Reviews for somnambulist
Riya3 chapter 1 . 11/24/2013
This...this is beautiful. I love how you portray this new side of Itachi, and your prose if brilliant. Brilliant, I tell you.
G.G chapter 1 . 10/1/2011
Correction ...

"The juxtaposition of two complex and contracting words “incendiary” and “effervescent” catch the reader’s attention. When this is followed by the metaphor “No matter its heat, the thrilling flare will one day be extinguished”, such a doleful and frightening notion of lost love is created that one’s eyes can’t help but tear at the tragedy of it all ..."
G.G chapter 1 . 10/1/2011
Part 2: Review

My finger was pointed in misdirection when I criticized the ‘lack’ of elements in the imagery of the story. There’s plenty of imagery, particularly on the first half of the story. A few of them are quite exceptional. However, my issue was in that the author can do better: the imagery can strive to be more real, more vivid, more complex, more memorable. What I want to say, T.S. Eliot wrote in his essay “Hamlet”:

“The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an ‘objective correlative’; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked. If you examine any Shakespeare’s most successful tragedies, you will find this exact equivalence; you will find that the state of mind of Lady Macbeth walking in her sleep has been communicated to you by a skilful accumulation of imagined sensory impressions …”

Essentially, I, as a reader, crave for a more poetic prose approach from this story. Really bring that story to palpable life. Even before I remembered the above passage, I would have suggested working in more of those grotesquely tender images that are so prevalent in Macbeth and Eliot’s works. This is not to say that I did not notice, for example, the allusions to “The Waste Land”. Like the several references to “dust” (“I will show you fear in a handful of dust”) and the part where “[Itachi]’s walking though a scene of devastation, miles and miles in all directions.”(“Out of this stony rubbish? Son of Man,/ …you know only/A heap of broken images.”). And then there is the universal ‘washing one’s hands of sin’ scene.

Lines from “Macbeth” could have been inspiring: “As two spent swimmers, that do cling together/And choke their art.” “Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return/To plague th’inventor; this even-handed justice/Commend th’ingredients of our poison’d chalice/To our own lips.” “That tears shall drown the wind” “Is this a dagger which I see before me,/The handle towards my hand? Come, let me clutch/thee:-/I have thee not, and yet I see thee still … and wicked dreams abuse/The curtained sleep;”

I’ll end by commending some beautiful images.

“They emerge into the oaky air of the newly fallen dark. A storm lurks in the silvered edges of the gathering clouds overhead, coaxing out an ache from his tired bones. Sleep is coming for him in leaping steps, bearing in its arms the dreaded dreams. He looks up when he hears Shisui's voice…”

The few references to silence and sound, light and darkness are particularly successful and touching. Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” has some of the best imagery on that department, though, that could have worked here. I would have enjoyed if there was a stronger gulf between silence and sound. This could have been achieved possibly by giving no voice at all to Itachi, hence emphasizing the lines “Aren’t you sick of the silence? Of being voiceless”. Also Itachi’s fear of dreams could be emphasized by twining more light imagery with the act of sleeping. On that note, “dreaded dreams” is a good alliteration.

“These incendiary beginnings, Itachi knows, are effervescent.” The climax of the story begins with those words. The two juxtaposition of complex and contracting words “incendiary” and “effervescent” catch the reader’s attention. Followed certain metaphor for Itachi’s love, that “No matter its heat, thrilling flare will one day be extinguished” is such a doleful and frightening notion, one’s eyes can’t help but tear at the tragedy of it all ...
G.G chapter 1 . 10/1/2011
The previous comment left a bitter afterthought. It was bullshit that was blunt, substandard and erroneous. I owed it to myself to peruse “somnambulist” again and write a just review.

Part 1: Interpretation

“[S]omnamulist” is at its epicentre about sleepwalking, a sort of ‘eyes wide shut’ state of mind, where the protagonist hovers between the uncertain realms of the present and the past, the living and the dead. At the crux, the short story explores Uchiha Itachi’s relationship with Uchiha Shisui, his betrayal and subsequent degradation of mind, caused by a passionate and agonizing sense of loss, which is as cutting and deep as the summary suggests.

