’ sequence and great second paragraph.

‘That fixed gaze was her only support.’

And later
‘She held the gaze, held it hard, and they wavered under the weight of their own scrutiny. She was forced to finally look at the tears, to realize the tears: the undeniable, unacceptable tears.’

You’ve done it again, delighted me with your repetitions, this time ‘she did not stir’

I thought ‘Her father is pleased to see her ravenous.’ was very clever.

On a couple of occasions you change tense from past to present which I rather liked but I did wonder if it was intentional (difficult to gauge not having read the smaller changes that you say you’ve made throughout).

I love (and was amused by) the “Well hello there stranger” paragraph and the following one which ends ‘There is nothing commanding or menacing in her tone-- your twenty-four hour fluff channel.’

‘Grace looks away, stares at the cross her husband gave her on their last anniversary. A cross to bear.’ Fantastic.

Best wishes
Ellie

Elwood P wrote 1174 days ago

I read about this on a forum thread and was glad I decided to have a look. I agree almost entirely with the previous review. This is really clever writing and I love how messed up the characters are.

But I diverge from the previous review on two points:

1) Yes, the flawed characters do remind you of Jonathan Franzen but the difference is that Franzen's characters are incredibly annoying for the most part - there were plenty of times reading The Corrections or Strong Motion where I had to put the book down because I just couldn't spend another minute with these people. In Walls of Troy, no matter how screwed up the characters are or how cruelly some of them act (or at east one of them acts) they are still sympathetic, human and have redeeming qualities.

2) I would say ALMOST every character is "fully rounded and vivid". I never really got a full sense of Griffith. Maybe it's because you have the feeling he's the hero yet he features far less than some of the other characters. Maybe some more backstory woul have helped? Just a suggestion though.

I'm glad I found this. One of my best discoveries on the site to date.

ryanschoon wrote 1180 days ago

I've used Ross and Ellie's comments to rewrite my beginning. An entirely new chapter of back story will begin the book. Thanks so much for the feedback you two.

RossClark1981 wrote 1186 days ago

I have the horrible feeling that this comment is going to sound decidedly phoney because I loved almost everything about Walls of Troy. The characterization is so skilled that you feel each person is fully rounded and vivid as soon as you are introduced to them - none more so that Eugene who, in my opinion immedeately announces himself as the star character. And they are superbly flawed and human characters, these. No heroes indeed.

The storytelling itself is intelligent and artful. Each character's tale is deftly interwoven and it all starts coming together perfectly at the end of chapter 6 with Dunn making a reappearence.

Dialogue - yup, brilliant.

I don't know how you'll feel about the comparison but I was strongly put in mind of Jonathan Franzen and Michael Chabon. Franzen for the deeply flawed characters and adventurous story telling, Chabon for the university-town-as-character feel (Mysteries of Pittsburgh and Wonder Boys) and the clever characterisation.

This is highly intelligent, mature and polished writing - which begs the obvious question of why it hasn't already gone further up the charts where it belongs. I think the most obvious response to is that you give the reader a bit of a hump to get over in the opening chapter. As much as I enjoyed the opening story about the town's name I think it acts as a bit of a block to getting into the story at the beginning. Things really kick into gear with Renee and Amber driving to the church (the story about Evelyn there is heart wrenching by the way). I wondered if the opening may be more accessible if you started somewhere around there and work in the story about the town later.

The repo man's dialogue, coming as it does so soon, is also a bit of an obstacle, I think. Just because it's in such short, clipped sentences that it doesn't flow too well for me and this may put off prospective readers who might think it representative of the writing as a whole.

There are quite a few typos. I didn't take notes I'm afraid but I remember 'cloths' instead of 'clothes' in chapter 1, 'massacre' instead of 'mascara' in 2, and 'boats' instead of 'boots' where Griffin is helping out with the snow in the driveway. 'Quite' instead of 'quiet' also occurs a fair few times.

Overall, this is excellent. It's exactly the kind of thing I like reading and I'd definitely buy it. I've got a bit of a waiting list for my shelf but Walls of Troy will certainly get time on there at some stage. In the meantime I think I shall start a forum thread on it. People must be alerted to this.

All the best with it,

Ross

Ellie S Lee wrote 1194 days ago

Strong and skilled writing combined with a subtlety of expression which was a joy to discover. The actual ‘story’ has some clever twists and I would imagine has wide appeal as it works on so many different levels. I just love some of your observations, perceptive and conveyed with the lightest of touches.

I particularly enjoyed:

Chapter One

‘He’s just old enough to bitterly, bitingly know that he doesn’t really belong here.’

‘Blip. Minus fifteen cents. Plus one customer complaint form. Minus one immortal soul.’


Chapter Two

Love the paragraph starting ‘Sophia sits quietly, calmly on the bed..’

‘Every once in a while, when there is nothing else to do and no one is around, her voice still screams his name. ‘ (subtly expressed).

I was amused by Scott’s misunderstanding re: Sophia’s discovery of photos and video.

The conversation with Amber about the apples was very well observed and realistic.

I loved the bar scene with Eugene .

When referring to the drinks you describe ‘ The third, fourth and fifth incarnations. …’ Again, that to me is an example of your subtlety of expression.

'Some secret guilt circles the table as he continues'

'A cloud of daggers follows her out the door '

Chapter Three

Wry amusement reading the opening/magazine section.

Love the ‘while he…’ repetition, very effective.

Chapter Four

'She stares at the ceiling…' sequence – lovely, clever

Chapter Five

'Every feeling she had ever had was forced through thought.'

And the surprise reveal immediately afterwards.

