Billy Goes to Werkworth by Robert Starr


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Post July 13, 2005, 11:30:07 AM

Re: Billy Goes to Werkworth by Robert Starr

Lord, did I screw up another blurb? This was another of Rob Starr's explorations of no-monsters-required horror, to wit, our treatment of the mentally ill. We ignore 'em until they make a nuisance of themselves -- then lock 'em away and medicate them into oblivion unless there's somebody to fight for them. Nobody fought for Billy -- although the narrator (feeling guilty for having pushed him over the edge?) might have, if he'd had more time.<br><br>Were Billy's demons 'real'? I asked Rob if he might drop a hint that perhaps they were -- but he declined, since the situation was horrible enough without bringing in an X-Files beastie of some sort.<br><br>Say ... how do I know that YOU are real? Maybe I just imagined that comment of yours ... Get away from me with that syringe! No! No straitjacket! NO!<br><br>Robert (They're all mad save thee and me -- no, scratch that ...) M.
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Post July 13, 2005, 02:38:45 PM

Re: Billy Goes to Werkworth by Robert Starr

I think I'm real.
Everyone else goes away some times, but I'm always right here.
Dan
<br><br>Ah, but what if YOU are all in your head? Or all OUT of your head, out of your tree, off your rocker, two legs short of a centipede(?) ...<br><br>Robert (closing in on 600 posts, most of them drivel like this one) M.
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Post July 18, 2005, 10:52:13 AM

Re: Billy Goes to Werkworth by Robert Starr

 what actually happens, or so I've heard, is the Goth kids tour the tunnels late at night. If that isn't a Steven King hook, I dont' know what is. :o
<br><br>Didn't they already do a movie with a similar premise (or at least on similar premises ::)) -- 'Session 9'?<br><br>Robert M.
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Post July 18, 2005, 12:29:16 PM

Re: Billy Goes to Werkworth by Robert Starr

tell me more. Is it readily available? Anyway, Robert,you're from this neck of the woods. Does the "Whitby Psyc" ring any bells? (interesting choice of words, no?)
<br><br>***<br>Plot Summary for Session 9 (2001) (from imdb.com)<br><br>An asbestos abatement crew wins the bid for an abandoned insane asylum. What should be a straightforward, if rather rushed, job, is complicated by the personal histories of the crew. In particular, Hank is dating Phil's old girlfriend, and Gordon's new baby seems to be unnerving him more than should be expected. Things get more complicated as would-be lawyer Mike plays the tapes from a former patient with multiple personalities, including the mysterious Simon who does not appear until Session 9, and as Hank disappears after finding some old coins.<br><br>... and from a commentary by another contributor:<br><br>...The plot concerns an asbestos cleaning crew working in an cavernous, abandoned mental hospital (the real life Danvers State Hospital in Danvers, MA). Under a tight deadline to make a $10,000 bonus, tensions soon run high as they grow familiar and interact with the institution's history of lobotomies, multiple personality disorders, child abuse and gloomy incarceration. ...<br><br>The labyrinthine institution dominates the film and the actions of the characters. ...<br><br>***<br>Haven't seen the movie myself. It sounds like there may be hints of supernatural happenings -- but the real horror derives from the revelations of sadistic treatments used at the hospital in the past, and the disintegration of at least one of the crew's sanity (with gory results). imdb.com indicates that it should be available on DVD and on VHS, although it would probably be harder to find on tape these days.<br><br>***<br>Never heard of Whitby Psyc. I grew up (well, maybe) in London, Ontario, and we had our own Psychiatric Hospital. Dunno what the nickname for it was, or is ...<br><br>Robert M.
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Post July 18, 2005, 08:35:23 PM

Re: Billy Goes to Werkworth by Robert Starr

I looked upon this one not as a horror story, but a tale of sad failures.<br><br>Billy was locked inside his own head sure enough, but I was moved by the sorrow of his situation. Shunned by even a "friend" like the narrator, he freaks out and is sent away. Would he have been better for one friendly word from another soul? At Werkworth, the sanitized and sanctioned lack of real caring quite literally pushes Billy over the edge to his death. Outside, a ring of faceless white coats watches his death, while the one person who wanted to reach him runs away. The narrator is so into his own life and motivations, that he doesn't even have the courage to provide a friendly face for Billy to see before he passes into the beyond.<br><br>The narrator is "locked up" in a prison of his own selfishness and guilt, but he gets away and is called normal.<br><br>Distressing, and truly sad.<br><br>In terms of the storytelling, I'm with Dan E. on the melodramatic ending. I thought that was overdone, and took away some of the punch it should have had.<br><br>Nate
Last edited by kailhofer on July 18, 2005, 08:37:16 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post July 24, 2005, 12:17:51 AM

Re: Billy Goes to Werkworth by Robert Starr

I enjoyed this one for the sentences were balanced very well, and the story captivated me! Held my attention until the end, and I was never wishing that the story would end as I read it! <br><br>I'm not sure about what the author was trying to suggest. Perhaps nothing! After all, to write a story we need characters in it whether ghosts, aliens or one of the variety of humans.<br><br>A mental hospital would guard against easy access to a window. I don't know much about them, but I'm sure if that hospital were an old one, somebody through the years would have notice how easy a patient could jump out that window.<br><br>This author has talent and I hope he keeps publishing!<br><br>
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Post July 24, 2005, 03:14:42 PM

