Loose Threads: A Short Story Collection, by Luis Filipe Alves (2:30)

IOD score cardToday we see that being translated from another language doesn’t make your book’s errors less distracting.

What I gleaned about the stories: We only ever seen reflections and reproductions of our own face, which scares us less than it might.

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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 on to the next one. As usual, I stop reading after the third WTF.

Kudo #1: Good subversion of expectation

Analysis: The first story started with a relatively common experience and lead me through the protagonist’s brief thoughts on it. Then, as I was empathising with the way the protagonist was approaching that sort of situation, the author revealed that this wasn’t what was actually happening now. However, unlike the accidental disjunctions between mental image and new fact that can often destroy immersion, this was a deliberate choice by the protagonist to lead the reader astray; as such it both deepened my understanding of the character and provided a more effective contrast between the mundane and the unexpected.

WTF #1: Wonky punctuation

Analysis: The second story opens with: “You know what time it is?”, I ask. The rogue comma was a double whammy: when attributing dialogue, only a closing full stop is replaced with a comma; and the comma sits inside the speech marks if the tag follows the speech. As the front matter mentioned this collection was translated by the author, I wondered if it was a direct transcription of a valid construction in the author’s native language; however – while I recognise the competence of anyone who can write in more than one language – the test is immersion not overall competence, so I scored accordingly.

Since the start of a story is where the proof-reader is freshest, an error in the first line raised the spectre of others later in the work; so I moved on.

WTF #2: Unintelligible imagery

Analysis: The second sentence of the next story was: I rather use my energy to keep my ass up, staying open for you. The first clause, while seeming to lack a verb after I, was comprehensible. The second threw me. Without any context in the first sentence, I didn’t know what was being kept ready for whom: was this a shopkeeper waiting for an expected customer or the flight controller of a space craft trying to sneak a ship in during the night watch?

[Note from Jefferson: Funny. I read that quoted line more literally, and took it to be some kind of explicit sex scene.]

With the missing word already suggesting that descriptions might need effort to untangle, I wasn’t primed to give the benefit of the doubt, so I moved on.

WTF #3: Narration not experience

Analysis: The third story opens with an interesting description of a spacecraft from the perspective of some Vikings, portraying the Vikings as puzzled, uncertain, and yet not merely fearful savages. However, the following paragraphs of: It was… They thought… and so on. buried this image beneath the dust of a witness statement.

My interest in Vikings vs. Aliens lost, 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.

The Day That Never Comes, by Caimh McDonnell (40:00)
The Grey Bastards, by Jonathan French (40:00)

About the author

Dave Higgins has worked in law and IT for both public and private sector organisations. When not pursuing these hobbies, he writes poetry and speculative fiction. He was born in Wiltshire, England. Raised by a librarian, he started reading shortly after birth and has not stopped since. He currently lives in Bristol with his wife, Nicola, his cats, Jasper and Una, and many shelves of books.