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for Drive, Nightingale's Odyssey 1-shot, WA One-word Prompt Challenge

12/16/2018 c1 ZadArchie
So, this isn’t me giving yet another anti-spam review. This is me catching up on months of challenge pieces I need to read.

Have I told you that Erik’s voice is just amazing? It really has a lot of character, while at the same time providing an excellent narrating voice. Still, I liked hearing Blanjini for the first time (I don’t know if he appears in later chapters of your fic that I’m currently reading). It’s got a trickster like quality with the wisdom of age. Very nice.

I also like the message that comes across, and you capture that well when Erik remarks at the mesh of countries involved in their music. For a time, the Melting Pot myth held well, and some still cling to it. This is what that myth truly meant: we are all stuck together in the same world. We must learn to live together. It’s not about assimilation or all melding into one general “norm.” It is about acceptance. Wonderful work here.

Aha, nice reference to the fairy tale. Nice way to end things.

Best,
Zad
1/9/2018 c1 43Igenlode Wordsmith
"neck of my Stradivarius gripped in my firm hand" - why "firm"? It doesn't seem to go with all the rest of the descriptions of how ashamed and embarrassed he is...

"To play a master's work instrument in the pit of human disparity" - did you actually mean "disparity", i.e. things wildly differing from each other, or is this a typo for some other word? "work instrument" also seemed a bit of an odd expression to me; it suggests a workaday tool rather an instrument fit for a master's hand.

"her performance should have evoked grandiose applause" - again, are you sure you intended "grandiose", i.e. pretentious?

"stared at my scuffed shoes, I could count each joint in my toes through the worn leather" - what actually happens with worn-out shoes is that the soles get thin and the uppers split; first along the creases where they bend, and/or then at the toe. So he'd probably be counting visible toes ;-)

"A place where more cart horses turned their ear to her song than humans did" - I like the reminder that New York in this era would have been full of horse-drawn traffic!

"The ravenous teeth of the Bowery would be the death of me" - I like this phrase, but I'm not quite clear what it means; in the context it sounds as if it might be referring to the cobblestones ("unless I should wish to go barefoot this winter"), but I'm assuming it's probably some more general reference to the merciless inhabitants of the slums?

"Like a curtain drawn back from the stage, the dismal miasma of our current existence dispersed" - this simile struck me as a bit odd, because a stage-curtain doesn't dissolve away ("disperse") when drawn.

"caressing my Stradivarius to me" - again, the combination of words rang a little strangely here - can caressing be directional, and does a violinist pull his instrument towards him?

"A shrill bellow slaughtered the sweet butterfly" - at this moment, I got the mental image of an enraged bull crashing across the metaphorical glade, which was possibly not entirely inappropriate!

"the same area my own ear judged to be the affront" - the source of the affront? I don't think it was the area itself that he was hearing...

"a window on the opposite side of the street banged opened" - typo (open)

"Back and forth like trebuchets on a battlefield" - an interestingly archaic image; Erik is presumably betraying a classical education here!

"Were it not for the clothing speaking of their ethnicity, it should be simple to know by which shouter in the match spurred them to censorship and thus which of the offending lads they understood" - this is an extremely convoluted construction, and one that frankly puzzled me for some time.
I think either the "by" or the "and thus" needs to be removed - you can't use both, and I assume this is an editing error where the author changed tack in mid-flow and/or combined two sentences. But I really feel it needs a complete rewrite for clarity, both logical and grammatical; that leading "were it not" suggests a contradiction which doesn't appear to be present.
"Even had their clothing not betrayed their ethnicity, it would have been easy to tell which of the two in the shouting match they understood by which set of insults spurred them to censorship"?

Also, "I cringed at the mothers" makes it sound as if he found the *mothers* offensive; is he cringing in sympathy? Though that seems a bit out of character for Erik...
And presumably the "offending lads" are the men and not the children, though the juvenile implication is confusing if so.

"Humanity," I muttered. "Of all the foolish things to beat a breast over" - as an answer to Blanjini's question, this implies that "humanity" is the cause of the row and a foolish thing to fuss about, whereas in fact I think "Humanity" is probably intended as a reproachful exclamation on Erik's part!

