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felixm
September 6th, 2016, 01:09 AM
This is the beginning of a novel wherein I resolve all my past screw-ups and live happily ever after. Your criticisms are welcome!


Uncle Sam's Army got me when I was eighteen because I wasn't in school. That's how it was back then. South East Asia was blowing up, more and more young Americans were being killed in the jungle, and unless you were a college boy, a religious objector or the son of someone who knew someone, you were drafted, taught how to fire a rifle and shipped off as fodder to Viet Nam or some other Hell Hole "to stem the Communist tide" as our leaders put it. A lot of my friends didn't coming back, or came back missing an arm or leg or whacked out on heroin, so I guess things didn't turn out that bad for me.

I was putting some carpet tiles back onto the display shelf at the new mall outside the city when my boss came to tell me that my Mother was here to see. She walked up to me red-eyed and crying, holding a letter, her pill-box purse hanging on her right hand. For all she'd been through the last few months, the crying didn't surprise me. I gave her a hug and took the letter.

I'd taken this shit job just a few weeks earlier, after my girlfriend told me she was pregnant, and here was my Mother with a letter from the draft board telling me, no, ordering me, to report for my physical at 08 hundred hours 4 days from now. To be ready to go to some place in Missouri for Basic Training.

What the fuck was happening? My girlfriend tells me she's pregnant, I get a job to support the little bastard, probably get married, and then I get drafted?

Two weeks later I was off to Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri for Basic and Advanced Infantry training, joining a group of black guys from East St.
Louis and some red necks from the Florida Panhandle.

bdcharles
September 6th, 2016, 10:06 AM
Improve it to what? What do you want it to be that it isn't already?

Bard_Daniel
September 6th, 2016, 08:05 PM
You set a character tone that I like here. So, that's good. But I'm also wondering with how you want to improve it...? What are you looking for?

Nixrp
September 8th, 2016, 03:17 AM
Don't have any criticisms for this, I was really hooked into this though! If it were a full book I would have kept reading!

thepancreas11
September 12th, 2016, 04:52 PM
I don't think you need that first paragraph. It lessens the impact of the letter being delivered and the emotion that your mother feels because you kind of take the suspense of the moment out. I'm also not a big fan of questions in the narrative for the same reason. Basically, you're describing the idea instead of framing it. It's like telling people, "Yeah, so there's this painting of this old Italian lady, and she looks at you wherever you go," instead of showing them a picture of the Mona Lisa. You have the picture right there, and I'd like to see you spend more time on it. You're focused on this incredible news that you're going to be a father, you're starting to come around to the idea of raising it with your girlfriend, you've made peace with getting this sucky goddam job, and all of the sudden, in comes this draft letter sending you off to war. THAT'S HEARTWRENCHING. What are you feeling? How do you look? What do the people around you do? Don't tell us about the war. Tell us about you! You're the beautiful piece of art.

You do have a strong voice, though, and I think that's what really will carry you through everything. I think it might be cool to contrast this "make everything better" piece with what happened in real life in subtle ways, maybe by showing characters that fell down the wrong path or something. That shows the gap between reality and fantasy that you're after. Just a thought. I like this little excerpt, though.

felixm
September 13th, 2016, 10:56 AM
Aha !! Thanks so much. It took me a while to understand your critique, but I re-read the piece and saw the light and immediately started to bang out a new beginning. Show, don't tell. Thanks again.

hghwriting
September 27th, 2016, 08:10 PM
Intriguing piece... Makes me want to read the rest of the story!

felixm
September 27th, 2016, 11:21 PM
Thanks ! Might, no, scratch that, will be awhile until I finish.

Ghouls
October 27th, 2016, 05:49 AM
I would like to read more. Liked the way you are building the character - flawed and intriguing!

lvcabbie
October 27th, 2016, 11:15 PM
Agree about the 1st paragraph. I'd start with your mother showing up at your work with the draft letter and go from there. I'd show the reaction of your new wife. At that point, I'd through in your commentary about Vietnam and would even name someone you knew who'd come home all screwed up. Show us your character and put us into his head with letting us see his mother.

Oops! Thought. Why would his mother be bringing the letter? Why not his wife?

felixm
October 28th, 2016, 04:59 AM
@ivcabble Thank you for your comments. I've been re-writing the whole thing to bring out more character, etc. But part of the story is that "I" am not married, as indicated by "I get a job to support the little bastard, probably get married." Geez, I sound bitter. Thanks so much. And my friends are exactly like those in The Deer Hunter movie: some came back normal, some came back f****d up, and some didn't come back. Please, no more war.

felixm
October 28th, 2016, 05:02 AM
@ Ghouls Thanks very much for reading and being interested. It sure is fun project--hope to post more in the future. Welcome to the Forum!