Review of: In A Yellow El Camino 

reviewed by f-ceska on 03/14/2012
Canadian Rite of Passage
One free-will review deserves another, but as I said before, it’s not the credits that count anyway. Reading a good story is always a pleasure.

This is a beautiful story. Beautiful, despite its horrors, that is. And that's because it touches so much of human experience and shows how terrible things can happen to a person and still help them to grow.

Unlike ‘Living the Life of Riley’, this story doesn’t rely on subtlety. The violence and abuse lands on the reader like a ton of bricks, but this works because Rory is older, and able to ‘process’ the things that happen to him, unlike young Riley, who experiences life’s blows through the filtered light of innocence like so many young children do. That’s why I think you chose to deliberately show us Rory’s life like this. BAM! I wondered at first if it wasn’t too on the nose, too graphic, too violent; but there are – unfortunately – people like Rory’s father, and their victims are real too.

I read some of the other reviews, and I agree with one reviewer who said that your focus changed suddenly from the mother to Rory, and perhaps it would be more consistent if you kept Rory’s perspective all the way through. Also, there are moments where subtlety can still play a part. The atmosphere you create through the details, for example in your description of Rory’s father’s car pulling up outside – the lights, the gravel, the tires – all of this is extremely effective in building the fear, and victims of abuse tend to remember the fear, rather than the actual violence, which you so graphically described. Rory’s mother, as a victim of constant abuse, would probably have carried more of an aura of fear around her; her joviality and carefree attitude before her husband came home seemed a little unrealistic. But everything that happened to Rory after he left home seemed to me completely believable and very well described.

I kept wondering where the ‘wild Irish rose’ was going to feature, but then of course realised that you were talking about your inspirations rather than anything in the story. Very cryptic!

I enjoyed this story and will add it to my favourites. You clearly have the gift of observing and drawing on real life to write compelling stories with a very strong hand.

I hope, and intend, to read some more of yours!

Other Reviews by f-ceska 248

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  • by f-ceska on 10/10/2013
    I finally was assigned your story and have just read it. You have an interesting concept here which I think you’ve handled well. Your story is well written, you have a natural fluency and it is clear you can write. There were only one or two minor typos. Regarding the story, I liked the idea that there is of course a consequence to playing against nature. The ironic revelation... read
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