"I doubted either one held command over the others tongue. But they had just enough grasp to know they'd been insulted" - ah, I was wondering how they were managing to have a mutually unintelligible argument :-)
N.B. typo: other's

I do wonder what suddenly caused O'Leary to start yelling across the street at a man who didn't even have his window open - something must have triggered him off. Some offence his wife had just recounted, perhaps?

"None could escape the interrupting display" - I'm not sure one can describe a display which interrupts people as an "interrupting display" :-(
I think the verb needs to *be* a verb: "None could escape the display interrupting all and sundry"?

"They appear to be engaging in a long brewing argument" - "a long-brewing argument" (unless it was really a lengthy discussion about fermentation... one of those cases where a hyphen makes all the difference to the meaning :-D)

I see that Blanjini is not only a Roumanian but also a Jew (unless he's given to quoting proverbs from across Eastern Europe!) It certainly sounds like a wise Jewish saying...

"What a trivial difference it makes from which country we came from" - repeated "from"

"to these two men it appears to be the vital" - just "appears to be vital" (or "the vital thing", maybe?
So that's the root of the whole argument; intolerance between different groups of immigrants (or, to each man, the fact that the other even *exists*).
To Erik, of course, the mere fact that they both have noses puts them both on the right side of a great gulf that divides him from the rest of humanity.

"Ask any who fell in Roumania" - I'm wondering if this is an allusion to a pogrom now, or if Blanjini's presence in the New World (and perhaps his blindness) is due to some more politically-fuelled uprising. Presumably part of the character's existing backstory?

"only a blind man saw me as human" - ah, it hadn't occurred to me that there was a significance to Blanjini beyond the standard 'blind street musician' trope... but naturally he has never seen Erik, and may not even know of the mask.

"why should I consider such a notion conceivable that even they would ever accept me" - the "such" sounds extraneous to me in this sentence. I think it's because it by convention refers to something already defined; you could perfectly well write here "why should I consider the notion conceivable that[...]", but to use "such", the notion [i.e. the acceptance] would need to come first.

The Italians (or at least the Neapolitans) and the Irish are both well-known for their folk tunes, after all :-)
And as you point out, neither of the musicians is actually native to either country, so both sets of emigrants have an export to be proud of!

"His feet beat a rapid tattoo the tune" - typo: missing "to"

Oops; it looks as if Erik has inadvertantly sparked a dance-off in place of a shouting-match! Even more disruptive so far as the street traffic is concerned, but presumably more artistically pleasing to the ear from his point of view...

"you piece of meat to vile for the street cur to take!" - typo ("too")

"Rossi, clapped his hands" - typo: comma

"My week old son" - "week-old" (it's an adjective)

I take it this is Erik's translation of what they actually said, rather than both men switching into English for mutual comprehensibility?

"I could not determine one from the other" - doubtless the moral of the story...

A neat little piece of back-story about the Saturday habits of the Bowery (and Erik's experience thereof) introduced seamlessly here; "predominantly it was the view of the inside of a bucket" is an elegantly succinct way of conveying the after-effects, too!

"being far to polite" - typo: "too"

"The life-affirming need to let her voice drift in the air" - is "her" the violin here? (Or I suppose "she" could even be Music herself; either way the pronoun falls somewhat unexplained into the paragraph.)

"by the tide of mirth spreading through the Bowery so it seemed that the weekly holiday of the downtrodden had come early" - the "so" seems out of place in this sentence.

"They displayed fierce grins as the rules of their confrontation changed" - I initially understood from this that the nature of the confrontation was changing again, but in fact I think this is just a reference back to the earlier switch from yelling to dancing, isn't it? The verbs used seem to imply a current change :-(

"coaxing Rossi and O'Leary to the line in turn" - I assumed "toed the line" in the previous paragraph was a metaphor, but this sounds more as if it's literal; if it *is* an extended metaphor, I'm not sure it works (in any case, you'd be toeing the line at the start of a match, not alternately during the fight, wouldn't you?)

