Chrestomathy
Yet another voice in the cacophony.
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 Oranges   
 Author:  matt
 Dated:  Thursday, August 12 2004 @ 05:21 AM PDT
 Viewed:  1711 times  
FictionThis is the preface to a book I may or may not be working on, depending on my mood.

The question is, despite the lack of editing, would this (just over 3 pages in a paperback) be enough to convince you to you buy the book? I'm just trying to gauge whether or this particular voice is marketable, since it's slightly non-traditional.



She walked into my life while I was standing in produce. Despite her overall attractiveness, it was her eyes...

Ok, first I noticed her ass as she backed a shopping cart out of the stall. It was perfect and held in situ by the tightness of her jeans. Her cheeks stood proudly out from the small of her back and smoothly flowed in and down, finding and effortlessly joining the line of her thighs. To strain the limits of bad writing a little more, witnessing the spectacle of her ass in motion was something like finding a ripe cantaloupe in the desert: firm, round, altogether unexpected and you just know that consuming it would be bliss.

So, right, her eyes. Yes, they were lovely and big and blue, contrasting well with her dark coloration. Her expression carried a certain mirth about it, as if she was in on a private joke or something.

It was about then that I realized that I had been standing in the produce aisle holding an orange at arm's length above the pile for nearly a full minute.

Instantly (ignoring the aforementioned orange-holding limbo), I began to hatch a plan, the early stages of which were quickly worked out. I was going to start by PUTTING... THE ORANGE... INTO... MY BASKET, and follow that right up with a dash of uncharacteristically disarming charm by way of a rueful smile in her general direction (being careful not to make eye contact), a turn to my left, and a beeline made for the bread aisle.

Over the next few minutes, as I gathered together the remnants of my ego and various foodstuffs, I came up with a slightly better plan.

A smooth man would simply ignore the awkward situation as if it had never happened, walk up to her and start talking. An exceptionally smooth man would have found a way to make light of the awkward situation and use it as a common ground to begin a conversation.

He could, for example, ask her if she wanted an orange because he had grabbed one too many, or impishly observe, "At least I wasn't holding a banana." If she seemed receptive to this line of conversation, he could jump right in with something drastic, like asking her name.

All of that would, of course, occur to me as I drove home that afternoon. The plan that I instead made and executed perfectly was to head for the checkout lane, pay for my groceries, and hope that somewhere between the soup aisle (where I had finished concocting this bold incursion) and my vehicle, I'd get a chance to covertly ogle her one more time (which was not to be the case).

About two weeks later, I broke down and got myself a haircut. It may seem a bit odd to most people, but I generally get a haircut about once a year in the spring. This schedule keeps me warm in the winter and lets me drive with the top down all summer. It's a pretty good system overall, because I generally don't give a rat's ass how I look; the only people that usually see me are my coworkers. Back when I was making good money, there was a salon that I'd go to on Newbury Street, but in these leaner times, I figured I'd just hit someplace a little more local and save myself thirty or forty bucks (including parking). I picked a place out of the yellow pages (that's where all the women cringe), and headed over.

I arrived without incident and took a seat in the waiting area. Blue eyes came out of the back carrying a can of mousse and picked up where she had apparently left off with the customer in the second chair. I pretended to read a magazine, and she shot me an occasional look. I could tell she probably recognized me, but I didn't think she remembered where she had seen me.

After a little while, another woman, Amy, came over to me and brought me to the third chair. I gave Amy my usual once a year convertible top wind making my hair whack me in the eyes but I don't want a mullet so just cut it all off story, and she began to work. I've always found the part where the hairdresser washes your hair to be very relaxing, but Amy opted to just start in with the spray bottle and scissors.

A few minutes of furtive mirror-watching later I was freshly shorn, and Amy, about to do some styling, was going to the counter for some product (as she called it). Blue eyes innocuously pipes up that she thinks that with my hair this one particular pomade would work best. Amy grabbed the jar, and went to work again. I quickly noted that the pomade she had used smelled of oranges, and blue eyes had a slight smirk as she worked on her customer and studiously ignored me.

