Reviews from

Pebbles in my Shoe

Picking at old scabs.

41 total reviews 
Comment from Brigitte Elko
Not yet exceptional. When the exceptional rating is reached this is highlighted

Since this has already been declared a winner, there is not much to say in a review. I am happy that I chose it for reading. I was born in 1946 in Germany, as a kid after came to the United States, some uneducated pompous fools called me a Nazi, go figure. I learned about the holocaust and the atrocious acts of Hitler like everyone my age from books. I can not fathom a reason for these racist bigots to demonstrate such atrocities. Will it ever end? It appears to be a disease for which there is no inoculation. Be proud, stay proud, and react as you must.

 Comment Written 04-Dec-2017

reply by the author on 11-Dec-2017
    Thank you again, Brigitte. We humans seem to have a natural bent for focusing on our differences, rather than our similarities. I don't know if our species can change, but I know individuals can. Thank you again. Peace, Lee
Comment from B.B. Rose
This work has reached the exceptional level

This was great. Your story is a perfect example of how to write using thoughtful and incisive detail. I thought Louise had pretty grown up speech for a teen, but she was cool. Best regards, B.B. Rose

 Comment Written 20-Oct-2017

reply by the author on 23-Oct-2017
    Thanks for the wonderful review, B.B. Rose. I'm glad you enjoyed. Louise was an old soul. Thanks again. Peace, Lee
Comment from dalejohn49
This work has reached the exceptional level

Congratulations on the win! A great story well written. It captures so many elements of American adolescence and of the tribalism still found in America.

 Comment Written 20-Oct-2017

reply by the author on 23-Oct-2017
    Thanks so much, dalejohn49. Tribalism is a good word. I get the sense we're regressing as a culture. Thanks again. Peace, Lee
Comment from Sis Cat
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Lee, this was excellent. First of all, congratulations on your well-deserved win. I am honored to share the podium with you.

I love the clarity of your observations which rang true to mine. This is the first chapter that jumped out at me because it's so true:

Negroes who'd been here forever, hovered, having failed to gain much upward traction. Mostly, they provided resentful backs for the newcomers to climb over.

You describe in personal terms the suspicions and animosity between immigrants and native born, causing you "adapt and forge new alliances." Although this happened decades ago, you speak of larger issues which resonate today in a new wave of animosity towards immigrants. As you write, "Couched bigotry is a more insidious kettle of carp." You have a way with words that is both poetic and profound, such as, "There's a reason the word 'ethnicity' ends with 'city'. New Britain was the common name for half a dozen separate ghettos, or, 'ethni-cities'."

You are also superb at your recollection of dialogue which tell a story and reveal character:

"But, I'll get in trouble."

My father snorted. "Look in the mirror, son. You're already in trouble."

I love your clever jump cut in this scene which did not depict your fight with Eddie, but shows the aftermath:

"In the end, I made up my own mind.

"Eddie received half a dozen stitches over his startled right eye."

Finally, I love how you did not have a tidy ending. It is messy and natural as life and death often are. You conclude with these ringing words:

"I'll be the first to admit I can glean no sense, no moral, no profound lesson from any of this. But it all happened as stated. And a lot of it still hurts.

"I'd trade none of it for a fairy tale ending."

Lee, this is a superb essay. I wish I had a six star to give you. I feel thrilled and honored to share the podium with one of my favorite FanStory writers. You inspire me!

Thank you for sharing and congrats again!

 Comment Written 20-Oct-2017

reply by the author on 23-Oct-2017
    Thanks so much for your stunning review, Andre. As I said before, if the voting results were reversed, I'd have no gripe. Our pieces actually complemented each other. I'm proud of that. Different stories, funneling down to a common theme.
    Today, we need to remember that America is supposed to be based on our commonalities--transcending our petty differences.

    Actually, Andre, I think this is one for the cultural text books. Given all the outside things that separate us, we simultaneously wrote parallel, yet intensely personal, stories for the same rinky-dink contest. And the voters maybe had to toss a coin.

    I'm heartened by that. The shouters are not drowning us out.

    You are a hell of a writer, Andre. And a hell of a reviewer, too.

    Peace, Lee
reply by Sis Cat on 25-Oct-2017
    Thank you, Lee, for your compliment. You are right?we both arrived at the same conclusion through different styles and parrallel directions in our stories. Thanks again.
Comment from Mark Valentine
This work has reached the exceptional level

Congrats on the well-deserved contest win! What a great portrait this is. A blue collar telling of a blue collar tale. Having grown up on the south side of Chicago in the sixties, I can relate to the parochialism of a time and a place where ethnicities clung together as they tried to stake their claim to a piece of the dream. You describe the racism that accompanied that process perfectly - it's not the malicious racism of the KKK, but it's not totally innocuous either.

The authenticity and the language make the narrative flow well. I love the occasional breach of the fourth wall ("See what I mean about Louise?"). There are some great lines that stand out ("Just ask John Donne." and, my favorite - "Gravity reclaimed me with a thumping vengeance"). Mostly what I love about this one though, are the "observing egos" of the main characters - thirteen year olds who are able to see the dynamics of the culture and the families in which they are immersed. It is an ability, I think, that develops earlier in minorities and misfits - it's easier to see the ethos of a group, when you're excluded from it.