I like the image that the musicians have now taken over and are manipulating the 'combat' according to their own designs (which is of course very apt to Erik the master-puppeteer).

One word between them. "Ale." - presumably that one actually is in English? :-)

"a mighty emperor once was driven mad by the spell of a little bird's voice" - I definitely get the impression from this extract of Blanjini as a character who speaks in parables and analogies, the archetypal wise old mystic.

"One should perish such a thought" - "perish the thought" is a subjunctive wish, "may the thought perish" (like "long live the King!") I'm not sure one can actually "perish" thoughts as an active verb - Erik seems to have got his metaphors a little confused. (But then of course he is presumably speaking English here, which is not by any means his native tongue...)

"For I have already made that mistake and lost the heart of my greatest treasure, dear Blanjini. Just as it drives me, music is the true bewitcher of every soul" - this is clearly a reference to Christine, but I'm not clear what he means by it. He lost the heart of his greatest treasure by taking his gift lightly and/or because music bewitched her soul?
12/31/2017 c1 70dust on the wind
I'm coming to this from the WA One-Word Prompt Challenge; my familiarity with the fandom is limited to a basic general knowledge of 19th century literature, so to all intents I'm reading it as a stand-alone story. On that basis, I am very favourably impressed.

There's a real sense of place about this. The description of the Bowery, without wasting words, creates a genuine multi-sensory feel of squalor and dirt, as experienced by your protagonist. It's filthy, and crowded, and noisy. And then, there is the music, at first delicate and beautiful, and then, when it needs to be, vigorous and strong and alive. The music is almost a character in its own right - your evocation of it affected me very strongly, in particularly the way it influenced the confrontation between O'Leary and Rossi. It's not easy to make music come alive in a strictly literary format, but it happens quite naturally and organically in this story.

I found your protagonist intriguing. As I'm not sufficiently versed in canon, I don't know how close he is to the original, but he certainly seems well-rounded - aware of his past obsession, grimly accepting how it has brought him here, and acceding to the necessities of his present situation. He's not resigned, nor is he bitter. If anything, he seems almost fatalistic - this is how it is, for now. His friendship with Blanjini, forged as much out of a love of music as a need to live, seems to go deeper than he realises. As for Blanjini, I found myself wanting to know more about his past, and how he, like his friend, has fallen so low. Although, given the outcome of the O'Leary/Rossi matter, maybe "low" is the wrong word. Such as it is, it's a positive result.

Excellent use of your prompt word - every aspect of the story is driven by music, without the point being laboured.

I liked this one a lot. Very well done.
12/3/2017 c1 8SpookyMormonHellDream
I've yet to review on any installation of this series, but I've been reading since Book One and I am absolutely in love with the stories you've been telling here. So many aspects of it have repeatedly broken and healed my heart - the plot is incredibly engaging. Likewise, your mastery of prose is stunning. My favorites have been those told from Erik's point of view, much like this one, because his introspection is so very poignant. On that note, onto the reason I'm here! This one-shot was quite lovely, and I was happy to have gotten the notification about it. Erik in the Bowery was such an integral part of who he became later, and glimpses into that time such as the one you've given us here are such a treat in their own bittersweet kind of way. I'm extremely impressed by how you actually incorporated your prompt and how well it worked here, though not altogether surprised, as you seem to be very much aware of the "drive" of music to the body and soul, if I'm interpreting this all correctly. Beautifully done, and made me fall in love with this Erik all over again. It was also nice to have Blanjini back for a time; his interactions with Erik have always been very well-written and mean so much to his life and character. Altogether, I really can't gush enough about how I love all these stories, but I wanted to at least note that here and say that I'm looking forward to anything and everything else you have in store!
11/30/2017 c1 40E.M.K.81
It seems Erik's efforts not to vomit after the Saturday night party didn't last all Sunday when he now remembers that he spend the weekend with his head in a bucket. ;-P

I like how you described music overcoming the racism. I like this story very much.
11/29/2017 c1 16Child of Dreams
(laughing joyfully)
11/29/2017 c1 9Diatomaceous
Beautiful language. You do fanfiction an honor!

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