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Irene Inatty's picture

Burglaress

By Irene Inatty in Arrest Us

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Description

An unconventional robbery slowly drives Bunny Hoover insane.

Comments

Kenneth Jobe's picture
Kenneth Jobe from Wichita is reading American Gods June 9, 2014 - 7:54pm

I liked this a great deal. It set quite a mood, and I felt like I was in that bar with Bunny. I also felt like I understood how desperately he wanted/needed to see Diana again, and it was great work showing his descent into ever-deepening depression. But, since we have to try and offer up a bit of criticism as well, here are my (albeit small) qualms. 

Something about the ending didn't totally add up to me. As much as I liked the way she hid in the in the ceiling, it seemed like for as beautiful and seductive as she seemed to be she could've spotted a more lucrative mark. Or was she not as enchanting to everyone else as she was to Bunny? Where he saw a slinky sexpot, maybe everyone else saw a junkie skank. Also, she had a band, which seems like a lot of work just for her to hustle this guy. I'd buy into it more if she was a killer karaoke singer.  Maybe Bunny was more well off than I imagined when I was reading it, or I just missed something (entirely possible).

On a final stylistic note, I didn't care for the line "she smiled at him poisonously." It actually fits with the tone and mood of the piece, it just bugged me. 

Despite my nitpicks, like I said I liked the story a lot. You're very good and I'd love to read more of your work.  Thanks for sharing!

Irene Inatty's picture
Irene Inatty from Miami is reading How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy June 9, 2014 - 8:53pm

Thank you so much for your kind, kind words!

I will agree that I could have spent a little more wordcount on Diana's characterization, and the peculiar situation which led her to Bunny. I'll look into including it in further edits (probably in that last bit of dialogue). I swear, I've given her a whole backstory, but it's so bizarre, it can't be guessed with the scarce amount of hints I've given the reader.

Funny enough, I deleted and re-typed that line a few times. I kept it because of the mood, I supppose.

You're very encouraging, thank you again.

Joe P's picture
Joe P from Brainerd, MN is reading Pet Sematary June 10, 2014 - 5:44am

This story has a great vibe to it. Almost like mourning old school noir. Cool stuff. I was  a little lost as to Jean's role at the end. Where did he come from? What was his part in it all? Also, I would have liked something on how Diana felt towards Bunny. Someing was going on there, but I couldn't tell what.

At any rate, this was a compelling read. Thanks and good luck!

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 12, 2014 - 2:44pm

Beautiful.

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday June 19, 2014 - 6:42am

I loved the feel of this story.  A lot of despair and emptiness.  The dialogue at the end could have used a few more tags to keep straight who is talking.  Overall a well written piece with a nice tone to it.  Thanks for sharing.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 19, 2014 - 9:11am

I really did like this one a lot, at least for the first 4,000 words. You capture mood perfectly, and I could see those places clearly, and the characters even clearer. Bunny is a great protagonist, and his descent into something akin to madness is perfectly judged. This has a real gritty noir feeling to it, and it flows very well too. It’s not over-written and the voice is consistent (again for the first 4,000 words).

The ending was a real disappointment. It just didn’t live up to what had gone before. The switch in point of view was jarring, and it’s not consistent in terms of voice or flow. You could stop this at him taking the pills. It would be a great story, you don’t need the ending. Of course that wouldn’t fit the crime requirement as neatly, but instead what you have is an ending that (in my opinion) feels tacked on. The twist is easy to get, mainly because of the title. I would strongly suggest a change of title for that reason.

Reading through this, I don’t want to step out of Bunny’s perspective, and I don’t want the ambiguity of the piece ruined by giving us a definitive ending. You do really well in dropping hints that Diana is there are stealing from him, but mire it by sticking with an unreliable narrator who spends his life almost permanently hammered on gin. This ambiguity is perfectly judged, and you’d be better off keeping that going to the end. If you need the conversation between Diana and Jean-Paul, let’s see it from Bunny’s unreliable perspective.

