Rod Raglin

This blog will touch on the experiences I have as a writer (not to be mistaken for my experience as a writer, i.e. how many books I've written, etc); the pleasure and the pain, the joy and the grief, the satisfaction and the frustration, the magic and the reality - have I left anything out, oh yeah, the rejection, rejection and more rejection,  the humiliation and the embarrassment, the jealousy and the resentment - that pretty much covers it, except for why I do it which perhaps I'll realize along the way. Are you totally confused? Good, let's begin.

Author Michael Hammond not up to the challenge of short stories

 

3 Short Story reviews:

 

This is a review of three short stories written my Michael Hammond. I’d like to thank Michael for his hard work and commitment to these worthwhile endeavors.

 

King Eddie

When the employer demands deep cuts in employee’s salaries and benefits or he’ll close the factory, Eddie Daoust, just a few years away from getting pensioned off from a job he hates, becomes the reluctant union president and leader of a strike.

 

Beware the Evening of the Marigold Sky

On the best day of Mario Fortunato’s life he’s driving behind an armoured truck when the back doors swing open and cash begins falling out. He manages to stop, scoop up two bags of cash and get away. But the best day of Mario’s life turns out to actually be the worst day, as Mario’s anxiety about his windfall becomes a reality.

 

The Day the Music Died

Grace Hoppe is a young woman who finds solace from her abusive father in the songs of pop idol Chad Carter-Stefano. When Chad dies of an overdose she has a dream of him that has unforeseen consequences.

 

Author Michael Hammond has taken on a demanding form of fiction. Because of the nature of the short story, they’re short, the story needs to be launched and developed immediately. To do this literally every word has to be carefully considered and in most cases do double-duty – develop character and advance the plot.

 

All three of Hammond’s stories start in the middle of the action, which is good and absolutely necessary. The stories themselves have potential, but the author’s writing is not up to the challenge.

 

The best by far is King Eddie, the only plot that doesn’t stretch this reader’s suspension of disbelief beyond the breaking point. The story is realistic and well researched, the characters are better developed than in the other stories and the writing is more sophisticated.

 

Hammond tends to tell his stories instead of showing them. An example is he tells us Eddie is “utterly exhausted with life at the mill”, rather than showing us through action and dialogue that would develop character and advance the plot. In fact he uses very little dialogue in any of these stories.

 

The Day the Music Died gets off on the wrong track from the first sentence. Hammond writes, I was a nobody for my entire life up until that fateful day when the music died. I

blame Chad Carter-Stefano. He ruined my life.

 

One would expect the protagonist had a life to lose, but as the story progresses it’s apparent by this clichéd tale of unrelenting hard luck there was no life to ruin.

 

There’s no room for redundancies in a short story and in all these tales Hammond frequently says the same thing though using different words. We’re told Grace can’t take one more slap in the face from her father, than told he whacks her around. Is slapping different than whacking?

 

The author writes that Grace’s father is a “closet” drunk and yet no one will come to Grace’s assistant. The term “closet” means nobody knows your true nature. Why would people help Grace if no one knew her father was an abusive drunk?

 

What really is indicative of Hammond’s status as a writer is the way he handles this sentence, Every generation has a day when the music dies. Hendrix, Morrison, Cobain and Elvis.

 

Morrison and Hendrix were of the same generation. They died ten months apart, Hendrix on September 18, 1970 and Morrison on July 3, 1971. The phrase the day the music died refers to the plane crash in 1959 that killed Richie Valens, J.P “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Buddy Holly and was immortalized by Don McLean’s song American Pie. The phrase has nothing to do with the artist’s the author mentions. He could have at least attributed the quote to the original source.

 

This is just sloppy research or more likely no research at all which is doubly disturbing since the author claims to be a freelance journalist

 

The opening of Beware the Evening of the Marigold Sky is incomprehensible. Why would someone who’s going to rob Mario warn him? The further into the story one gets the more fantastic it becomes – the back doors of an armoured truck fly open on a highway and money flies out allowing Mario to stop and fill two shopping bags with cash before getting back in his car and driving home.

 

Add the clumsy writing including redundancies about Mario’s employment situation, the problems in his marriage and his personal finances and you have a story that should have never have been published – even self published.

 

I downloaded these stories from Smashwords as part of my commitment to review the work of self-published authors.