Re: Billy Goes to Werkworth by Robert Starr

I agree with the others that this is more mainstream/literary. There seems to be this dichotomy between genre and literary writers; they don’t seem to view each other’s works with much enthusiasm. That’s a shame, as I feel the perspectives are somewhat arbitrary and limiting.
<br>You find this surprising?<br><br>Literary fiction is widely considered the pejorative antonym of genre fiction, and I've certainly seen little crossover. <br><br>Lit. writers by and large consider genre fiction to be lowbrow and poorly crafted, since literary focus is on style and character for more educated markets. On the flip side, genre writers tend to think of lit. fiction as pretentious and deliberately obscured, as their focus is a plot that appeals to a mass market.<br><br>However, in this case, a few quibbles over the emotion or logic of the ending doesn't mean we genre writers are casting aspersions on the world of lit. fiction or in any way on the quality of Rob's story. I believe we all said we enjoyed this story, and were moved by its tone and content. IMO that's pretty good commentary for any story.<br><br>I think Robert M. would give his eye teeth for half that many comments on his story, no matter how it was viewed.<br><br>Nate
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Post July 24, 2005, 04:54:36 PM

Re: Billy Goes to Werkworth by Robert Starr

...I think Robert M. would give his eye teeth for half that many comments on his story, no matter how it was viewed.

Nate
<br><br>Sorry. Being a mutant, I never had adult eye teeth to give away, and the original 'baby' teeth got worn down to nothing. (I inherited the condition from my father. Apparently it occurs in some small percentage of the population. My mutant editorial powers are mine alone, however.)<br><br>Robert M.
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Post July 24, 2005, 09:35:26 PM

Re: Billy Goes to Werkworth by Robert Starr

I may not know literary from mainstream, but I knows what I likes.<br><br>Anybody remember good old Harlan Ellison? He was known to object strenuously when his work was labeled 'science fiction' (or worse, 'sci-fi'), at least partly because he knew that it would be ghettoized in the back corner of the bookstore, and never given a fancy stand-up display in the front window ... Now science fiction and fantasy bestsellers are commonplace, and the most popular outsell many 'mainstream' books by orders of magnitude. (Of course, a lot of best-selling diet and self-help books SHOULD be labeled 'fantasy' ...)<br><br>Robert M.
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Post July 24, 2005, 10:44:43 PM

Re: Billy Goes to Werkworth by Robert Starr

Sorry. Being a mutant, I never had adult eye teeth to give away, and the original 'baby' teeth got worn down to nothing. (I inherited the condition from my father. Apparently it occurs in some small percentage of the population. My mutant editorial powers are mine alone, however.)

Robert M.
<br>You mean another mutant power, beyond the ability to ignore virtually every bit of story advice I give you? :)<br><br>Nate
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Post July 24, 2005, 10:47:50 PM

Re: Billy Goes to Werkworth by Robert Starr

Many people think of mainstream and literary as the same style of writing. Actually, the opposite is true. Mainstream is itself a genre, just as are mystery, romance, and others. The opposite style of literary fiction is commercial fiction. Here's a few definitions...
<br>Good job, Donald.<br><br>There were a few in there that I couldn't honestly have told you what the difference was, and I'm saving those for future reference. Thanks!<br><br>Nate
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Post July 24, 2005, 11:01:53 PM

Re: Billy Goes to Werkworth by Robert Starr

Sometimes I think about what classification my stuff fits into,but then I give my head a shake and just start writing again. LOL ( What I mean is, I'm not the kind of writer who tries to write for a certain market or genre; most of the time, the story just writes itself over several months and revisions where it goes its own way)
What's the process like for someone who leans more toward a specific genre?
<br>I certainly couldn't say for everyone. With Another Sarah, the opener just came to be and I went with it. With a zombie piece I'm trying to peddle in paying markets now, I started with the concept "What is something that is scary?"<br><br>Zombies were classic genre staples, so I went with that. Being the target of zombies is scary, so I used that, but I also wondered if it could be scary to be the zombie. A few minutes later, I was writing.<br><br>My Nightwatch piece may be the only other piece that I had to have a specific outcome before I got very far into it, and it made it very difficult for me to write. I couldn't just let things finish as they would.<br><br>Most of the time I suspect genre writers just begin stories just the same as you do, but their imaginations already run along the lines of genre fiction.<br><br>Haven't you ever started on a piece and after a paragraph or so got a feeling about what kind of story it would be at the end? Is that much different?<br><br>Nate
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Post July 25, 2005, 06:56:47 AM

Re: Billy Goes to Werkworth by Robert Starr

...and I wonder how many have started a story, all planned and outlined, and after a few paragraphs the story takes on a life of its own and almost writes itself. And how many are sometimes surprised by things their characters say and do? I'm serious.

Donald
<br>Well, I don't outline things, or I stop writing the story. Once I know how something's going to end I don't feel the need to write it any more. Writing for me is more like "directed" dreaming.<br><br>I am almost always surprised by my story openers, since except for that aforementioned zombie tale, every other one was something straight out of my subconscious. I then look at what I've written and try to see if what I've got is strong enough to be turned into a bigger story or instead left as an entry in an ever-larger ideas file.<br><br>The other time I'm surprised is when I've forgotten I've written something, such as a revision to a ten or fifteen-year old story. Then, once I find that new passage, I'm just as delighted as when I wrote it. More probably, since it doesn't strike me as all that clever when I'm writing it the first time.<br><br>Does anyone else do something like that?<br><br>Nate
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