Reviews for A Lesser Beauty
unwinding fantasy chapter 18 . 7/28
So I've re-read this again and tried to write comments as I went along. I kinda got swept up around chapter 15 and forgot to type out my thoughts (this thing is just so damn powerful) but here's some thought dump.

Ch 3:
The chestnut strands of stubborn spikes so like his own felt strong under his fingers, heavy with life and thick with the scent of milk and honey. – because Sora is his promised land.

Roxas noted Sora's hand was entangled in the other boy's. – even here, in sleep, Sora is twisted between both of them.

"That was an accident, actually." It wasn't a lie, not really. – there are a few instances of similar thoughts from Roxas in this chapter. He’s being set up as a master at self-delusion. I’d like to know if he deleted this because he doesn’t care for Axel (not likely; he seems drawn to Axel, evidenced by their slow walk back to Vista etc.) or because part of him is concerned about Sora’s reaction.

The peon exchange – this is interesting, Sora not knowing the meaning of this word. At this point Roxas is tied to Sora like a slave indebted to a master although neither can see the toxicity in their relationship yet. Sora especially can’t understand how he’s treating Roxas like a toy, keeping him on a short leash. I also like the modern South Asian meaning of the word, peon equaling a person kept around for odd jobs. When Sora and Riku are broken up, Roxas is the substitute, someone to keep Sora sane.

He didn't remember trying to quit. – Trying to quit Riku?

The crab and the turkey – I feel like there’s a metaphor I’m missing here. The best I can come up with is as Roxas spirals out of control, he’s destroying (eating) his heart. Being reckless with his body and his love, Roxas’ heart is really being put through the shredder. The fact that he doesn’t refrain from eating the turkey despite being repulsed is a lot like his careless, seemingly unstoppable behavior that he engages in despite hating himself for it. Also the turkey with no lungs echoes the later chapter where Roxas is in the pool, “His entire life, screaming for air with burning lungs”.

Ch 4:
Roxas sat at the table closest to the edge – symbolic of Roxas living dangerously, uncaring about his wellbeing.

Believe – Subconsciously, Roxas wants to believe in a bright future. I don’t think the “what” is important. It’s the very act of believing, the hope, that matters. Axel stopping Roxas from brushing off “believe” is one of many themes in your story. Where Roxas searches for oblivion, Axel constantly tries to show him another way. He’s not perfect and he trips up but overall Axel is trying to better himself and help Roxas whether it’s something small like stealing his smokes or big like teaching him the difference between love and Love.

Axel’s bloody lip – I’m probably reading too much into this but like Axel helps Roxas believe, Roxas helps heal Axel. And I don’t mean that Roxas “fixes” him; you can’t fix anyone. It’s more like… in Roxas, Axel finds a reason to want to heal himself.

"That makes sense coming from anyone else but you." – I feel silly but I still don’t get what Axel means here. Is it because… Roxas daunts/challenges him? The idea of falling in love with Roxas?

I also love that out of all the instruments you could’ve chosen, you picked lyre/“liar”.

Ch 5:
I’d love to know what piece Sora is playing initially (a nocturne because he’s broken up with Riku or something more?) and what Sora and Roxas play/sing together. And ending with B flat… is that another allusion to depression? Feeling “flat”?

Ch 6:
Sora sat behind him, legs on either side of the blonde, arms fluttering happily around his ribcage. – I like how physically Sora is also keeping Roxas, stirring his heart.

would have remembered nothing except ways to describe the way Sora's hand felt tangled in his hair – “Tangled” must be a deliberate word choice, right? Because that is subtle and perfect.

Roxas stared a little longer at their reflection in the television, saw the streets of New York City empty and all the trash left behind. – Like… their best years are behind them and only rubbish remains? An omen of what the year ahead holds for Roxas if he continues his messed up relationship with Sora and Riku? “Empty” echoes Roxas’ heart in future chapters, how he feels like there’s a black hole in his chest.

