Book Jacket

 

rank 1274
word count 50881
date submitted 17.10.2011
date updated 18.10.2011
genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Young Ad...
classification: moderate
complete

High White Sound

Hannah Herchenbach

A girl runs away from post-9/11 New York to live with a tribe of kids on an island at the end of the world

 

Most people were shocked when Wall Street collapsed, but not Addison Banks – her friends were responsible for it. At nineteen, she had more than most kids ever dream. She escaped the Midwest and set out for a new life in New York City. But the Ivy League held only doctors, bankers and lawyers – not because they wanted to be, but rather because they were too scared to try anything different.

Addison flees in a panic and ends up on a faraway island, where she discovers a band of twenty-something kids carousing on a beach under the watchful eye of a charming rogue named Jack Anodyne. Jack quickly takes Addison under his wing and leads her to their backwards hedonistic paradise in the underground of an abandoned city. But as Addison spends more time with them, she wonders one thing: if these kids are as happy as one could ever be, what happens when you have to leave?

A blend of comedy, social commentary and based on a true story, High White Sound is what would have happened if Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby ran away to an island with Neal Cassady.

 
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tags

fantasy, islands, ivy league, jazz, literary fiction, new york, new zealand

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10 comments

 

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AndrewStevens wrote 977 days ago

I don't read a lot of teen fiction, Hannah but I have to say i enjoyed the opening to HWS. The prose is direct and uncluttered but never dull. Addison's voice feels real and consistent and, even after a couple of chapters, I'm already at ease in her company. There was a hint of her being slightly 'wise beyond her years' but I'm not sure at this stage whether this is a genuine part of her psychological make-up or evidence of the author's hand intruding slightly on the narrative?? I'd have to read on to make up my mind.

The dialogue convinces and helps to add good energy to the scenes (I especially like your use of freestanding dialogue which lends the narrative an immediate, almost filmic quality) The plot feels well thought out and original. In many ways, the novel feels less like YA fiction and more like an adult, mainstream piece of literary fiction which just happens to have a teen narrator. As I say, I don't read much teen fiction but there doesn't seem to be much out there like this. Whether or not this will prove to be an asset or a stumbling block if you decide to try and place this, I have no idea (!!)

Anyway, best of luck and on my shelf. I will read on. Thanks. A

CrazyLadySmall wrote 1004 days ago

Hi Hannah,

I really enjoyed reading this. Your characters are very believable and resonate well with this Literature graduate. I agree with a lot of the previous comments that your dialogue and scenes are very slick, but that it could do with a little editing. I found myself skimming over the paragraphs of author commentary about "what uni kids are like". If you're doing your job well, which I think you are, everything you say in those sections should already be implied by your action, so they're unnecessary. I'd maybe advise looking at each paragraph of "telling" to work out what exactly you want to explain in them and if/why that's not already being explained more engagingly elsewhere.

I hope this helps and good luck with this!

CLS x

Bea.B.Adams wrote 1005 days ago

a BHCG review...

Hello Hannah,

I enjoyed the chunk of "High White Noise" I've read tonight. Thank you for sharing it with all of us. What I lIked best about it is the breezy derision and poignant sentimentality of Addison, the eyes of your novel. Her voice stays wonderfully constant, and becomes something to trust as we navigate the wild changes in her life.

You have a lot of unspoken dialogue: words which are referred to and not actually described. The dialogue you include is quite fluid, especially the hilarious bits from other peoples' conversations. Not including all of it makes me feel that Addison is not really listening. It's like your quick scene changes, which become quite frequent and bewildering as you try to portray the passage of time, they make me feel like I'm not really present with her.

You refer through Addison to a lot of things, mostly social situations and places – things she takes for granted. I like this, because it's a very effective way to include backstory. I wish you'd draw these out a little bit more, for clarity's sake and for fun. I as a reader don't automatically understand things like the Christian wife thing, or that the replacing of support staff means no more live-in servants, for instance. I don't automatically think of student lounges in reference to 'lounge'. More of that Addison derision/sentimentality please?

The grammar and spelling is great. I only have two recommendations. 1) You like sentence fragments a lot. I would suggest the use of semicolons for more of them; they'd go really well with your style. 2) You seem to be favoring 1st person past tense, but there are times when you slide into present tense (e.g. generalities, the first chapter). Please, more consistency?

'Where is this going?' is what I kept asking myself while reading your book. As I've said your voice is very consistent and while I found it reassuring, it also meant that I was suspended in time with Addison. I was swept up in her memories and in her opinions, so that it felt like none of this was really happening. I suppose that this is effective if that is how Addison experienced her last years of university as an observer, but it made it harder for me to really get into your book, unfortunately. I keep being told that something is about to change, and I keep waiting for it to change, but it never felt like anything did: her ennui was unmoved. Her opinions about wealth, the country, and the idiots around her: these rarely were challenged or brought to bear with her actions, and because of this, it's like Addison didn't go anywhere. But, if that immersive attitude is what I'm primarily supposed to get from your work, then you've done really well.