Obviously this is just the opinion of one person (though the ending has been touched upon in other comments), so you can weigh it as such. I loved the story up to that ending. I loved the little touches like the missing fingers, and how he came by them, and I love the way you drop those details into the story without it coming across as exposition. Really the amount of time I’m saying love / loved should clue you into what I think of this one. As it is, this one is in my top five. Change that ending (and the title), and it’s probably battling The Quiet Detective for my top spot so far.

Devon Robbins's picture
Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones June 20, 2014 - 9:24am

Hey Irene, 

The vibe you've got going with this piece is great. The musician with missing fingers, trying to live vicariously through music hits a good note for your MC. To be nitpicky, the story could have kicked off a little faster, but that's not a deal breaker. 

I agree with Adam's thoughts on the ending. I think ending with her coming in through the ceiling and having Bunny watch her move through the place, uninterested would be more fitting.

All in all, you've got a solid story.

Good luck.

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland June 24, 2014 - 9:19am

This is really well written. Nice tone, great sense of dread, I like the slip into depression. The setting is well described. For the most part I really liked this one. 

You may want to rethink the title. Maybe not. It sort of gives away something that isn't discovered for the first ten pages, or techinically untill the last couple, about Dianna being a burgler. Despite the title I still wasn't sure until the end so maybe it works just fine. I thought there was something more going on than a simple burglary so maybe it works as a double deciet type thing. 

I'm curioius to know what Bunny's proffesion is. It isn't mentioned but it could possibly give us a lot of insight that could make this story even stronger and more believable. I have no idea why Dianna picked Bunny as a mark. That might help. Does he have alot of nice things? You could mention that a bit more in his home but knowing his job could tell us what makes him a target and also what makes him so stricken with Dianna. I'm still unsure. He met her once in the bar and I didn't get enough details to know exactly why he fell so hard for her. So maybe show us more of there interaction with one another, and any more hints into his general character that might show how he'd fall so hard. 

The ending did fall a little short. It wasn't bad, but I guess because the rest of the story was so strong, I expected a little more. Is Dianna homeless? Is that why she stays in the house so long, besides just to steal. otherwise, she really would only need to stay long enough to get what she needs and get the alarm code. SO I assume she either is, or just likes living in ceilings and watching her victims. Especially ones like Bunny who fall head over heals that he's looking for her everynight. Which means he's hardly ever at home, so I'm still not sure why she stays there so much. 

Sorry if any of this sounds harsh. I actually quite enjoyed it. Definitely getting a thumbs up from me. Just wanted to let you know some of my general concerns as a reader incase you might want to tighten it up a bit. Take what helps and leave the rest. Good Luck. 

Thanks, 

--JR--

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 14, 2014 - 8:29pm

Great tone in this story. The first paragraph seemed a little long and flowery, but that might just be because of my stylistic preference.

Dylan Mackey's picture
Dylan Mackey from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Wake Up Dead by Roger Smith July 17, 2014 - 12:18pm

I really like the way you tell a story  - the hardboiled tenor.

Reads very lyrically and the characters were engaging - love the name Bunny Hoover.

The dialgoue is sharp (You smell like genocide) and the story has a good pacing.

Well done!

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations July 18, 2014 - 4:16am

Hi Irene,

Interesting character, Bunny! A pianist with missing fingers, and a mournful appearance. Love him. Don't love the story, though :( Got potential, especially with such a great character, but it doesn't work for me. Wish it had.

The attempt to go gritty and slumy doesn't quite work for me, and isn't sustained in any case through the piece. Maybe strip it down some?

For example, the opening :

The floor was sticky, and the low yellow bar lamps choked with dust. They swung to and fro, unsettled every time the door opened and closed. Spilled beer was layered onto itself, uncleaned for God knows how many years. It made an acrid cocktail, perfuming the bar with something similar to the morning breath of an inmate who had used up his only toothbrush to shank a guard some years prior.

The first two lines are good, they set the scene. The third, (in bold) explains the scene you have imagining in your head back to you, just in case you haven't, like, got it? And the fourth, in italics, is guaranteed to take you OUT of the scene, and into a much worse one, somewhere else. It's unnecessary, unless it serves to clue us into Bunny's jail time experiences, but it doesn't try to do that. Also, it doesn't ring true. Stale beer, and bad breath, aren't that close in odour?