And how cool that all of the interplay of culture takes place against a backdrop of a puppy-love story. Having that as the skeleton for the story adds a warmth and humor to it all.

I could go on and on about this one. there is so much here that I imagine just came to you intuitively as you wrote it. In trying to deconstruct it though, I'm struck by how every line and anecdote seems to have a purpose. For example, using the term 'negroes" gives a sense of the era in a way that simply stating the year could not. Likewise with the parental attitudes on fighting (the value of teaching your kids to be tough and to take care of themselves was high in those neighborhoods), and the ridiculous idea (that we've all experienced) of a thirteen year old thinking that he is in love. That captures so well, the "in-betweeness" of that age.

The epilogue reminds me of "American Graffiti" or "Stand by Me" - a wonderful punctuation to the story and a wonderful way of demonstrating how our past, particularly that part of our past when we came of age, stays with us.

 Comment Written 19-Oct-2017

reply by the author on 25-Oct-2017
    Ah, Mark, I'm humbled. My writing, as you suggest, is more intuitive than designed. I really appreciate the way you correctly parse my intentions--even when I couldn't have explained them. 'Negroes' was appropriate then. But I didn't give a thought to its use. I wrote from a time I remembered.

    Chicago must have been a larger, more complicated slice of the same. And probably tougher.

    You're right. The story started out to be about Louise, Eddie, and me. But you can't tell a story without setting the scene.

    One reviewer asked me why all we geezers continue to write stories about the 60s. I told him, when something more interesting comes along, I'll write about it.

    As always, Mark, thank you very much.

    Peace, Lee
Comment from Contests

Not yet exceptional. When the exceptional rating is reached this is highlighted

A contest winning entry! A seven star rating from the Contest Committee for posting the winning contest entry.

 Comment Written 19-Oct-2017

reply by the author on 19-Oct-2017
    Thank you, Committee. I'm honored. Peace, Lee
Comment from IndianaIrish
This work has reached the exceptional level

Breathtaking, consuming, and simply...superb, hw. I love reading your personal stories, and they always give me reason to recall similar events in my life, and I like that. Your tale stirs many emotions in me, and I went back to read it again to be sure I didn't miss any. The title is perfect, your metaphors andsimitinue to amaze me, and your inclusion of "what happened" to Eddie and Aldene, gave the story a strong emotional impact. Louise...she sure missed out on a good thing.
Best wishes in the contest.
Indy :-)

 Comment Written 07-Oct-2017

reply by the author on 08-Oct-2017
    Thanks so much, Indy. Yes, my personal stories reflect a time we shared. When we share 'times', in a way, we share lives.
    History is nothing more than shared experiences. Eddie and Aldene both came to tragic ends, but so differently. It's so hard to believe I actually knew someone who was hit by a bus. Life is wicked and ironic at the same time.
    I'm glad this piece pushed some of your buttons, Indy. We should share memories some time.
    Thanks again.

    Peace, Lee
Comment from frogbook
This work has reached the exceptional level

Great write! I didn't think you would lose the girl though. Liked how your parents were secretly proud of you. So sad that the 2 were lost in there respective ways. Great descriptions starting with the opening paragraph that drew the reader in for more.

 Comment Written 06-Oct-2017

reply by the author on 08-Oct-2017
    Thank you, frogbook. Funny how my folks could demonstrate pride, but couldn't express it verbally. Some kind of code.
    Eddie's death in Vietnam was predictable. Aldene being hit by a bus in his hometown verges on black comedy. I hope he can appreciate the irony. Thanks again, my friend. Peace, Lee
Comment from Bob Stanton
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I liked this a lot and can equate in many ways to your experience. The young teen angst got me. I was partnered with Susan Aston at 12yo at the mandatory annual school dance, practice dance sessions. I burned a flame for her and really fancied my chances until a year or so later at a Xmas party she hooked-up with someone else and slow-danced to "Goodbye Ruby Tuesday" by the stones; their latest release.
As a white immigrant to South Africa in 1976, I also felt your comment "While I accepted the deck had been stacked in my favour, it never occurred to me to renounce my privileged status." and "Truth is, not being guilty is not the same as being innocent. ".
Thanks for the piece.

 Comment Written 05-Oct-2017

reply by the author on 08-Oct-2017
    Thanks so much, Bob. From oceans apart, we had similar experiences. I guess human nature isn't geographically specific. And I'm glad it's not. Ah, Ruby Tuesday! A great song. An answer to the Beatle's Yesterday.
    Frankly, Bob, I loved the 60s. Those years stirred my brain, made me a more thoughtful person.
    Thanks again. Peace, Lee
Comment from giraffmang
This work has reached the exceptional level

Hi Lee,

Superb opening lines. The juxtaposition of the two descriptions is very nice indeed.

On reading your author notes, it did strike me as it is amazing that no matter how much things appear to change, they stay surprisingly the same, as the old adage goes.

Totally engrossed in the telling.

 Comment Written 05-Oct-2017

reply by the author on 10-Oct-2017
    Thanks, G. I was thinking of your tutorial when I wrote the opening lines. For the most part, I can't get comfortable writing if I'm not happy with my opening. I can't get dressed until I'm happy with my hat.
    I agree. Current events draw me into memories.
    I'm glad you enjoyed. Thanks for the galaxy. Peace, Lee