Thanks very much. Keep up the good work! ^_^
– Bea. B. Adams

Jonie M. Julan wrote 1007 days ago

This is a BHCG review

I also like your writing style, but agree with Carlie that beginning with chapter one might be more beneficial. There's already a lot going on for your MC in your first chapter, and your description is powerful. Plus, the prologue seems so far removed from her current situation. I think Addison's personality difference and struggle to find identity are interesting. She is obviously very different from the world she is in. She's innocent, imaginative, and not obsessed with wealth like those around her. Your description and dialogue come off very naturally, which is great.

Back to the prologue...I felt like your style there harkened back to some of the older classics, which might not be what you're trying to do with this type of book. Because Addison is struggling with finding herself and transitioning into a new stage of life, maybe you don't need to use your prologue as a pull.

Thank you for sharing your work. The description and dialogue, like I said, come across to me as very natural. Also, I like that you're dealing with complex themes such a money and identity issues. Those themes ever come across in a natural way. There's no awkwardness. I also like that Addison is a unique main character. You clearly set her apart from the others.

If you have time, please check out my own novel, Leave Me Asking. Best of luck.

Jonie

Carlie wrote 1007 days ago

BHCG

Hello!
I liked your writing, and I enjoyed reading Ch 1. I like particularly the phrasing you use, and the way you play with ideas (like viewing through the champagne).

However, I very nearly didn't read at all. I chose your book because the title appealed to me, but then my brain wouldn't understand your blurb properly, and then your Prologue felt showy and self conscious. Something though, made me flick the screen down and then I saw you could write, after all. So I went back to the start of Ch 1 and began again.

Um, so, to maybe fix these two problems, I think rewrite the blurb, then disappear the Prologue and open with Ch 1 with maybe a date (or a count down, perhaps? 245 days until Lehman Bro collapse...or whatever). ***Or Para 5 as G Cleare suggests***

The blurb - I'm rubbish at writing them, so probably not the best to advise, but maybe concentrate on themes and hooks, rather than potted plot?

I didn't go on to read Ch 2. That's not because I didn't find the characters compelling, nor the description and setting interesting and fresh... it was because of plot. I didn't feel - for all the smart word play and clever lines - I didn't feel like I must read on. I got the girl, I understood her. But her world didn't feel under threat, there didn't seem like there would be any challenges or fights ahead. I'm sure there are (plenty, I imagine), but because there was no foreshadowing, no allusion to change, I didn't feel the need to click to '2'.

More umms...not sure how you can fix this (but you can, because you write well enough). Maybe make some of the dialogue, or internal dialogue, a little more obvious? Make it work a little harder.

And I'm not sure the conceit (literary) with the alcohol quite works - she's interesting and funny already, the alcohol references labour a point too hard. I'd rather hear more of her opinions and acid asides ('Imagine the drudgery').

I'd like to read more, but not until you've gone in there with a knife and murdered a few of your darlings. I agree with G Cleare - in fact, having just reread her review I appear to have laboured the same points (sorry). But as well as echoing the improvements, I also echo her praise: you can write really well. You're talented and captured my attention enough to make me write a crit.

Wish you the best of luck, I would like to read your work again.

Carlie

Sharahzade wrote 1008 days ago

BHCG REVIEW
HIGH WHITE SOUND
Hannah Herchenbach

Chapter One reminds me of the party scene in The Great Gatsby where people like your characters are discussing Jay Gatsby, speculating on him in a similar gossipy way. Methinks you write a bit like F. Scott Fitzgerald. For example:

I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby's house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited--they went there."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Ch. 3

"I've been drunk for about a week now, and I thought it might sober me up to sit in a library."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Ch. 3

I don't know how the rest of your book reads, but in that first chapter one can see you have a flair for Literary Fiction. That scene does go on a bit long but it is indeed so well written that one does not care much. Just sit back and enjoy the sumptuous view of the surroundings.

I hardly know what to say beyond this. I am not a fan of Literary Fiction and seldom read it anymore now that I am out of school. That just means I am not really qualified to say too much and run the risk of inserting my foot in my mouth. However, I do know that with this kind of writing, there merely seems to be a soliloquy characterizing a time and place. There is not so much a real story with beginning, middle and end. Rather, you get a sort of lesson on the very atmosphere where the story takes place and those who inhabit it. I suppose I can go so far as to say I dislike this genre. It implies that all other fiction - genre fiction, in particular - is somehow less literate and less serious.

I read for entertainment. I will read the rest of your work here with the hope that I can find that quality. I certainly saw traces of it in the beginning. Well done, Hannah.

Mary Enck
A King in Time



GCleare wrote 1008 days ago

A BHCG (Brutal Honesty Crit Group) Review - Hannah, you have Big Talent and can turn a phrase inside out and back again better than anyone else I've read on this website. To attain this kind of expertise at your age is a true gift and I predict you'll have a great career as a novelist. I am jealous and so will be most of the other writers who read your work. Your voice is fresh and creative. You seem to effortlessly come up with new ways of saying things without resorting to the use of esoteric words. It's like you are reinventing something here, using the old familiar parts and putting them together in a new way. I love it.