So go with the first two only, and let your writing breath in the space provided. Plus, gets us quicker to the action.

Here are some other thoughts as I read through :

I wouldn't bother explaining Bunny used to attempt to get attention with his mouth - his finger drumming is just what he does, and as pianist, we don't - I think - need it explained.

This is too much : Bunny didn’t experience desire all too often, so he was a little confused. He felt his ex-wife had taken his dick’s life source when she left him ten years prior. He had only managed a handful of tearful masturbation sessions since.

It loses any "noir" voice you might be building, (tearful masturbation being the polar opposite of Noir, I'd suggest...) and is unnecessary, we get Bunny is no beauty, we get he doesn't exactly socialise, we don't need to know what happens behind his closed door.

Not sure you can tilt your head that far forward as to get a tear from your nose to your eye. Any reason it couldn't trickle from his forehead?

He falls asleep at the bus stop, but has a car. Some bridging information to give his intent - "Screw it, he;d pick the car up in the morning" or similar, otherwise I get a confused sense.

You have him spooning the bottle twice, that first night. The repetition is a bit jarring. That he takes the bottle back into the bath ought to be enough. And you never really explain why he starts sleeping in the bath, other than the fact as a writer it's a nice image.

The first time you mention he has a job, it's to say he's on enforced vacation. Introduce it earlier, or work out a way he doesn't really have steady employment (doesn't seem the sort...)

He still wears a wedding ring? (What if it can never be removed, because of the stump/scar?)

“Bunny’s dead.” - is this a mishear? If so, neat, but have him respond with something that shows his confusion more than "what?"

The 67 repetition - is JUST coincidence, right? But you can have it echo somehow in his skull... and is there anything special about 6669?

And so, onto the story ending, and therefore the revealed structure. You have a great character, Bunny, but I almost feel like he doesn't belong in this story. You have a wonderfully weird idea, the slow theft of everything someone owns, but it comes down to someone trying to get their fix of heroin, the fantasy woman turns out to be anything but, which could be a good story in it's own right, but feels underutilised and arbitrary here, and which seems to ruin that idea, and becomes implausible. I'd settle either for Bunny's story, maybe with the "real" story of how he lost his fingers, or a slow theft / obsession piece, but the mash-up here doesn't work for me, which is a shame, because as I say, it's got buckets of potential. As it is, the ending is unsatisfying; you don't even quite have the guts to let Bunny have his escape.

So, DEFINITELY keep writing. Maybe aim for a slighter straighter story next time, or at least work it until it coheres, and good luck!

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch July 20, 2014 - 3:55pm

Hey Irene,

I thought that there was a lot of good stuff in here. Like others have mentioned, Bunny is a great character, and, especially in the first bar scene, you create a great mood through your writing. There's tons of great lines through the piece, and Diana's entrance is really good too. At the same time, I think you overload on the noir style, to the point that for me at least it kinda became too much. It's also not balanced perfectly, as LIam pointed out. The first half is Noir all the way through, but little by little you seem to lose that style of writing  all together.

I agree with others about the ending. Your writing and the character of Bunny Hoover was keeping me reading through the story, even though I wasn't quite sure where you were going with this story. When I got to Diana coming out of the cealing, it sort of felt like you maybe also weren't sure how to end the story either. To me it felt like such a tonal shift that it momentarily soured me on the whole story.

The first half feels more like an attempt at noir, while the last bit feels like gonzo horror, and I think asks a bunch of questions that go unanswered (why Bunny? Who's Jen Paul? Why does Diana do this?).

I think you should maybe decide what story you're more interested in and try to rewrite this to that point. I was diggig Bunny's obsession with Diana, along with the focus of Jazz early on, but those two things kinda get dropped off at the end. If you're more interest in Diana's story(which could admittedly be a weird one), we need to see more of her, so she becomes more than a femme fatale cliche.

I hope this helps.