'An honest heart is a confused thing.'

Chapter Six

“But once you’ve lied to yourself, how can you dare be honest with someone else, even the gods?”

'Sophie lies on her back in the uncut, drought-yellowed grass of some nameless hill.' – the whole of that paragraph

Eugene's final assignment, very cleverly devised.

I was intrigued by the ‘Heroes’ theme throughout, and particularly appreciated the way it all binds together in Chapter 6.

You have indeed disturbed the surface as you hoped you might. Great book.

Regards
Ellie



ryanschoon wrote 1200 days ago

Dear Ryan, I love that you said in your profile page, "we write because we will be dead soon" :) - you hit it right on the nail head, for me, having started my memoirs/testimony in '97 at age 57 & totally disabled with lupus that I had since I was 15, as you can read in my profile page, & in Nov. 2009 diligently edited & rewrote for 3 months, then rewrote the whole book chronological the way an editor told me to, so have Book I & II in one volume, now, & put it on Authonomy March 2010, so for 10 months, I have tried to get it to the editor's desk to be chosen in the top 5 & hopefully that will happen the end of January, now that I'm almost dead & can barely sit up. :) I love that you are so intense with your students, pointing them the right way. :) I got tears, as I read your pitch, because it's like the story of my life with 6 abusive husbands (I still have the last one after 18 years & refuse to give up & will die first), as Scott, I have never had a spouse that has been a good father, lover, or spouse, selfish with "me, me, me" complex :( - & as I read in chapter 6 about Griffith, I was hoping he would live happily ever after & was so thankful for Professor Gene taking the time to listen & encourage him. :) Hope you will write a lot more touching books. :) I have read, commented on, & put your book on my watchlist to back when space opens on my bookshelf. :) I have also gold ******-rated your book :) - could you please ****** & back my memoirs/testimony book, in return? :) Thank you from the bottom of my heart. :) Love, Susie :) p.s. every ******-ing moves our books up authonomy's lists, as does backing-more-than-24-hours & the longer on our bookshelves, the more they move up :)
None of the comment is copy/pasted & is written arduously my best from my heart, as I'm sure your book is, too. :)


I'm bothered by this comment. As my profile says, I'm not worried about star ratings-- and exchanging ****** seems a disingenuous way to abuse this system. I'm interested in feedback, and not what's been culled from a quick skim of a few chapters (with the intention of getting to an editor's desk, unless you really did read the 384 books I found the same format, wording, and end line of this comment posted on). If chicanery is the sole quality you intend to be published on, I cannot wish you success. If that is the way Authonomy really works, I cannot wish it success either.
If anyone would like to exchange reads, I'd love to do so. Please don't mention how many stars you have or haven't given me though. Just tell me how I can improve my craft for my next novel.

ryanschoon wrote 1200 days ago

I really like how Sophia and Renee have no idea it is the same Scott, and how you bring the characters together in the bar.


Dramatic irony, my favorite form of character abuse.
I'm working on my next book. Do you think it is more or less valuable to let the reader in on the secrets?

SusieGulick wrote 1200 days ago

Dear Ryan, I love that you said in your profile page, "we write because we will be dead soon" :) - you hit it right on the nail head, for me, having started my memoirs/testimony in '97 at age 57 & totally disabled with lupus that I had since I was 15, as you can read in my profile page, & in Nov. 2009 diligently edited & rewrote for 3 months, then rewrote the whole book chronological the way an editor told me to, so have Book I & II in one volume, now, & put it on Authonomy March 2010, so for 10 months, I have tried to get it to the editor's desk to be chosen in the top 5 & hopefully that will happen the end of January, now that I'm almost dead & can barely sit up. :) I love that you are so intense with your students, pointing them the right way. :) I got tears, as I read your pitch, because it's like the story of my life with 6 abusive husbands (I still have the last one after 18 years & refuse to give up & will die first), as Scott, I have never had a spouse that has been a good father, lover, or spouse, selfish with "me, me, me" complex :( - & as I read in chapter 6 about Griffith, I was hoping he would live happily ever after & was so thankful for Professor Gene taking the time to listen & encourage him. :) Hope you will write a lot more touching books. :) I have read, commented on, & put your book on my watchlist to back when space opens on my bookshelf. :) I have also gold ******-rated your book :) - could you please ****** & back my memoirs/testimony book, in return? :) Thank you from the bottom of my heart. :) Love, Susie :) p.s. every ******-ing moves our books up authonomy's lists, as does backing-more-than-24-hours & the longer on our bookshelves, the more they move up :)
None of the comment is copy/pasted & is written arduously my best from my heart, as I'm sure your book is, too. :)

Jake Rowan wrote 1202 days ago

I really like how Sophia and Renee have no idea it is the same Scott, and how you bring the characters together in the bar.

Jake Rowan wrote 1203 days ago

Enjoyed chapter two as much as the first and have put you on my shelf, planning to read all you have posted and will return with further comments if I have any. Jake

Jake Rowan wrote 1204 days ago

This is rich writing, your observations of life, using the town of Troy with its walled intellectuals and those outside of privilege, resonates. I am sure all readers will recognise aspects of themselves in at least one of your characters. I like how the characters are both seen by others and described by themselves. Chapter one is quite a marathon read, but I did not find my interesting waning. I will read more, before deciding whether to shelve. I do wonder if the lack of 'plot' (or one that is easily discernible) will put off some of readers. Will return with further comments and would really appreciate your opinion on mine. Jake

SusieGulick wrote 1205 days ago

:) I will comment on your book as soon as I have read it - read & commented on 4 days later :)

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