Upside-down by Emma Horn


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Post December 17, 2010, 02:14:38 PM

Upside-down by Emma Horn

Upside-Down by Emma Horn

Let’s get to the question right away: is the author of this story a high-school sophomore in Boston? – Really?

“Just last week, in fact, almost a quarter of the world's population was in a bathroom at the same time (or some third world variant of a bathroom), shattering the previous record, and no one knew. Molly Collins, age 20 from Liverpool, England, should have her own record for most times saying the word "effervescent" before reaching legal voting age.”

Do 14-year-olds really talk this way in Boston, let alone write like this? This is a 3282 word story, and it is all as sophisticated as the above. Really? The phrase that bothers me most in the paragraph above, for instance, is ‘reaching legal voting age’. This author hasn’t even reached legal voting age herself, so why is she using this phrase?

The overall content of the entire piece is fluffy – there’s no real depth to the characters, or the situation, which might be a reflection of the mind of a child. But truly, dear reader, look over this story and tell me your opinion – a child of 14 or something fishy going on, maybe a LOT of help from mommy and daddy, or perhaps a teacher. Things that make you go hmmmmm????
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Post December 31, 2010, 02:05:44 PM

[font=Courier New]Hi. I just wanted to say that I am Emma's father and (i) She's actually 16 not 14 (she was 15 when she wrote "Upside-Down"), and (ii) she really did write this story without any assistance. I think her mom and I fixed a couple of grammatical mistakes--that's it. She's always been a precocious writer.

You may be interested to hear that "Upside-Down" was rejected by her high school literary mag. Maybe the autism remarks turned them off? Dunno. This year, she sent them something about a girl who fools a reality show into believing that her house is disgusting enough to be on TV for a makeover. It's pretty funny, I think, but, admittedly, I'm kind of biased.

Best,

W[/font]
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Post January 02, 2011, 07:06:35 PM

upside down

As far as the autism comments, children with down syndrome don't fare very well either. My daughter noticed it - she has a masters in special ed. I figure authors can say whatever the bleep they want - I may not agree with what you say but I'll - well, you know.
I think putting this story 100 years in the future was too distant. 7-11s and buying potatoes, doesn't add up a century from now. Slushies? - those too will pass. And children walking to the store on the corner, naked or not - I just can't see it happening in a century, they barely do it now. Cookies & six flags? - not important 100 years from now.
I like the way all the characters are interconnected with the 7-11. Funny!
"Autistics are Just Like You & Me - if not better" - reminds me of the book "theGift of Dyslexia" Some gift as you're trying to type in a 14 -character series of numbers and letters!
The whole thing with the agreement to leave Australia alone, really, doesn't make a lot of sense - ergo the movie, "On The Beach".
In the 2 Bittersweet Lane part, there's another joke about Down's syndrome and ultrasounds - is this a reflection of a 14-year-old's environment? - I'm still lost.
I liked the 'nothing riddle' in section 3 - but where did she hear it, "A Riddle a Day" or Paul Harvey? - both seem so unlikely!
Wally is an autisic savant (again with the jokes about handicaps - odd). As far as peristalsis - does that really work while standing on your head? - wouldn't liquid go up your nose (or soft foods chewed up and saliva-tized?)
3 Bittersweet lane - a picture of Amelia's thunderous beauty - love it. The best part of this story is how everyone is so connected in unusualy ways.
Old Alex Trebek sounding like a young Cher? - how would a 14-year-old know? - why wouldn't she say "sounding like Brittany Spears..."??? I don't get it. Her age is just distracting! Paul Harvey, Alec Trebek, Cher? - does she only talk with adults? Pizza delivery at the door - not in 2109.
"Dear, they don't sell potatoes at the 7-11," said Howard. Great punchline for this entire story. I really like it!
Why does Howard have an antique TV from 1999? A century old? - no piece of technology will be in use a century from now - it won't be able to recieve signals, even.
I love the ending because it is so vague. The tears cried upside down, while the wife really doesn't know why she wanted to kill her paralyzed husband - again the handicapped are expendable & to be scorned.
Wow. Others should read this just as a way to tromp around inside this girl's mind.
Perhaps it's a companion of brillance? What do the rest of you think???
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Post January 03, 2011, 12:07:30 AM

I think peristalsis works upside down, sideways and backways (just in case you get hungry on the Wonkavator).