However...and you knew there would be a however...like many writers (myself included) you are in love with the sound of your own voice. What you say is so clever you cannot bear to stop talking. As a result, it rambles. Charmingly, but rambling nonetheless.

You need to get into a seriously brutal mood and cut the heck out of it. Save the stuff you cut and use it another time, because it's all great. The issue is pace. When the reader's eyes start to glaze over and we began to skim, you have gone too far without advancing the plot and you need to move it along. It is very hard to see for oneself where to do this. But the rule of thumb I try to go by is, "If it doesn't add, it subtracts."

This mean, for example, that explaining over and over how all the kids in NYC are too materialistic and only think about their future six-figure incomes, is too many times. No matter how well you do it.. and you DO explain it wonderfully...you need to blend together the best of it and only say it once. Otherwise, it is sheer writer's vanity and it starts to subtract.

Don't forget about the story-telling part of your job. You need to sweep us up and barrel us along and thrust us into the heart of your story, ASAP. But here is the good news. If you cut out all the pretty fluff, pare it down and leave only what cannot be cut without changing the story, you will hone this thing to a fine edge and condense it into a much stronger, more powerful result. The wonderfulness will become even better because we'll be able to focus on a smaller piece of it, which will imply much more in our imaginations. Instead of starting to bore us with too much of a good thing.

I am reminded of how Hemingway learned to write from Gertrude Stein when they were best friends in Paris. He experimented with using a few words over and over, repeatedly, to make them resonate with the energy of the echos..like she did in "rose, is a rose, is a rose, is a rose..." The simplicity is what makes it elegant. Your novel can be that way. It is GORGEOUS. It is just too much of it. I hope this makes sense to you.

I think the way it starts now, there is a strong danger that agents and publishers may never give it the attention it deserves. They are not well known for their patience. If a story seems to be meandering along, no matter how lovely the journey, they give up on it. It is a symptom of today's sound-bite society. We are all about blips nowadays. Tweets. Status updates. Ugh! But that is reality.

So, go back again as an experiment and cut out everything in the first chapter that isn't absolutely indispensable and see what you have left.

Also, what is it with that seal tearing the dress? Sounds like very atypical seal behavior to me. Turned me off in a big way and I wanted to stop reading. Prologues don't have to be a flashback, maybe this one shouldn't be. The main thing is to grab our attention. What you've got now is confusing and boring and way inferior to stuff like what happens in paragraph 5, for example, and in the first chapter.

Maybe it should start with that paragraph 5 "time of innocence when everyone was guilty" phrase right in the first sentence. BANG. Brilliant, right from the jump. You will capture us RIGHT THERE. This is a million-dollar phrase, so why not spotlight it?

Good luck! If you rewrite it let me know, I would love to read it again. ~Gail

Cariad wrote 1013 days ago

I'm here from the YARG group. You were wondering if it was YA enough? Well, I'm not someone who really likes categories, so I say, why not? There are plenty of YA readers who would like this as well as any adult, though perhaps in complexity and the richness of ideas and reference, it may not be exactly on target.

I like this a great deal in some ways - I love the language and the images created, and the whirlwind of life presented. Some lines, for eg: 'back to a time of innocence when everyone was guilty.' are just great. Also loved the 'carnival' through a flute scence - perfectly observed and drawn, loved the Kerouac reference. Dialogue works, characters are intriguing and the first chapter has me wanting more.

Niggles? Hmm... I was a little confused by the prologue - having read that it was based on reality, I wasn't sure about the seal tearing off the dress, or the yellow penguins - but hey, I can roll with that. I think I need to read more than one chapter to get a proper feel for this book, but so far there is a heck of a lot I like.

I'll be back,
Cariad.

schild wrote 1014 days ago

Hannah,
First of all, I couldn't let it go either. I was an idealistic liberal back in my youth. I taught school on the Pagago Indian Reservation outside Tucson, Arizona. My college was surround by mountains locals called happy valley. I never wanted to leave. I never wanted the business world. But here I am: raising a family, working long hours in the business world. Your story reminds me so much of what I was. Your narrative prose are great. Dialogue impeccable. I would put her thoughts, however, in italics. Grammatically correct. Never stumbled once through the read. I can put you on my WL at five stars until I get room on my shelf.
All the best,
David

Scott Toney wrote 1014 days ago

Hannah,

I'm honored to be the first to comment on your work. I've read the first chapter and your pitches and I'm impressed. I love description and when you use it you are right on with amazing imagery. Probably my favorite visual was when you wrote "The smoke slithered between the iron spires of the stairwell..." but there are many instances that were fantastic to read. I like this work because it's timely (with the problems in wallstreet today) and it straddles both fiction and, thus far, the Wallstreet world. This is unique and enjoyable and I'll be back for more. Thanks for the great read! I've rated it 5 stars and am keeping it on my watchlist.

Have a wonderful day!

- Scott, The Ark of Humanity

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