Fascinating Reviews for Rosary!

8 years ago | M.C.A. Hogarth (Member)

I wanted to thank everyone who's been reviewing Rosary--yes, Gavin, you and Robert too--for such thoughtful responses. It's such a pleasure to see such well-thought out reviews, whether they like or dislike the art in question. :)

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Page: 12


  1. Robert Rodgers (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    Just to be clear, I thought it was pretty good--just not my sort of shindig. I don't usually read stories with strong emotional exposition, but I've met enough people who do to realize that emotional exposition isn't necessarily /bad/.

    That is to say, my review of the story comes from the perspective of someone who doesn't usually read or like these sorts of stories, so that's probably something to keep in mind.

    Anyway, good luck with your story!

  2. M.C.A. Hogarth (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    Not all art is everyone's cup of tea. That's part of what's good about it. We are diverse. :)

  3. G.S. Williams (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    You yourself are a diverse and prolific writer -- and willing to try different forms of your art. So far I count fantasy, science fiction and apocalyptic literature, and that's just off the top of my head.

    I tried to be extremely thoughtful and thorough, and highlight the best of the heart of the story even when parts of the cup of tea, as it were, didn't fit for me. Thanks for noticing -- and I'm sure we'll see more in the future, but I still need to catch up on some of the other stuff too. :)

  4. M.C.A. Hogarth (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    I think you wrote a thoughtful, educated and fascinating review, Gavin. I rarely get such considered reviews from people who don't like all or parts of the work, and it's always a pleasure when I do. You seemed afraid you would offend me...! But really you did nothing to do so, not even close. I've gotten bad reviews--not bad like 'I didn't like the art' but bad like 'I want to mock the author and trash the book and laugh about it in public with friends'--and those are the only reviews I don't like. They're puerile and cruel, and there's something of the mob mentality in them.

    Your review was nothing like that! I think you should be proud of it. I certainly am, for inspiring that level of discourse. :)

    As I said to Robert, not everything's for everyone. Sometimes not every part of everything's for everyone. If that bothered me I'd be in trouble because from what my records show, there's very little overlap between the readers of my first three serials...!

  5. G.S. Williams (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    Not so much offend specifically you, but be credible to anyone that read the review. I've been striving for a very informed, objective tone lately, instead of just off the cuff opinionated, and given that you're a writer that's busy in the community and prolific, I didn't want to sound nuts or like I had an axe to grind. Especially when Jinx's review is quite thoughtful but also full of praise -- if I was going to disagree with a 5 star rating, I had to have good grounds to do so. His comparison to Tolkien gave me kind of a measuring stick for justifying my point of view -- you don't do what Tolkien does -- but you DO have your own talent, and pointing it out means that people who appreciate it will find it, and if you yourself wondered now you know it's there and can cultivate it.

    But I was also being careful because it's a case where I know a LOT about the source material and I didn't want to sound like some armchair expert being all high and mighty because you wandered into territory where some snob would wag their finger. I don't want to sound like a snob, so I was working hard at being informed and respectful.

    It helped me stay objective, and that was necessary when my own novel "No Man an Island" is in the same genre and I didn't want to come across as biased, like an Anne Rice being mad at Stephenie Meyer for Twilight's vampires when neither of them is Bram Stoker who kind of has a right to be ticked about derivative vampire literature. ( I don't know that Rice hates Meyer, I'm just making an example)

  6. jinxtigr (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    I mentioned Tolkien because MCA's got a knack for that sort of flowery language- just to prove I'm not a syncopant I hunted down my LEAST favorite MCA Hogarth work (Spots!) and critted that, while trying hard to avoid the 'lecture the author' trap and stick to explaining exactly what is happening thematically and why I found that so disconcerting.

    The reason I was so laudatory with Rosary was that I saw an author drawing together her pet themes and styles- the thoughtful interior character study, the weight of morality, the decorated language- into a specific work that highlighted them all in a totally appropriate context. I also find her Aphorisms fascinating for similar reasons.

