Manila Envelope by Robert Starr

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Post May 05, 2007, 12:53:29 PM

Re: Manila Envelope by Robert Starr

Wow. Lee is noting the sensory input, and Jaimie discussed the lack of empathy for a character... Could it be my years of harping on the same things in stories is having an effect?

No, probably not. But I'm taking credit for it anyway. ;)

Actually, the first thing I wondered about was why were some of the flashbacks italic, and others not?

Rob, I've always liked your stories. I like this one. Like most of your tales, it leaves disturbing images simmering in our subconscious. David is not vile, he's not evil, but he's not lovable, either. He's someone who's hurt, jealous for the love of his father, and then he goes too far.

David is just a guy, a regular human being, who at the right point, does the wrong thing. Even if I didn't know, I would have said this reads like a Rob Starr story...

At first, I was going to agree with Jaimie. David isn't a very strong character. As it is, we barely get to love him before he's whacking Carol over the head with a shovel. But then again, he wouldn't be. That's not how you write. Your tales are not heroic accounts, sweeping tragedies, or overt horror. Your stories are more of a gentle, sad melody with occasionally chilling overtones.

Stick to what you do.

Still, I do think there is more room to generate more feeling for and from David. He holds his feelings in too much. Perhaps a tear in his eye when he comes back from a flashback, something like that. Not too much, just a bit to reveal just how much he hurts inside.

Also, I have to admit I had a spot of trouble "getting" the suds metaphor. I had to ponder that for a while.

Last edited by kailhofer on May 05, 2007, 12:54:01 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post May 07, 2007, 08:04:15 PM

Re: Manila Envelope by Robert Starr

I always love the old ‘Whack on the Head’ murder stories and this one had all the qualities needed. Hatred, envy, jealously---everything needed to drive an unstable mind into doing the one violent act that has been hashed over and over again, but still has not gone out of style. The whack over the head, yes!!

Robert Starr’s talent is vibrant and flowing. He took the old whack over the head story and made it his own by the use of good psychological drama.

The beginning of the story grabs your interest in what the envelope contains, and the dialogue between David and his wife further insures that the envelope contains a threat to David’s wife.

Her actions are driven by some knowledge since “She pulled one rubber glove off so it smacked and twisted into a yellow/white mangle landing in a heap on the counter beside the sink.” That action must suggest stress!! And placing both hands over the sink is a mannerism that shows a defensive action between the two “Just open the thing” then after the hands are placed, “Just open it.”

Your interest in what’s going to happen is set between David’s youth, a camping trip with his father, and his wife who knows what David feels but seems unable to change him!

The remainder of the story develops naturally, and Robert uses symbolism---references to the soap suds--to bridge the beginning of  David’s anguish to the final act that will set him free!

Good use of description and that of generating the right feelings when David was in the cemetery. The sounds, the plane, and the stars that have watched David for years were played out very strategically in developing the right mood for the reader. And after the mood was set, the whack on the head became a crescendo fulfilling David’s deep, violent hatred of Carol.

I liked it!!!
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