If the question is "How old is the author?" I am not sure that I have the answer. However, I do have a question of my own. How does knowing the author's age change our appreciation of the story? Remember, the author is supposed to be "dead" in the post modernist era. The author does not have an age. We assign the author an age.

"I told him I had been that morning at a meeting of the people called Quakers, where I had heard a woman preach. Johnson: "Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."
Boswell: Life"
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Post January 03, 2011, 11:50:56 AM

age

Did you read it? - I am amazed that a 14-year-old could write something like this. Read it - you'll see what I'm talking about.
I have a degree in Education and spent 2 years grading essay questions for national 'No Child Left Behind' tests - and none of the sophmore essays that I graded came anywheres close to this. Like I say, Read This Story - and then we'll talk.
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Post January 03, 2011, 08:07:08 PM

Yes, I read it. I would have to meet the author and hear how she talks before I could tell you if she likely wrote it or not. I was reading Joyce, Faulkner and Woolfe when I was a sophmore in high school and my writing (mostly poetry but some fiction) reflected that.

I threw in the Boswell quote, because I am not one who believes that a woman preaching or a kid writing is amazing in itself. Poet Arthur Rimbaud wrote almost almost all his work in his teens. Thomas Chatterton died at 17. And yes, I mention Chatterton, because it opens up a great big can of literary worms.

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Post January 04, 2011, 12:12:50 PM

Re: age

bottomdweller wrote:I have a degree in Education and spent 2 years grading essay questions for national 'No Child Left Behind' tests - and none of the sophmore essays that I graded came anywheres close to this.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy"

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Post January 04, 2011, 03:35:22 PM

Heart Worming Analogy

McCamy_Taylor wrote:...it opens up a great big can of literary worms.


Literary worm...is that like a book worm?
.
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Post January 04, 2011, 05:25:47 PM

upside down

The upshoot of all this is that I am delighted to have read one of the early works of an author who might become very successful. I very much look forward to reading other stories in this ezine by this young author. The thing that honed my interest is that she seems to have very solidified opinions about the world, and she is not afraid to express them in writing. That's a very good thing - even though those opinions will probably change as life experiences occur.
The way the characters were connected, the way the plot is exposed through the character's actions, the way the future world (I'd place it 35 years in the future, instead of 100) is reflected through the daycare's mission statement - all of these are excellent writing techniques.
I look forward to reading other stories by this author.
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Post January 06, 2011, 10:15:38 PM

I found it delightful. It reminded me of the movie "Idiocracy" -- there's a disconnect that becomes the focus of some of the very wry wit here: if nobody is smart enough to get the answer, then who was smart enough to ask the question?

I liked the structure of it, too: the four houses, with something going on in each one, all explaining the unexplainable.

Very little of it made sense, but didn't need to; it was just very funny. Maybe like Zen koan humor, I'm not sure. Off-center, for certain. Not the kind of thing to laugh out loud at; more like quietly grin.

I'd be more than happy to see other work from this author.
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Post January 07, 2011, 04:02:45 PM

This young lady can really write.

I'm glad we've had some measure of independant verification about this, or I may have expected some shenannigans, same as bottomdweller.

This level of sophistication is something I've never seen from a 15 year-old. Ever.

Very well done. No real complaints, but I'm still not sure what the 'puffs' were supposed to be.

And yes McCamy, it does make a difference what you know about the author. It shouldn't, but it does.

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Post January 08, 2011, 10:32:03 PM

As to the age of the author, by the way, I have no problem believing her to be as presented.

Everyone commenting on this so far has looked at what is in the story: good vocabulary, sentence structure, a lot of trivia knowledge, etc. . . . a certain level of mechanical skill. I had most of that when I was fifteen; especially the vocabulary.

What I see (besides the obvious above) is what is not in the story: a deep, complex level of emotional content which would indicate a writer with experience in the world. There is no real conflict-resolution here.

My guess is that this girl has not had her heart broken yet; she hasn't faced the kind of coming-of-age experiences that cause one to ask the hard questions about life. I don't think that one who writes this well would exclude such matter from her work.

