The Moonshine Monarch and the Elm by P.F. White


Tell us what you thought of the June 2010 issue!

Master Critic

Posts: 858

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Johnstown, Pa.

Post June 21, 2010, 11:58:42 PM

The Moonshine Monarch and the Elm by P.F. White

I’m as Viet-Nam Vet and can testify that we could not take our M-16’s home. However, during
the early ‘60s, returning vets did take captured AK-47s home with them. I think that ended in ‘65.

When in Nam I wanted out as soon as possible. But I did run into soldiers and marines who reenlisted for another tour of duty in Nam. So a guy spending four tours in Nam just might be true. Viet-Nam, depending on where your were station, could be a hell on earth, or, and I say this
from experience, a near paradise. When I went on R&R I met airmen and soldiers stationed in Saigon that had almost paradise type duty. They worked 8 hours a day, then had the evening off, going into Saigon and enjoying the night life. Us guy in the 101st Airborne didn’t have it so good. Our night life up north was bunker guard.

The story is an entertaining one with the right amount of show and tell. A little more showing would have helped , but for the most part a workable balance did exit.

I don’t know if Lucas just experienced his hell in his own mind, or if the guy with green teeth
really exited. Something was happening with Lucas---or maybe it was all in his head.

In all honesty, I didn’t understand the events taking place. If the story was just event driven for entertainment purposes, then it worked very well. If the Elm tree symbolized purpose or sanity that Lucas craved for, the story gets involved and the guy with green teeth must be the enemy.
I really don’t know how to interpret this story since so many avenues are open.

It reminded me of the move Jacob’s Ladder

The story was entertaining and that’s what a short work like this one is suppose to do!!

Really liked it!!
Tesla Lives!!!
User avatar

Master Critic

Posts: 1178

Joined: October 06, 2008, 06:53:45 AM

Location: Chantilly VA

Post June 22, 2010, 04:56:15 PM

MOONSHINE

WOW!

This one sticks. I'll take it to the grave with a few others that moved me. I'm going to print it out and read it on my vacation.

I can understand. One day I will tell you, if I meet you.

Thanks,

RT
User avatar

Master Critic

Posts: 1317

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Kentucky

Post July 07, 2010, 05:09:17 PM

Moonshine Monarch

To me, this story had the flavor of a Lovecraft tale. The story deals with the idea that there are some powers so ancient that they cannot be called evil: they simply are, and whatever needs they have are beyond a human sense of right and wrong. It especially has the feel that there is more to a forest than choloplast and bark - there are spirits there, just beyond the treeline, that are lurking, occasionally being shaken into awakeness by a familiar voice or phrase.
It might be the feeling one gets when they can no longer see which way the sunlight is puddled on the upper branches. That is where the fear begins, you are the forest's at that point, spirits ancient, old, ever watching. Humans tend to say, "We are above nature, we have a soul" - but a story like this can remind us that we are closer to the dirt than we would like to admit.
Lucas Black has come back from a war with PTSD, but his apprehension is easy to understand as we have all seen our own wars. Whether we watche the treeline with violent memories, or we keep our eyes pealed as we walk on concrete, that feeling of controlled chaos is common to all of us.
I like Lucas black - I know him. Whether his name is Cliff or Jesse or Chris, he's familiar to me. I liked the sentence "The man seemed to notice the posture of his audience for the first time..." This sentence makes the reader step back for a moment and 'see' the three men talking inside the store. Very nice. I didn't like the phrase "'cept raised up for that in-flation." - hill folk aren't necessarily stupid - they're smart enough to survive under the dire-est of circumstances.
I would have cut back on the phrase "some folks would call...but others knew better." Twice would have been enough, three times would have pushed it, but over and over again was just plain irritating. Maybe I'm wrong about that - other people may have a different point of view on that.
The Moonshine Monarch and the Elm is a story written well enough to give you an itch at the back of your skull as you direct your glance towards the distant treeline. Maybe Lucas Black was crazy, maybe not - who knows what lurks up in the deep of a mountain forest.
Since the house is on fire - at least let us warm ourselves.
User avatar

Long Fiction Editor

Posts: 2642

Joined: January 11, 2010, 12:03:56 AM

Location: by the time you read this, I'll be somewhere else

Post July 07, 2010, 11:00:42 PM

I would have cut back on the phrase "some folks would call...but others knew better." Twice would have been enough, three times would have pushed it, but over and over again was just plain irritating. Maybe I'm wrong about that - other people may have a different point of view on that.
I also found that annoying. I've seen little phrases used like this, and they can be very powerful in tying a story together -- even in a novel-length story -- but, once near the beginning and once at the end is all it takes. Likewise with this one:
Lucas Black was a man who believed in getting things done, hard work, and dedication
and I think there's yet another. Those repetitions take on a sing-song quality after a while -- not good.

Other than that -- and the exaggerated speech mannerisms -- it was wonderful; characterization was outstanding, and the creepy mood was inescapable.

Overall, quite good; it did the job very well.
I was raised by humans. What's your excuse?
User avatar

Master Critic

Posts: 845

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Knoxville, Tennessee    USA

Post July 08, 2010, 02:25:54 PM

I think Mr. White did an outstanding job with this one.

Having been born and raised in West Virginia, I have been aware of the ‘Green Man’ stories, for years. They date back to pre-Christian Europe, at least, and were brought over with the original settlers. That he was someone not to be trifled with was a given, in the local culture.

But this story has another side, one that we don’t often see written, and I liked it. As bottomdweller mentioned, the ‘natural’ spirits are seen as more amoral, than evil. But they are a capricious lot, and powerful within their element.

But there is a reason they are hard to find, and haunt the lonely, unpopulated parts of the world. That reason is us. We bring the fire and the axes and the iron. One moral to this story is that we too, are a force of nature, and not to be trifled with. Lucas Black was given a true gift, with the tree. Once she showed up, his dreams were untroubled. Not bad for the price of a jug of moonshine.

It was only when the Green Man forgot the basics of commerce, that he was reminded of the force that he was dealing with. He seemed to forget that once you make a transaction, you can’t try to up the price. He also forgot that once humans claim and work the land, it becomes our element.

Excellent, truly.

A few quibbles about spelling and wrong words, nothing major. And I agree with the complaints about the use of colloquial diction, it rarely works, even when you know it quite well.

The quibble about the M-16 is accurate, though at the time you could probably buy one once you got back in-country. Of course, outside of old Hollywood movies, moonshine is sold in clear Mason jars, not in jugs. Seeing the color and whether there is any sludge settling to the bottom is at least half the judgment of its quality.

Well done.

Bill Wolfe
"I am Susan Ivanova. . . .I am the Right Hand of Vengence. . .I am Death Incarnate, and the last living thing that you are ever going to see. God sent me."

Return to June 2010

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by STSoftware.