Why is Axel crying? Was his dad there over Christmas? Or was he upset that Roxas hadn’t contacted him over the entire break and he felt it was all his fault?

Why are Axel’s sheets white and his fridge only filled with water? The best I can think is his dorm room is like his only haven. Everywhere else, outside, he has to be switched on, ready to consume. He keeps his dorm room pure because… that’s his last refuge?

Ch 7:
He'd accepted his fifth—sixth?—cup of coffee from the redhead – Whether deliberate or not, this harkens back to Roxas accepting an unknown amount of shots. Very different setting to the party scenes. It highlights how Axel is a good influence on Roxas.

I like that Axel’s bedroom is painted blue. Calming, reminiscent of Roxas’ eyes.

I’m also wondering about Axel’s major. If Roxas is doing Psych to find out why he’s so fucked up/what people think of him, is Axel obsessing over the past because of what happened with his father? I like to think Axel at this point feels defined by his past, completely trapped by it, stuck in this hedonistic cycle where he picks up manly guys in some twisted parody of love. (And that’s another question: precisely what is his reasoning there? Is he trying to come to terms with his physical enjoyment of his dad’s molestation in the ski cabin? These manly men, obviously shades of his dad… Is sleeping with them Axel’s way of taking back power? Pretending he likes it? Or does he actually feel like he has no choice, that he’s worthless and deserves to be used? I get that later on he’s doing it so as to not have sex with Roxas until they’re both ready but initially, why is Axel fucking around every weekend?

He would've returned the hug, wanted to, but his arms were pinned at his sides. – Indicative of Roxas’ internal struggle to love properly. That he manages a hug the next morning… A small victory but an important one.

Ch 8:
Why is Axel so distant? Does he think he’s irrevocably fucked up this time and has resigned himself to the notion that Roxas will never love him?

Demyx looked pissed as they passed him – is this where his girlfriend breaks up with him?

Riku sat up and stared down at Roxas, blocking the sun. – Shutting out the light. Is Sora’s presence meant to be the sun in this scenario? Blinding?

Sora won for the third consecutive time. – Sora always comes out ahead, playing both sides (I think he does it subconsciously, not with malice. It’s just how he is).

Ch 9:
Demyx’s speech to Roxas is very much what the story is about: Roxas learning to let himself be happy, to take himself out of terrible situations and move forward. It’s tough but it’s doable.

Ch 10:
He'd read a paragraph on interpersonal communication over and over again, his mind stuck on hopeless repeat. – Yes.

I am so curious about why Leon is different to the other guys. Do you have a backstory for this?

Ch 11:
More questions. Does the grapefruit symbolize anything? And when Axel comes back into Roxas’ room at the end… Is he debating whether to take things further at this point? Warring with himself? There are so many instances in this story when I wish I could be in Axel’s mind too. Of course, this is part of what makes this story so amazing: being wrapped up in Roxas’ mind, only hearing his perspective, it really takes you on a journey. Roxas’ thinking just engulfs me.

And also, what leads Axel to eventually concluding Roxas doesn’t want him? Is that part of what Axel’s thinking here?

Ch 12:
The poem is significant, that much is clear. Is it saying beauty isn’t a material, aesthetic thing but something undefinable that you can only feel? Like Axel’s sleigh bells? (I’m not smart enough to work this out on my own but I think I maybe might get the gist of it possibly?) That Axel helps Roxas understand this poem and indicates a way for him to memorise it is again reflective of their relationship. They’re “teaching” one another beauty, really.

We need," Axel said, gathering the remains and moving to toss it in the trash, "to get wasted." – the remains of their love, of his efforts to reach Roxas and heal himself?

Ch 14
The lines of the kite crossing beautiful metaphor for the lines of friendship crossing and getting twisted.

how it looked like it was running an unwinnable race, bobbing up and down in a repeating loop. – And this is Roxas’ life (or at least how he feels): stuck in an endless loop of fucking up and fucking up.

