Coffin Varnish by Charles EJ Moulton

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Lester Curtis
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Re: Coffin Varnish by Charles EJ Moulton

Post by Lester Curtis »

First impression: this story is packed with mutilated metaphors, right from the start. Example:
The fabric of time seemed to slow down indefinitely and as her heartbeat accelerated, the dust sailed to the ground in an almost immobile fashion. The breath of time exhaled its microbes in microscopic fashion
Fabric can go fast or slow down? Time not only breathes, but breathes microbes? And, when I read the word 'sail,' I think of something moving very quickly, not 'almost immobile.'

A pocket-watch referred to as a 'stone.'

Okay, the writer is displaying a damn-the-details-and-fling-it-at-the-page attitude. It's ballsy, and results in some colorful and surprising phrases. Maybe not logically correct, but definitely not cliched, and that much is good.

Details do matter, though, and sloppiness with those is a different thing from creating mashup metaphors. In the fight scene, you've got:
Sylvia thrusted her left knee into the man's back and threw up his chin.
(Oh, and that should be "thrust," not "thrusted." And "yanked up his chin" would probably be better.)

Okay, he's face-down ... but wait--
Sylvia straddled the man . . . She groaned, thrust her pelvis onto his crotch
What?? If he's still face-down, his crotch is against the floor.

And this confusion continues. BTW, I thought this was going to end in sex.

High points:
"Randolph," Sylvia screamed, her rugged voice shooting out into the empty saloon. "I'm hungry." A sarcastic chuckle bubbled up from her belly and hit her lips. "Give me your heart, you little bastard!"
Loved that.

And 'coffin varnish' as a term for rotgut liquor. Very nice.

The ending disappointed me, because of the extra character who appeared without warning, though perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised. Still, he seemed out of place.

I'll give the writer a pass and say this is a first draft. The inconsistencies in the action need fixed, and maybe give an advance hint about that added character at the end, but the rest of it, crazy and reckless as it is, has it's own consistency. It's shrill and schlocky, but a lot of fun.
I was raised by humans. What's your excuse?
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