I only hope that, when such things do happen to her, that they sharpen her as a writer, instead of breaking her. But, I'm thinking they will.
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Post January 09, 2011, 02:52:30 AM

Upside Down Under

I for one am glad that Australia will survive the forthcoming nuclear holocaust. All those wallabies, opossums, kangaroos and koalas need somewhere to walk around standing on their heads practicing upside down peristalsis on the potatoes they bought at the 7-11. Naked, of course. They are not barbarians.
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Post January 11, 2011, 01:18:43 PM

Re: upside down

bottomdweller wrote:again with the jokes about handicaps - odd

No, not about handicaps. About the way some undoubtly well meaning people are treating handicapped persons.

That being said, I have some quarrel with the author of my own. Let me express it with the words of DeShawn Williams from the story: "...little Red McCane. If that girl dies, I'll never forgive..." - well, OK, dear author, I forgive you.

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Post January 14, 2011, 12:21:57 PM

Re: 14

bottomdweller wrote:Upside-Down by Emma Horn

Let’s get to the question right away: is the author of this story a high-school sophomore in Boston? – Really?

“Just last week, in fact, almost a quarter of the world's population was in a bathroom at the same time (or some third world variant of a bathroom), shattering the previous record, and no one knew. Molly Collins, age 20 from Liverpool, England, should have her own record for most times saying the word "effervescent" before reaching legal voting age.”

Do 14-year-olds really talk this way (((in Boston - Emphasis Mine as Irrelevant))) , let alone write like this? This is a 3282 word story, and it is all as sophisticated as the above. Really? The phrase that bothers me most in the paragraph above, for instance, is ‘reaching legal voting age’. This author hasn’t even reached legal voting age herself, so why is she using this phrase?

The overall content of the entire piece is fluffy – there’s no real depth to the characters, or the situation, which might be a reflection of the mind of a child. But truly, dear reader, look over this story and tell me your opinion – a child of 14 or something fishy going on, maybe a LOT of help from mommy and daddy, or perhaps a teacher. Things that make you go hmmmmm????


Ya know Ms. Dweller, You have a valid question, but then you damage it with innuendo. I'm an ex enfant terrible with a hyperlexical vocabulary myself, and apparently 20 years later I'm still only understood half the time, and that's when I've already trimmed things down to make them easy. I operate somewhere between Teal Deer and "Shaka, When The Walls Fell".

So yes, it is perfectly fine for this precocious lass to have produced this story.

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Post January 14, 2011, 12:41:27 PM

McCamy_Taylor wrote:I think peristalsis works upside down, sideways and backways (just in case you get hungry on the Wonkavator).

If the question is "How old is the author?" I am not sure that I have the answer. However, I do have a question of my own. How does knowing the author's age change our appreciation of the story? Remember, the author is supposed to be "dead" in the post modernist era. The author does not have an age. We assign the author an age.

"I told him I had been that morning at a meeting of the people called Quakers, where I had heard a woman preach. Johnson: "Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."
Boswell: Life"


It does change matters, because we like precocity when it appears. They used to call it "Celebrated", and make it the case example of something for years. Now we're too blurred by data-crash, so simultaneously we can see more examples than ever before and yet Dweller might hit a drought.

My Exhibit A for 15 year olds is Christopher Paolini of Eragon fame.

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Post January 14, 2011, 12:45:34 PM

Lester Curtis wrote:As to the age of the author, by the way, I have no problem believing her to be as presented.

Everyone commenting on this so far has looked at what is in the story: good vocabulary, sentence structure, a lot of trivia knowledge, etc. . . . a certain level of mechanical skill. I had most of that when I was fifteen; especially the vocabulary.

What I see (besides the obvious above) is what is not in the story: a deep, complex level of emotional content which would indicate a writer with experience in the world. There is no real conflict-resolution here.

My guess is that this girl has not had her heart broken yet; she hasn't faced the kind of coming-of-age experiences that cause one to ask the hard questions about life. I don't think that one who writes this well would exclude such matter from her work.

I only hope that, when such things do happen to her, that they sharpen her as a writer, instead of breaking her. But, I'm thinking they will.


I agree with Lester here, though you can freely exclude trauma from writing to keep the emotional quotient down. It's a case example of what writing is for, to capture the best and keep it pure.

I spent a year at about age 16 crafting a role-play persona of a war veteran, because those kinds of traumas are actually easy to portray since they are well documented. Someone told me that I gave myself away because the "technic" was there but I was making the "you don't know the difference between a Corporal and a Captain" types of mistakes.
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Post February 01, 2011, 12:28:46 PM

Gods rot you spammers . . .
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