View Full Version : An Evening Walk [vignette]

February 6th, 2012, 04:46 AM
The wet streets were shining under the gas lamps. Cold air was blowing under a mist-cloaked moon. Along the sidewalk, Albert stepped with leisure, having nowhere to go. With the rain finally ended, he folded his black umbrella and wielded it casually as a cane.

He moved in and out of elm-shadows shifting in the wind, and passed by quiet shops, their eyelids closed for the night. He encountered several solitary strangers walking towards him. He nodded politely, but their solemn faces, still as bas-reliefs in the half-light, showed not a flicker of fondness as they passed him by without any hint of greeting. He may as well have been composed of pure spirit, rather than his own warm flesh, for all the acknowledgment he received of his corporeal presence.

He entered into a more vibrant district, more brightly lit, and with a wide view of the sky in which white wisps of clouds chased swiftly across a blind void. Revelers abounded in the streets, comradery the keynote, enjoyment of good company the evening's occupation.

But that lively neighborhood was shrouded by a growing fog in Albert's dim and weary eyes.

He passed through the midst of the people, like a vapid ghost, unnoticed and unknown. He heard their conversations and their shared laughter. He felt the collective warmth of their gathered humanity.

And finding a vacant side street, he escaped into its shadows as a cold rain began to fall again.

February 6th, 2012, 06:36 AM
I found this to be an interesting read. As a vignette, this story captures the essence of the scene portrayed extremely well. Your phrasing is good, grammar as well, baring omitted commas, but your syntax structure seems a little muddled and confusing at times. The best example of this is the first sentence of the third paragraph. The sentence seems to drag on. To me, this sentence seems just too long. I'm not a good enough writer to suggest a possible solution, so I'll just point it out. One of the other sentences that seemed muddled can really be boiled down to an omission of commas. I refer to the last sentence of the second paragraph. Commas are needed to set apart, "...rather than his own warm flesh..." in my opinion. I would also change the start of that sentence from "The man," to simply He.

Other than what I've already pointed out, I would only add a bit of advice on style. I avoid beginning a sentence with a conjunction. It seems to make a story flow better. Just my opinion though. Overall, very good work. Cheers.

February 6th, 2012, 06:55 AM
In this short short, you've done a little exploring of the flaneur, whose inconspicuousness is drawn solely from his singularity wherever he is. I wonder if you've read anything of Baudelaire? If you have not, I recommend that you investigate the collection of his prose poems titled Paris Spleen, the prose poems of which are often similar to your vignette in form. As for the motif, the subject of the flaneur is among Baudelaire's central motifs. He most carefully explores this motif in his collection of poems, Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil).

As for what I have to say directly about this vignette, all it seems to tell me is that the character does not interact with his environment, and that his environment rather mysteriously exists passively around his subjective experience. Surely, this vignette might keep me interested to find out who this man is, what he is up to, where he is going, and so on, but in its present form this vignette furnishes me an incomplete portrait of a man in an incomplete portrait of a city. I take it, of course, that this is the beginning of some more expansive piece? Though some of the verbs at the beginning are flat, the visuals are enticing, and you've done a fine job of surrounding this character with questions for which the reader will desire answers. Why is there no fondness for this man from the strangers? Is it some fault of the strangers? Of the character? Does it have to do with where he's going, or what he does there? Or where he's coming from? etc...

The Backward OX
February 6th, 2012, 07:26 AM
This is probably interesting for people who like this type of writing.

Here are a few nits that may help you improve:

The lamps don’t need to be described as gas street lamps. We already know they’re on a street. Use simply “gas lamps”.

“Albert strode with leisure” paints a confusing picture. He’s either striding (implying purpose) or strolling (implying leisure).

comradery = camaraderie

February 7th, 2012, 04:45 AM
thanks guys, for the feedback and tips - really helpful
I agreed with much of your input and have adjusted accordingly - additionally, I tried to fix the first sentence of the third paragraph, which I had already tinkered around with a great deal before submitted - I wasn't satisfied with the alternatives I came up with, I'll have to come back to it.

Part of the issue throughout is that this started initially as a moody poem with short lines, then the more it took shape, it became more of a prose poem - then as I read it, it seemed like it might work better simply as prose, so I changed the formatting to paragraphs - I agree that some of the lines are a bit off for a strict prose piece

I found the comments about the "flaneur" to be interesting, I'll have to look into that

also, from what I found "comradery" is one of the two spellings, for which "camaraderie" is the other - comradery fits my taste as it seems connected to "comrade" - the other seems a strange spelling to me, although it is correct - I did almost use it as that is what my Word spell check wanted me to use too : ) until I found that there are more than one correct spellings - maybe you have other thoughts on it

thanks again!

February 7th, 2012, 06:59 AM
It looks like a prose poem with carriage returns. I think you can pretty much do what you like.

Love the avatar. Is that wisp of wide white ribbon in the sky the milky way? As we say in the construction biz: You can’t see it from my house. In fact comma where I live comma Orion doesn’t wear a belt anymore. Is that a dead vine next to the man in the foreground? Interesting.

By the way, what exactly is ‘flaneur?’ My link to Google is broken. I am now helpless. I may have to read an actual work of literature or buy an actual dictionary. Someone help, please.

today the bastardization of english is as necessary as gangsta rap the word must be bent battered and abused to fortify the language for that which does not kill me makes me stronger or something like that

February 8th, 2012, 03:21 AM
Thank God for Frictional, he has introduced me to a new English, err, French word with English usage. I am so glad I read his scrap of fustian. I was overjoyed. I will now go home and bake a flaneur to celebrate.

February 8th, 2012, 03:29 PM
I won't comment on things others have pointed out. Some other things stood out to me: some of your wording suggests to me that perhaps Albert is a spy or assassin on a mission. For example: "mist-cloaked", "elm-shadows", "He passed through the midst of the people, like a vapid ghost, unnoticed and unknown.", "escaped into its shadows", all speak to me of a shadowy character, one that, while seen, does not wish to be.

This - "But that lively neighborhood was shrouded by a growing fog in Albert's dim and weary eyes.", however, seems to be out of place to me. Unless, perhaps you are trying to show us that Albert has grown tired of his occupation?

Then again, I may have missed it entirely. At any rate, I felt this short piece could lead to a deeper story, one that I could get into. Thanks for sharing it!

Best regards


February 11th, 2012, 09:19 PM
I really liked it. I had never heard of a vignette before now.

As others have said, I feel it really could lead on to something longer. I was definitely intrigued by Albert. Why are his eyes dim and weary? I'm not sure if he is just a lonely man, or if he is more sinister?