    I'm now interested in finding some wildly different authors, to see if anyone's doing harsh savage work that resonates as well as Rosary does. I had a look at one of Gavin's favorites, "The Third Person", and found it disconcerting- way darker than he let on, with an evil undercurrent that I believe was the point of the exercise, and an evil-persists ending. It might be worth reading that more thoroughly to see if I was imagining that...

  7. G.S. Williams (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    I've been in contact with the author of "The Third Person" and yes, there is evil in the story world but I would argue not in the narrator, who has a skewed perspective, similar to Asperger's Syndrome and other pervasive development disorders. She's a naive girl who does wrong things out of innocence, and is witness to even worse things but hardly is able to understand them and so the text more alludes to them subtly than it ever graphically displays them. It's frightening because of that.

    But it's also beautiful in its descriptions and symbolism -- the shattered ballerina doll repaired in the end is testamount to how people rebuild after tragedy in a broken world, and the imagery of the novel is consistent throughout. So what you found evil I found redemptive, and it depends upon the way you interpret the textual elements.

    The things you like about MCA's writing are accurate, and they are present in "A Rosary of Stones and Thorns," but I don't think as much as in her other work. There are better examples of her talent, and so I couldn't agree with your 5 star rating -- but that's my taste, not yours. I think both of us show different perspectives on what's present in the text, and different readers will share or dispute our viewpoints, but those that have similar points of view in their own reading will know in the future that if they like what you like here, they might like other books you enjoy, and same for people who see what I see.

    That's the whole point of sharing different reviews, because not everyone thinks the same.

  8. M.C.A. Hogarth (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    I am flattered by the comparison to Tolkien but would never make it myself! So it doesn't distress me to find disagreement on that point.

    Jinx, your review of Spots made me giggle. >.>

    Whatever the case, I think all the reviews left on Rosary were very considered, and I was delighted by them. It's never good form to answer any of the questions raised in reviews unless the review's author decides they want to do an interview at some point, so I generally don't do that. But I find fascinating the whole notion of reviewing something that isn't completely available. There's a leap in the dark that reviewers have to make, that the end of the story will be in the same vein/fulfill the same expectations as the beginning, and while I won't speak about whether my work does I know I've thrown a lot of novels against a wall because their second half didn't live up to their first, or worse the ending completely reversed everything I liked about it.

  9. G.S. Williams (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    Well, that was part of my reaction to a 5 star rating -- it wasn't even complete, so that means Jinx was very impressed, which is good that he connects with the story. But I generally wait until I've read the whole thing before I give a rating like that (unless it's an ongoing serial that lasts for years, like JZ's Legion of Nothing) because you need a sense of the whole.

  10. M.C.A. Hogarth (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    Nah, Rosary will be done within a month or two, given the rate people are paying for it. It's 17 chapters, which should be posted in 2 chunks each, and we're averaging 2-3 episodes a week. Won't be long, thus.

    Then I will have to shake my trunk some more, see what other old novels fall out. :)

  11. jinxtigr (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    I trust MC to do what she intends, and to conclude in a way that continues to resonate with the themes. It's that fractal thing I talked about: it can be pretty clear what's within the range of creative output even if you don't know exactly how it'll be done.

    The completely unexpected and surprising can also be cool, in its place... but that's more about ongoing stuff, and I think selfcontained narratives benefit from having consistent themes and a 'predictable' outcome. Rosary will not end with a horrible nihilistic thud, or have everyone turn to Powerpuff Girls, or have major characters like Archangel Michael suddenly have a change of heart. When it does end, I'll be reading it.

    There's also a level where even if the ending disappoints, my judgement still stands, because the launch was so clear and strong. There's a webcomic I read called 'Out There' which is an example of this. I'm not really sure what the plot's up to anymore, but it began with an introductory story arc that was the most brilliant thing I've ever seen, where we learned huge amounts about two strikingly different characters and got laughs and insights before we even learned their names- in fact there was a gag that hinged upon that very point. It's okay that this very long-running comic didn't maintain that experience forever, because that was a beginning, and you get one of those per work. I think Rosary is similar, in that it's laid out the shape of its experience with similar economy.