“Lose something?” / “Probably.” – Roxas is talking about something significant here, I feel. His sanity or his ability to love or his hope. So many options.

The coastline was different here—buffed rock just under the sand, eroded bluffs beaten down after hundreds of years of gentle insistence by the tide – Beautiful reminder of how Roxas’ (and Axel’s) defenses have been lowered.

Ch 18
navigate the roads in his sleep, and thank God for that, - Probably unintentional but it’s interesting how this is the only instance Roxas has thanked God (capital G)… which leads me to believe maybe he believes in a “god” by this stage.

I wrote this over the course of a few months sneak-reading at work. A lot of this story I can relate to but parts of it are just beyond my ability to comprehend (where your metaphors are concerned) so sorry if I'm reading way too much into stuff or completely missing the mark. In any case, I will never stop loving this story so thank you for writing it. :-3
Guest chapter 1 . 3/17
YOURSELF! AND THE AIR!

Let me go laugh until I die, please.
Hymno chapter 1 . 11/18/2014
Read this a couple of years ago, and it was the absolute best story I had ever read. Re-read it now, when I've gotten so much older, and still the ugly and the broken and the beautiful takes my breath away with how real it is.

This changed me back then, and no matter how ridiculous it sounds, this - and your writing - will always hold a very special place within my being.

Also, thank you for introduring me to Explosions in the Sky and Your Hand in Mine. No other song has ever made me feel so much.

Hymno
RenoRenjiRed chapter 17 . 11/14/2014
Just read this for the second time and it's just as amazing and emotional as the first. Again I say you are an amazing author and I love your work but this is the only story I've ever read more than once. I'll continue to come back and read it again every so often. I love u for writing this. Thank you.
RenoRenjiRed chapter 18 . 10/13/2014
This is the most amazing story I've ever read. I can identify with both Axel and Roxas to an extent of both of their issues. Axel more than Roxas. I have laughed and cried on this emotional rollercoaster of a story. If I hadn't already been through a lot of the things they went through it may have been a shock. It was almost like looking at my life through the eyes of two of my favorite characters. The only difference is my Roxas is still out of reach.
You are an amazing writer and one hell of a person for putting yourself out there like this. I hope and pray you get the future you're seeing. You deserve it. I wish I could know someone like you in my reality. You are truly amazing. I will definitely be revisiting this story for as long as I can. I love it.
Summerlea chapter 18 . 9/24/2014
well sweet jesus. I don't even think I can properly put into words how I feel about this story. I've spent the past three days staying up until 5am reading this fucker, crying along with it, unable to even get up and feed myself for hours at a time. It's incredibly well written, well phrased, the emotions are so touching and realistic. I can't even.
Also I realize this is four years too late, but I hope that you, personally, are doing much better. It feels strange to reach out to someone who I know only from reading their work, but there is so much feeling, so much personal emotion poured into this story, it's hard not to feel somewhat connected to the author. but it sounded like you were going through alot of personal shit throughout the progression of this story - I know what it's like to be in a dark place, and it's impressive as fuck that you continued writing while being there. I just hope everything is going better for you. Hopefully that doesn't come off as weird and cheesey as it sounds to me.
Insert-somthing-creative-here chapter 18 . 9/19/2014
Wow
Insert-somthing-creative-here chapter 17 . 9/18/2014
I really love the dialog in this story.
Insert-somthing-creative-here chapter 16 . 9/18/2014
O.O
Insert-somthing-creative-here chapter 15 . 9/18/2014
..
Insert-somthing-creative-here chapter 14 . 9/18/2014
I hate Sora.
Insert-somthing-creative-here chapter 13 . 9/18/2014
I liked this chap.
Insert-somthing-creative-here chapter 12 . 9/18/2014
I think I like this best.
Insert-somthing-creative-here chapter 11 . 9/18/2014
I feel like something bad is going to happen.
Insert-somthing-creative-here chapter 10 . 9/18/2014
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