Blackout ~ BeeDrew

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Blackout ~ BeeDrew

Post by Zara » ... ckou2.html

For "Blackout," I'm going to give a running commentary as I read the story for the first time. Changes up the reading pattern and records first impressions. :)

Okay. First off: three paragraphs in, and the story is perfectly introduced. Wow. Character, setting, attitude, emotional state, narrative voice, foundation problem for the tale. It's all there. I am impressed.

The very next paragraph sets the story clearly after "Orphans" and segues neatly into a flashback. No matter what else happens, the writing rocks.

Hmmm. The rubber band, squirt gun, and Lord-and-Master are a bit much for me, though. Out of character for both Joe and Catherine. Thing about Joe: he's a New York gentleman, white collar professional with blue collar roots. A guy with Joe's ethics does not shoot rubber bands at the high-class lady he likes. It's not how he was raised. No, his way is to offer an exchange of sharp-witted banter. Squirt-gun-packing Cathy doesn't jive either, Escobar's niece or no Escobar's niece, August or not. Sorry, but Catherine does not play with guns. Too much baggage there.

Joe's exit: again, the setting renders beautifully. It is so refreshing to have fanfic characters existing in tangible locations!

New data: this is post-Watcher too. Casual drop about "that head-case." Well done.

Yeah, Pat, the "shiver of automatic apprehension, bred into him by a protective parent" grates like a rake on concrete. "Shields up!" for this reader, as the Trekkie saying goes.

"A guilty pleasure, this display of his strength, but one he did not deny himself when he was alone." Again, a twinge of out-of-character-ness here. This is the author showing Vincent's prowess off to the reader. I don't feel Vincent behaves this way; his relationship with his body is (a) not founded upon tension between dignity and guilt, and (b) also not founded upon self-denial. I can understand how others might reach these conclusions (a la the "Why hasn't he jumped into bed with Catherine yet?! There must be a REASON!" mindset). It is not an interpretation that rings true in my imagination.

Important character fact, casually delivered: Zeke abhors darkness. I'm thinking: foreshadowing.

First thought at reading the kids on a field trip to the art museum: And they are all wearing...what? In Tunnels garb, in a group, they'll stick out terribly in public. Next related problem: wistful Vincent. I'm beginning to fear that this author subscribes to the Vincent-as-helpless-shut-in vision of our Beast. Ack! And past bitterness? Latent chafing? The rake returns.

Now the author connects the dots. Fear of darkness. Yiddish. Auschwitz. A sympathetic characterization of Zeke.

Pop. Suspension of disbelief takes another hit. Vincent is not suceptible to city-think. It is neither his culture nor his nature. New thought: This is a story told from the Topside-Down, not the underworld-Up.

Jangling bracelets and impossibly tortured hair. I love it. Totally 80s teen!

Joe stuck in the subway is amazing. The NYC characters, setting again, the foreboding, the fight. I'm envious of the writer's skill.

And holy cow, the author makes good use of each character in play. Gets a lot of mileage out of the pregnant woman as a focal point for character motivations.

Gift Ninja. Score. *chuckles*

"It was rare for his empathy to touch those to whom he was not close." I'm always interested to see how different storytellers handle Vincent's empathic powers. Here is a defining comment.

"If help did not come soon, he would have to take Joe to Father. He winced at the thought; it was easy to envision his parent's displeasure." I wince too.

Joe telling his story to a generous listener is deeply satisfying.

Vincent's voice as an asset in the courtroom. *smiles* Oh, you betcha.

Everything Vincent says about Father holds together for me...until, CLANK..."resentful" drops the ball. This bitter resentment stuff in Vincent, all of it directed at Father and by implication the limits Father rankles. This is not the Vincent and not the Father I know and love from the series.

"Lest he be discovered, Vincent faded noiselessly back into his world, where darkness was not an emergency, but a blessing." *happy sigh* Now that is a lovely line of prose.

I love Cathy's get-well gift of newspapers. *That* is quite in character for both her and Joe.

Vincent and Catherine's traditional epilogue balcony scene. Lovely V&C time. The private joke between author and reader about Catherine's legs is cute. But Vincent's final Father know, I think BeeDrew's Vincent is deeply afraid of his own Father. Everything given in this story adds up to an interior sense of fear and wounded anger. It leaves a bad smell in the story aether.

So here's me, combining two atmospheric conceptualizations. First, the ease with which Tunnelfolk seem to come and go between the worlds...except for Vincent. Second, Vincent's grating fear of his Father's objections to participation in the world Above. Both conditions are bridged by Vincent's desire to go more fully Above, and both are used to highlight Vincent's unique self-limitations against pursuing his desire. This combination tells me that the storyteller has anchored Vincent's disabling social limitations, not in the upperworld society of the city Above, but solely in the character of Father, who is mentioned often but never appears in person and so is not permitted to give any account of himself. This is probably a good thing. Just from reading this piece, I cannot imagine that BeeDrew's Father character could be anyone other than a villain.

I stick with the fanfiction-written-by-a-mainstream-Topsider impression. Heaping the blame for Vincent's struggles onto Father, implying that *Father* alone is responsible for the limitations in Vincent's life, lets Topside "normality" off the hook. If the Father commentary had not been so completely negative, I would have found this a stronger story. I realize Vincent needed to be reflecting upon his own father in order for he and Joe to have that moment of healing connection in the subway. But the one-sided trickle of anti-Father sentiment sours the rest of the tale for me. This B&B universe has veered from true north. Fabulous writing, solid story (it could have been an actual episode!). But dumping on Father skews all the other characters.

That's my litmus test, these days. If the writer does not get Father right, they don't get the other characters quite right either.

Entertaining and instructive read.

~ Zara

[Edited to add story link]
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