  12. M.C.A. Hogarth (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    I'd say you're flattering me, Jinx, but wow, that Spots review pulled no punches! Lol!

    Actually, I liked the Spots review. Your take on the themes and how they permeated the work was fascinating, and gave me a totally new perspective. Nicely done!

    Meanwhile, I'm not sure I am as kind as you are about works that disappoint me at the ends... that tends to really hurt my feeling for the rest of the work. But the more I read, the more I feel like endings are very hard to do, and most of the authors I read flub them. There's a big trend these days to do surprise (read: hurt the reader by reneging on the compact between author and reader about what kind of story they've bought into) endings, or they just don't do endings at all... the work is truncated. Or it just never ends, like series fiction that can't seem to find a graceful note to stop on.

    I love works with long denouements. Tolkien did that excellently for Lord of the Rings... one-sixth of that book was tying up the loose ends!

    I try then to make most of my work have some kind of satisfactory ending. The longer I write, the more important it is to me to fulfill that need.

  13. jinxtigr (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    *g* promise me you'll never write a hardboiled detective novel. "A new vicious bastard infests these mean streets- and she's a loving mom!" :o

    I think I can carry that sort of thing off a little better, which says horrible things about my worth as a person ;) but one thing I get is an inability to connect with a more day-to-day, warm, social life, and it hurts my writing. Gavin didn't like 'Kings of Rainmoor' largely because it doesn't connect- the hero remains adrift, unable to connect, and the big victory at the end is him getting to disconnect on his terms. To me, it was hugely satisfying because it was so personal, but to anybody else it seems terribly strange.

    So much of this has to do with things like Asperger's (which I, too, have: aspie enough to choke a horse) but also some related things that have defined my world. I'm allergic to wheat gluten, but shrugged it off as I didn't get stomachaches, and have eaten a known, tested allergen all my life. Turns out that it wipes out my ability to metabolize vitamin B6- and when I don't have that, I live in hell and wish for death every hour of every day. An awful lot of my writing has tried to come to life FOR me- to be okay for a person who deeply wasn't okay. By the same token, other people's writing has provided a haven for my psyche, constantly, for most of my 43 years. (Recently I've changed my diet, and it's an absolute rebirth :) )

    THAT is why I can know we're on the same page and you won't throw a cheat ending at me. I know without having to ask, because it just shows. And yeah, endings are hard to do- the best thing is to remain true to your theme and make the ending true to that, because then if someone hates the book they'll hate the ending just as much.

    I'm actually working a theory these days where endings have to do with Maslow's hierarchy of needs (again...). It seems like when books are good, it's because someone starts at one level, gets dragged down to a lower level (has esteem but gets love threatened, has safety but gets survival threatened) and then wins through to resolve at a level higher than they started (fights through survival and finds love, fights through loss of love and creates legacy). It perhaps risks being formulaic, but I think it's promising :)

  14. G.S. Williams (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    Given that traditional tragedy features someone starting out from a position of prosperity and then falling from grace, while comedy puts a character in dire straits and then has them triumph, the fact is you're right about Maslow's hierarchy in that every story has conflict -- and to end up with any sort of catharsis, win or lose the protagonists have to face the conflict that endangers their need.

    Whether it's Holden Caufield struggling to find his place in the world and maturing, or Frodo saving the world by throwing the ring into the cracks of doom, every story rests on conflict and conflict requires that needs be threatened. There's nothing formulaic about it in a reductive way -- you can't have a conflict without attacking something vital.

    Survival (physiological and safety) -- war, zombies, apocalypse, supervillain attack, shipwreck, murder mystery, natural disaster, alien invasion, etc. etc.

    Love/belonging -- romance, coming of age stories, buddy movies, friendship, family, etc.

    And Esteem and Self-actualization occur in character arcs and the way dynamic characters develop.

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