Apart from his wellspring of fiction, both personal and anthologised, Des Lewis has become a reviewing fixture with his real time reviews.
So I’ve been tracking his progress through the 2010 BFS Winter Journal. I must admit, I admire his stamina, ploughing through a large number of stories in a publication that now encompasses both New and Dark Horizons, the formerly separate fiction publications of the BFS. (N.B. – my copy is still in the post).
The link to all the reviews in the book is here.
Des’s reviews can be a little oblique, intensely personal, but always interesting. His review for my story is, by comparison, (much like the story), relatively straightforward. It is reproduced in full below.
The Well by Robert Mammone
Depth of our Winter but hot because we’re here in Australia. Despite, for me, some clumsy expressions of language and some horror cliches and one or two typos, this enjoyable enough Pan Horror-type plot supplies a provocative ending where the well of nightmarish guilt and crime that I also recall from Stephen King’s ’1922′ has its Australian waters muddied by a disturbing ending that still resonates in my mind and tantalises my understanding of it. Plus a fox in a hole. (24 Jan 11 – another 2 hours later)
All in all, a fair summary. First, the good points – I’m pleased he that he likes the ending and how it remains with him after finishing the story. The story itself is relatively straightforward – two brothers renovate a house in country Victoria during the height of summer, the building tension between the two and an act of violence that changes everything. Overlaying this is a well that sits in front of the house, which has been capped by an iron lid incised with mysterious carvings. How the two elements interact forms the story and allowed me a degree of ambiguity at the ending as to what is going on. The reference to the fox in a hole that Des makes is a further mysterious touch.
His reference to a Pan Horror type plot is interesting. To be brutally honest, I’m no great stylist as a writer, which is likely an intellectual shortcoming I’ll never overcome. I have a tendency towards pulpish plots (like most of the effective Pan Horror stories) which are a basic, straightforward read, with an occasional twist/bloody ending. I may not be capable of rising above that style of story, but if I can at least write them well, I suppose I should be satisfied.
The bad points – I’m pretty furious with myself (I absolve the editor of all responsibility for the shortcomings Des points out) that typos slipped through – utterly unprofessional on my part and a real pain for the reader who no doubt would be ‘taken out’ of the fiction of the story by a misspelled word. Similarly the clumsy expression of language Des points out – I’ve become a little slack in recent months. Usually I would print out a completed draft and correct by hand, but have recently simply done it on the laptop. I tend to miss things on the screen, which is likely how the typos and language clumsiness slipped through. Unforgivable.
His reference to King’s ‘1922’ I think relates to a story of that title in King’s most recent collection, which I haven’t read as I’m waiting to find a cheap copy.
That said, I’m pleased the story has been reviewed, and in a forum where it will be seen by a larger number of people than would otherwise be the case. The errors are a real shame but I think his overall comments are favourable towards the story, though judging by his other short reviews of story’s within the Journal, it isn’t his favourite. Still, onward and upward.