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Rutabaga

Lightning in a Jar by Cole Parker

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I'm a bit confused.  I had the impression from an earlier chapter that Nick was reading from printed music, but the latest chapter makes it sound like he is playing entirely by ear. 

Meanwhile, I was suitably misled by where David's conversation with Colley was going.  Won't say any more.

Whatever blew things up, I can only assume Luther was involved.

 

R

 

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Chapter 8...   OK, Cole will undoubtedly resolve this in Chapter 9, but I just gotta say that at this point Reggie probably has a legal obligation, not only to fire Luther and get him off the island, but also to report the attempted sexual assault. I understand not wanting to subject Nick to a possibly traumatic interview with a law-enforcement officer or social worker, but Luther's behavior has gotten beyond the point where do-it-yourself justice is appropriate, IMO.

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5 hours ago, PeterSJC said:

Chapter 8... Luther's behavior has gotten beyond the point where do-it-yourself justice is appropriate, IMO.

Your point is probably the correct one, Peter SJC, but the story as I read it is about David coming to grips with who he is and what he wants, and in order for that to play out I think we will have to wait and see what he comes up with.  I am really impressed with the way Cole is handling the plot of this story, and this latest event involving Nick has given us the opportunity to learn a whole lot of crucial backstory about David.  Now I see him as a man teetering in the balance, beset by incredible forces, massive memories.

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My "Whoa" was in reference to the flashback to David's military experience.  I can't imagine having something like that weighing on my soul.  It's akin to Mason killing the bad guy in "High Plains of Wyoming" but in this case the victim was not a bad guy.

R

 

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5 hours ago, Merkin said:

Your point is probably the correct one, Peter SJC, but the story as I read it is about...

Merkin, I completely agree. As a reader, I suspend disbelief and understand that the trajectory of the story serves many purposes, including the development of character and the maintenance of suspense and drama. Completely true-to-life stories are usually kind of boring.

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I think we also have to consider what may be going on with Luther. He clearly has some serious issues, and we don't know why.  I doubt if he killed anyone, but something seems to have affected him profoundly. Cole remarked, in connection with Hec  from the story "Ren," that he hates to think that people are irredeemable. Whether Luther can be redeemed remains to be seen. 

Readers also now have a chilling new perspective on David's earlier response to Luther's invitation to fight. Knowing what we now know, it is doubtful that any taunt or challenge from Luther to David would have goaded him into fighting. The episode with Nick came much closer, but fortunately David was able to stay in control. 

R

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13 hours ago, Rutabaga said:

Whether Luther can be redeemed remains to be seen. 

I suspect Luther won't be redeemed in this story—though it might happen in a sequel—because the story seems to be coming to an end. I think this story is mostly about David's redemption.

Redemption is my favorite theme in fiction. It doesn't require that the person be initially evil: in this story, David is being redeemed from his mediocrity. For redemption to work well in a story, IMO, we need to see it from the POV of the person being redeemed. For that reason, I didn't find Hec's redemption in Ren very interesting: he goes off to military school (IIRC) and comes back a changed person.  Hec's redemption was important primarily because Ren's actions set it in motion. Ren is basically about Ren's redemption, IMO.

Obviously, I am taking a broader view of redemption. I would define it as a usually painful process of internal struggle that results in a dramatic improvement to the trajectory of a person's life.

p

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3 hours ago, Cole Parker said:

So, Peter, I'd guess by redemption, you mean growth?

I seem to be painting myself into that corner, but that doesn't quite "feel" right, for reasons that I find hard to articulate. By "dramatic improvement in the trajectory ," I mean that the person was headed in a bad direction and then turns around. I think growth tends to be a more gradual evolution, though it, too, can be triggered by a crisis.

I may have been overstating my case in saying that Ren is about Ren's redemption——really, it is more about his growth. I do think the term fits David's situation better.

Perhaps an essential part of redemption is that the person is forced to confront demons that s/he has not dealt with before. Or maybe not. In a story, not yet posted online, that I recently read, a "good" person has a dramatic improvement in his life by accepting the kindness and good advice of others.

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On 5/10/2017 at 5:25 PM, Cole Parker said:

Thanks, Peter.  Some of my editors also said this was one of my best.  I don't have much feel for that.  I just begin writing and see where it'll take me.  But I did feel good as I was writing this.  That isn't always the case.

 

Well, the writing is certainly one of your best. Can't judge the story till we get to the end but I suspect it will be.

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Chapter 9...  OK, I have no doubt that Cole will give Luther what he deserves in a future chapter. What bothers me about this chapter is David's and especially Reggie's response when a camp counselor bullies a 13-year-old camper, threatens a sexual assault on him, and then attempts to carry it out. (Yes, I consider the towel incident sexual assault.)  At the very least, the adults in this story needed to get him off the island immediately. Simply humiliating him in the pugilistic equivalent of pool sharking is inappropriate, and it gives the campers a message that Reggie is not serious about making the camp safe for them. 

Just saying.  I still like the story a lot and look forward to each new chapter, but this part strains my credulity. I realize that my criticism may be premature—we'll have to see.

p

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Another pertinent question is . . . how did Reggie go so dreadfully wrong in hiring Luther in the first place?  (Is this what David is referring to when he observes, "No one can be right all the time?")  And how did he remain so oblivious to Luther being such a jerk to everyone? 

 

R

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5 hours ago, Rutabaga said:

Another pertinent question is . . . how did Reggie go so dreadfully wrong in hiring Luther in the first place?  (Is this what David is referring to when he observes, "No one can be right all the time?")  And how did he remain so oblivious to Luther being such a jerk to everyone?

Ah ha! A very interesting question.

Colin  :icon_geek:

 

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On 2017-5-17 at 8:19 PM, Rutabaga said:

Another pertinent question is . . . how did Reggie go so dreadfully wrong in hiring Luther in the first place?  (Is this what David is referring to when he observes, "No one can be right all the time?")  And how did he remain so oblivious to Luther being such a jerk to everyone? 

Yeah, I have been wondering that, too, and if the story were more about Reggie, I would expect Cole to show us some answers. For now, the focus seems to be on David and the campers.

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In ch 9, David used the mock boxing match as an opportunity to teach his boys that violence is not a solution *and* to used humiliation to punish Luther. His responsibility was to his boys. Reggie failed to recognize it as a teachable moment for Luther; he sees camp as a growth opportunity for the campers only and has neglected his responsibility to his counselors. In ch 1 Reggie implied his former counselors matured and gained confidence through their experience. It would seem Luther needs more guidance than his colleagues and Reggie needs to step up.

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I would hate to be a tween under Luther's authority following his very public humiliation. He has not thus far shown himself to be particularly teachable, and I would fear some serious repercussions on anybody smaller than himself. Or, even moreso, the boys under the authority of his humiliator.

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