What I gleaned about the stories: Sometimes protagonists can turn out not to have immortality or fearful balance.
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Note: This is a short story collection, so the rules are slightly different from standard Immerse or Die: instead of reading on every time I lose immersion, I stop reading that story and move onto the next one. As usual, I stop reading after the third WTF.
Analysis: The first line of the dedication is: As the person who has supported me from the moment I was born, I can say from the bottom of my heart that this book would have never been possible without you.
While the meaning becomes evident, the sentence is technically structured to make the opening sub-clause refer to the I in the main clause. I therefore experienced a brief flicker of the author hugging themselves because they were their own greatest fan.
Although this moment of amusement was minor, it was followed by a worry that there would be other – less clear – ambivalences of subject, so I moved on.
Analysis: The first story opened with:They say that right before death, life flashes before their eyes, rendered as a single sentence paragraph. As the usual saying is about your life passing before your eyes, I was immediately intrigued: what sort of being was the narrator that they didn’t have the same death experience as humans? An angel? A sentient computer? However, the next paragraph is a description of the narrator’s entirely human – yet flashback free – death. Which not only contradicted the mental image I had, but left me feeling like I’d been robbed of a really interesting story.
Ironically, had the phrase been unaltered, the possible cliché would have made the narrator’s lack of peri-mortem flashbacks seem an engaging comment rather than a disappointment, making this a double oops.
After struggling for a moment to see if I could detect a reason for the change, I moved on.
Analysis: The second story opens with: Parked against the curb of the same Cleveland block he’d been living on for years, Johnathon’s lap overflowed with what his overbearing mother assumed to be college essentials. The opening clause is structured to modify “Johnathon’s lap,” so I had an immediate image of Johnathon sitting parallel to the curb as if he were a parked car.
The next sentence clarified that he was in an SUV, but by then my trust in the descriptions was gone, so I pulled the plug.
Take the Pepsi Challenge: Want to know if my own writing measures up? Download one of these free short stories, in the format of your choice, and decide for yourself.