It was at that point that I made it my mission to flirt mercilessly with this woman, but first I needed some remedial training.



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  • An Ostentatious Man.
    Authored by: Dan4th on Friday, August 13 2004 @ 08:37 AM PDT
    I'd like to preface this by saying that this is somewhat of a departure for me, since my normal method of critiquing literature is by getting a couple of #2 pencils, getting them nice and sharp, and jabbing them firmly into my eyes.* This is slightly less painful than expressing an opinion on someone else's writing, in my experience.

    In your introduction to this piece, you say it's a non-traditional voice. I ended up fixating on that statement because the section you've presented has a definite ring of familiarity to it, which I've spent several hours trying to place. I finally realized on the way to work this morning that the reason it seems familiar is because it reminds me of some of my favorite movies: High Fidelity, for example. Fight Club for another. I am ashamed to admit Ive read neither book, so I don't know how the literary style compares.

    Sadly, I think you'd have a lot more marketability if the main character were exactly the same, but female. I don't think a book by a man, about a man, is likely to make Oprah's book club, especially if the author is still alive.

    However, and I'll admit this could well be because I know you, I found the narrator immediately engaging. I keep trying to find ways to use the words "man-child" and "immature" without sounding insulting; it's certainly not the way I mean it. This is not an action hero, nor is it a typical romantic paper doll. I felt like I knew him (which in some ways, I suppose I do) and identified with him, to a delightful degree of emotional squirming. He's brutally honest about his foibles, and the humor makes a convenient way to cover up any actual emotion he may be feeling. I think it would be challenging, as an author, to maintain that voice and still give the emotional intimacy with the character that keeps readers engaged. I found myself on the train this morning wondering what Blue-Eyes' name was, and whether Our Hero™ would ever manage to untangle his tongue enough to actually introduce himself, but I only had to deal with his self-deprecation for 876 words.

    I tripped over a quote this morning that reminded me of myself first, and of the fact that I still needed to comment on this excerpt second:

    "An ostentatious man will rather relate a blunder or an absurdity he has committed, than be debarred from talking of his own dear person."
    -Joseph Addison

    *stolen from Lewis Black.

    Do men read trashy novels?
    Authored by: pamela on Friday, August 13 2004 @ 10:32 AM PDT
    I have a strange memory of being about 10 and finding a trashy smut novel of the "International Spy" variety in my dad's bookshelf - not what one expects when looking for Sci Fi! I learned at that terrible moment that men (including my dad!) read smut too! Somemeen like first person, "conquor the world and its women" novels just like women do! Now comes the question: Do men like to see the world through the eyes of a badly groomed, inarticulate, "wants a piece of ass," anti-hero? Comedy Central's "The Man Show" seems to say yes. I think you may have a market. As for the writing - Figure out how to use parenthetical statements a bit more effectively. Also, I got kicked out of the story when you referred to all the women cringing at your reference to picking a salon out of the yellow pages. Who are you referring to? Women readers? Women friends? Who? Personally, I also don't get this statement. Admittedly, my technique for finding a hair salon is to go to the mall and walk around until I find some place a) I can afford, and b) where most of the hairdressers have hair that doesn't frighten me. There were actually several places where you added unnecasary details that took me out of the story, but that was the only one that actually confused me. Good start. Sellable. Needs distilled. To be far too bold: If you are going to work on this, can you create a passworded area for us to read your work? -pamela
    Do men read trashy novels?
    Authored by: gretch on Tuesday, June 25 2013 @ 04:37 PM PDT
    I would love to read more of this. Always, a good fiction is
    what keeps me from having to write my
    essay
    on schedule.
    Do men read trashy novels?
    Authored by: lance on Monday, May 12 2014 @ 06:15 AM PDT
    I say, keep up the good work! I'd like to write novels, too, but right now, I think I'm kinda stuck at doing writing assignment for kids who hate writing essays and other school papers.