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09 December 2007 @ 11:33 am
The Awful Truth About Zencore!  
Six months after the publication of an unidentified short story of mine in Zencore! earlier this year, editor and publisher Des Lewis has finally pulled back the curtain on his contributors. So now I can reveal that I was the writer of the story "The Awful Truth About the Circus," which up until now has been out there in the world with no attribution. Here's some of what has been said by those who had no idea who wrote the story.

First up, Jetse de Vries, who tried to match up the list of author names with their respective tales. Unfortunately, he got it wrong when he wrote:

Patricia Russo ... writes subtle fantasy stories that sometimes edge close to literature. This would make "Mary's Gift, the Stars, and Frank's Pisser" quite a bit too 'in-your-face' for her, and "Fugly" possibly too. "The Awful Truth About the Circus," which is a gentle fantasy, seems to be closest to her sensibilities. So I'm guessing Patricia Russo wrote "The Awful Truth About the Circus."

Sorry, Jetse!

As for his opinion about the story itself, here's what he wrote in his earlier review:

Although suffused with a Bradburian flavour, I thought it missed the master's conciseness. I suspect that at half its length it would be more than twice as powerful. Now it's just OK.

Elsewhere, Jim Steel shared that:

If "The Secret Life of Pandas" has one of the best titles, then "The Awful Truth About The Circus" has one of the worst. Weird thing is, though, this belongs to probably the best story in the collection. A girl is wilting in an American small town and she decides to run away and join the circus after finding a flier in the local newspaper. This story ... words fail me.

Blogger "fresh victim" had this to say:

The story has a small-town background and plot which shows certain similarities with those of Ray Bradbury, but without much of the Bradbury magic. The circus could hardly be more different to the one in Something Wicked This Way Comes. I quite liked it, though, as it's an honest enough story, simply told.

Finally, Jim Stratton was far less favorable when he reviewed my story this way in Tangent:

"The Awful Truth About The Circus" is another failed experiment. Carly seeks escape from her small-town life by visiting the circus. What follows is confusion, fear, and abject despair. But I'm still unclear why Carly feels this way, or why we should care.

It's been interesting reading these commentaries on my stories from behind the mask, sort of like attending ones's own funeral and getting to hear the eulogies.

Well ... not quite. But interesting nonetheless.
RealThogrealthog on December 9th, 2007 06:33 pm (UTC)
Congrats on the good reviews, Scott!

As for the others, well, ya know, some people just don't know how to read.
The Texas Triffid Ranch - Odd Plants and Odditiestxtriffidranch on December 9th, 2007 08:13 pm (UTC)
As far as the Tangent review was concerned, just remember that the reviewer was paid nothing to contribute that review, so it has the same exact value.
RealThog: 'Ronicarealthog on December 9th, 2007 08:19 pm (UTC)
"As far as the Tangent review was concerned, just remember that the reviewer was paid nothing to contribute that review, so it has the same exact value."

Catchy, but hardly logical. Air's free; does that mean it has no value?
Paul Di Filippopgdf on December 10th, 2007 04:32 pm (UTC)
Aw, dem critics, whadda dey know!
RealThogrealthog on December 10th, 2007 05:03 pm (UTC)
Too damn' right! Well, except when they're me, of course . . .
RealThogrealthog on December 12th, 2007 04:24 pm (UTC)
In this context, there's an interesting piece at http://www.thebookstandard.com/bookstandard/news/author/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003683804 about the new National Book Critics Circle survey.
scottedelmanscottedelman on December 13th, 2007 04:45 am (UTC)
Interesting survey! The one set of answers which surprised me were those in response to the question, "Should a reviewer read other reviews of a book before reviewing it?"

40.1% answered No, with only 17.9% thinking it was acceptable. I don't see any problem with it. It could even be useful. I see nothing wrong with a critic commenting in a review that all the other critics hated (or liked) this book, but he or she couldn't see why.

I personally wouldn't want to read other reviews of a book I knew I was going to critique myself before I read the book, so that my reactions coming to it would be fresh and unbiased, but once having read the book, I'd have no issue reading what everyone else had to say in advance of the actual writing of my piece.
karen_w_newtonkaren_w_newton on December 10th, 2007 08:01 pm (UTC)
What's so terrible about the title? I find it intriguing.
scottedelmanscottedelman on December 10th, 2007 10:16 pm (UTC)
I could never figure that out. I always thought this was one of my better titles, because it would make a reader want to know just what that awful truth could possibly be.
jetsejetse on December 10th, 2007 09:34 pm (UTC)
I got it wrong!

That'll teach me to underestimate your versatility as a writer.

As consolation, though, I won the Zencore! competition
(by getting 8 of them correct).

I'll buy you a drink in Denver, Scott. Or better: lunch!

And indeed, I'm one of the horrible critics. But I stand by my review. At least I'm not an *anonymous* critic...;-)
scottedelmanscottedelman on December 10th, 2007 10:21 pm (UTC)
As consolation, though, I won the Zencore! competition.

And how will you be spending your winnings?

I'll buy you a drink in Denver, Scott. Or better: lunch!

See you there!