Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"The Last Scream of Carnage" by Phil Emery from RotS

This was a trippy story, the editor's choice as "the most powerful tale in the anthology."

It is very artful and that was the most impressive thing to me, that this story exists and it found print here. It plays with line breaks and indents like poetry in places, making a visual interplay with the text. Much of it has the feel and flow of an epic poem. It has a formal beauty that emphasizes, but also transcends the subject matter.

It reminded me, in that way, of a recent story from Every Day Fiction. "The Journey, Archetype in a Pop Song Structure" by Daniel Ausema, in spite of the pretentious title, was a really entertaining story with breaks between the "verses", a bridge, and tiny "choruses" that almost worked as some kind of prog-rock epic. It was highly entertaining and opened my mind to a lot of new possibilities for story structure.

"The Last Scream of Carnage" evokes an older style of epic story, in spite of the angular line breaks that would scream "Ferlenghetti" in any other setting. I'm not going to bother trying to recreate any of the text play, this is a story worth reading for yourself, because I think that is a portal to the larger issue of the plot and theme of the story. This is where I feel the piece is weak. At one point, the hero's torch goes out, and I think the guy is just so mean that it doesn't matter, but it didn't work for me. If it weren't for the beauty of the execution, the story would almost be a flat hack-em-up, though it does have a some spin at the end. I'm willing to debate all that, you just have to read the story first. =) Much to talk about on the forum.

Buy the book! The Return of the Sword: An Anthology of Heroic Adventure
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