Some parts of the story seem like memories. For example, the restaurant scene and the 9th passage, where Itachi and Shisui generate a dialogue followed by a silent confession of love. Others parts appear to be pain filled hallucinations; Itachi experiences self-induced anoxia while masturbating to the image Shisui. Then there are the “fantasies” of another world, completely false, juxtaposed by reality, the past plagued present, in which Itachi is trapped. This is emphasised by the use of present tense, with the notable exception of the 10th passage which is written in future tense.

Itachi’s polymorphous guilt towards betraying his love is eternally present, unredeemable for all time. “Time present and the time past are both perhaps present in time future” (beginning lines of Four Quartets, T. ) and Itachi cannot escape:

“Tomorrow the future will come surging again like a dark flood, crashing noisily against the window demanding to be let in, and Itachi will throw himself up against the glass with all his negligible weight, knowing the bolt won't hold./Tomorrow, they will complete their bitter story.”

First of all, there is Itachi’s guilt towards betraying his brother: “Tears blur [Sasuke’s] bright eyes to red smudges, roll down his still-round cheeks” The tender round cheeks are soiled by “tears” and bloody “red” creating an intense sense of hurt. It is also notable that “tear” may mean the verb ‘tear somebody apart’. The line is echoed later when Itachi is put into the same position as his brother: “Shisui … cranes down to lick the tears that have materialized on [Itachi’s] face and whisper against his cheek.” “The color of anoxia is red”. This proves that Itachi bonds towards his cousin are not simply lust-induced but brotherly, lead-like.

Itachi’s love extends, in a different degree, towards the rest of the family and village, subsequently causing Itachi to feel guilt for betraying the Uchiha (“We’ve died for this village…”) and to feel bitter betrayal towards the village for forcing his exile (“… and look how they’ve repaid us”). This, added with the fact that Uchiha Madara is Itachi’s only remaining family member besides Sasuke, drives murderer to find comfort in a dubious man who has lived through his own set of betrayals.

Interestingly, at the bottom lies Itachi’s guilt for loving in the first place: “Such good friends, they think. It is so rare these days to find maturity in those so young./If only they knew.” The statement is rather pregnant with irony considering that the Itachi’s “maturity” was brought by the keen edge of a knife and as Shisui and Itachi are certainly not only friends. Murder and incest, I imagine, weighs heavy on such a sensitive and searching mind with a draconian sense of responsibility.
G.G chapter 1 . 9/30/2011
Not a memorable piece of writing but one can appreciate the intertextuality. Which is why, I can't help but wonder at the lack of references, or rather lack of emphasis, on the elements, particularly water, since it is such a prominent symbol throughout The Waste Land and since Uchiha Shisui experienced, allegedly, death by water.

On a positive note, the story resembles "Elysium" by . .
ShirouHokuto chapter 1 . 12/14/2010
Mmmmmmf, so beautiful and dreamlike. ;o;
PureWaterLily chapter 1 . 9/25/2010
6K RANT BELOW ON YOUR ONLY DREADFUL FLAW... I rarely give out criticisms, since I feel condescending if it's for a poor writer, and arrogant if it's to a good writer. That said, I am incredibly scared of being yelled at for my audacity to nitpick at an awesome writer while my own works are worse than feces. But I try to be sincere too. I don't mean to anger, discourage, etc. Proceed with caution.

I cannot understand your need of inserting quotes, no matter how eerily fitting they are at times. I say just chuck them out. You've already made this concept your own, planned and executed it well, and I see no reason to ascribe your geniusness to a damn quote. This isn't an essay, this isn't a mediocre story that needs to sophisticate itself with words of authority to appear educated.

All of your works are phenomenal, and the more I read them, the more I appreciate how delicately structured and powerful your words can be. And because of that, I prefer to see it whole as a composition, wrapped up neatly start to finish, without suddenly hearing the classic narrator's mouth at the end that's delivering me a rather redundant recap/aesop.

I am not saying you do not have good taste in quotes (most are quite insightful, in fact). I am not saying the quotes overshadow your piece or vise-versa. I understand that the quotes may also have been the source of inspiration for the work, but it's all unnecessary. It's like you just offered me a glass of exquisite wine, juices refined to bring out all the emotions and moods, and then afterwards, slammed the raw grapes on the table and said, “well, I'm not confident about the wine, but I know the grapes it came from is divine so I hope that makes up for it!” I don't find it complementary. Sometimes distracting. Many times /suiting/, but it doesn't complete the story with a sense of closure.

Furthermore, we all know the "show, don't tell" rule that distinguishes stories from essays. You paint your stories, you carve in unique little details that places you above the other writer’s with their cliché "then his eyes lit up with life" or "and then his face went crimson” (crimson being more “unique” than red) or “his heart raced a million miles per hour” or “he was mad as hell” or any of those recycled phrases. You took it to the next level with the flies and religious rites and public services and approaching storms to show familiarity and engage us. And when you do narrate, like explaining the transient fire, it’s meaningful and intense, enforcing that feeling of longing and misery and transience, so it’s forgivable.

But that quote, 100% tell and no show, took that all away. It condensed the whole story into one line that just told the whole theme. It’s redundant at the end, making it seem like the readers will be lost in your story without a lousy line to guide them and say “ooh, THAT’S what you were getting at!” And if the readers do that, the fault is placed on either the reader’s intelligence or the work’s inability to convey what it wanted to (but often it’s both). For quotes in the beginning, “well, then what was the point of the story if you just showed me this?” The worst for that scenario is if it was plain spoiler and revealed everything, the best if it’s just enigmatically placed there to befuddle us. I do not like to be frustrated decrypting something before I even start reading.

Also if you NEED to rely on an external line, for an intro, or a transition, or what, then that’s not strong writing. Just like how a songfic that needs to rely on a song to get the reader “in the mood” is not doing its job.

As for impressions on the writers whenever I see a quote (this does matter, because how I see authors truly does affect how I see their works, no matter how horribly biased that turns me), I rarely get their sense of "humbling," which is what most go for (look, the credit for this awesomeness goes to THIS guy, not me, okay?). Nor do I get a friendly invitation (okay, this quote is AWESOME, and you guys just have to know about it). I usually get the opposite reaction, which is snobby, as in that prick in your class that memorized Shakespeare by heart and has no problem citing it to show off his skills. Milder impressions would be gaudy (not learned nor elegant) or unconfident (I admire Sakura and not Hinata for a reason). The /best/ writers should be neither, and while I play the fishing-for-sympathy card often, the big leaguers can’t be insecure in front of an audience that admires them. If a fic is amazing, they should confidently put it up, all in their OWN words, without leaning back for support. And if it turns out to be a dud, as fics sometimes do, they should be able to judge accordingly and we’ll either see the polished product or never see it at all.

Of course, I could be way off mark and there are other reasons for the quotes (in essays, for example, you bring it in when it is the clearest and most elegant way to deliver a point, but I’d argue that this isn’t an essay, and the message should already be embedded and rooted in your story), but I'm just here to convey /my/ impression on it. The other readers may absolutely love it, feel it brings a fresh view into the picture, make them contemplate more after reading, see you as more refined, and their opinions may outweigh mine. Or you strongly think it belongs and strengthens your piece, then go ahead and leave it there. But I firmly believe your works can stand boldly by itself just as it is. I'd much rather dwell purely on your story and enjoy the aftertaste of the wine itself instead of musing over the auxiliary grapes and how they contribute.

So everything said, ditch the quotes and leave them for amateurs like us to copy/paste, because we're the ones that really need them to distract the audience from us and our supercilious doggerel.

…. Annd I've ranted on long enough, so as always, good night and good luck to your writings.

Much loves, Lily.
theprincesshime chapter 1 . 9/23/2010
This is like a piece of poetry. Every scene depicted here inspired emotion in me. The ending was masterful. I was quite worried at where I would end up but my fears were turned to awe.

I read the last part several times because I feel you've captured something there that is the crux of it all but every time I reach out and try to grasp it, it escapes me.

I was particularly touched by this line, 'Soft desire comes to drape over their twined bodies, diluted with adoration.' And your line about love being just a nervous habit, what an apt description...and what touching revelations.
Alive In Wonderland chapter 1 . 9/18/2010
I think - wow. I don't know what I think, other then "wow". I'm just kind of speechless. That was absolutely beautiful. Thank you for writing it!
MidnightInDecember chapter 1 . 9/17/2010
Wow! this was simply great. It was one of those eerie, not-too-angsty pieces of angst that left me with an ache, a weird, melancholic feeling that stays with you after the story has ended...

Truly, your language is so vivid you can see it happening...

i liked how you mixed the present and the past and pulled it off without making it confusing.

"He'll take it, so that at least for one night, his hands will have better things to touch than the cold kiss of steel." What a beautiful line...

I am sad now :(. In a good way XD.