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Tragic Rabbit

DOG BOYS by Tragic Rabbit

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Another one of TR's 'true' stories. Like Truman Capote, I subscribe to the idea of 'non-fiction novels' and storytelling.

This one was inspired by a link sent to me Wednesday night by a friend. The photo collection and commentary therein first upset me, then haunted me, and finally motivated me to write a small story about one of the photos. Doesn't seem like enough, really. Maybe there'll be more.

San Jose, 1933. Join Robert on his first hunt with the Dog Boys, as he tries to be the man his father wants him to be.

Let me know what you think, okay?

Kisses...

TR

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TR-

Being from Mississippi, there are a lot of those stories here.

I was thinking fox? rabbit? ugh!

This is an important story. A lot of people don't know or understand how bigotry and hate gets passed down for generations. This is how.

It's ugly. God it's ugly. However, the story is beautifully well done as we would expect from TR. It is a subject that takes courage to address and courage to face.

Well done TR!

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I must confess to being a tad put out. I have, thus far, received three emails from readers who said that they did NOT like the story. This has never happened to me before, that people would take the time to email about a story they didn't like. I'm not saying no one has disliked any of my writing before, just that they haven't spent time informing me of it. What this means, I'm not sure. Now, all these did say that they liked the WRITING, but not the story, or that they felt it was well-written. So I'm concerned, trying to work out what this means, what they are saying between the lines.

Dog Boys is the second TR short story to deal directly with racism. The Velveteen Boy was the other and it was also disliked but, at least overtly, that was because readers disliked the person they think it was about. In retrospect, I wonder if it was the racism ITSELF that they disliked, but felt more comfortable talking about MJ. I wonder if there is something about racism, talking about it, that strikes notes that make people angry.

Drama Club discusses racism right along with homophobia and other hates but the main threads of the story are the loves and lives of the characters, so maybe it is more digestible there, or anyhow less objectionable. Or maybe more easily ignored. I've said before that I have the feeling that a lot of people who like Angel de la Torres in print would never have a little Spic faggot over to their house in real life, and that I found that interesting. But what does it mean?

I wonder if that means I should write more on the subject because in MY world, racism is alive and well. And the readers who mention where they live, Australia, the American South, tell me they are reminded of where THEY live. But racism is a human trait, isn't confined to any political boundaries, it's perhaps something left over from the days of tiny tribes strewn across a world essentially unpeopled. I just think it's a bad one and I worry that so many seem to think it lives only in the past.

The events of Dog Boys really happened but they didn't stop happening in 1933. I doubt James Byrd's family would say that lynchings have stopped, even if the form is sometimes different. The thrust behind them is as alive as it ever was in America, but not only America, racism lives around the world and is not even exclusive to white people. The Japanese are famously racist, could probably give Americans a run for their money on who is more likely to hate the hardest based on skin color and background.

That website, Without Sanctuary, truly upset me. Not because it was news to me that lynchings occur, but because of the images themselves and his dry commentary, so restrained, so horribly informative. Who knew that there was a brisk trade in souvenirs of lynchings, post cards openly sold for a quarter that displayed the pitiful body of some victim. When the photo of John Holmes made the front page of the morning paper in San Jose, the 'city fathers' were outraged...NOT because a boy was dead, but because his naked body was shown in their newspaper. They were against indecency, those honorable men, but missed the boat there, as the true indecency was the death itself, that image of men in hats looking up to admire their work, the fruits of their night's labor hanging in that tree.

It's that blindness, that ethical interrupt, that fascinates me, moves me, and caused Dog Boys to appear here at AD. And, evidently, it's the portrayal of that which readers find disturbing enough to actually write to me about. What does this mean? That I should avoid the topic, or that I should write MORE on it, in despite of how people feel?

What exactly is it that I want to do with my storytelling? I've said that I want to entertain, to make people laugh, cry, love, to feel things as they read and to remember a character or two. It looks as if Dog Boys makes people FEEL...is it my obligation or intent that they also and always enjoy their feelings when they read? Is there something to the topic of racism that engenders this reaction and, if yes, does that mean it should be avoided? Or is it a boil that needs lancing, despite all the great works that others have published?

Meaning, have I also found, while looking for my Voice, the meat of my future endeavors? Or have I just kicked up a small anthill, should I keep on walking and let things die down?

TR, pondering

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I will stick up my hand as one of those emailers.

The story itself is one that I do not like. To say I liked the story would, in some way, feel like I'm condoning the events that occured in that story. That, I can't do.

TR, there is nothing wrong with writing and publishing the story. It is, basically, a tragedy, based on a historical tragedy. If stories like this are not written, people will forget, and be doomed to repeat the same events.

It is important that stories like this are written and read. However, to say that we like them is a step that I can't make for you. I'm sorry.

If anything, you can take it as a compliment that I don't like the story. The writing itself is strong enough that it makes the reader confront things that they may not want to. It has made me think and reflect on events that I might not otherwise have done so. For that, I thank you.

All I can say is please don't confuse a dislike for the story being told for a dislike for the story. I like the story (technically and in how it has made me think) even if I dislike the story being told. I didn't explain this properly in my email and for that I apologise.

Graeme

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I must confess to being a tad put out.  I have, thus far, received three emails from readers who said that they did NOT like the story.

TR, pondering

Well, I'm going to put my hand up in the air and tell you I did like it. While i found it prfoundly disturbing and upsetting, i thought it was a well written story. I think some people are confusing dislike of the subject matter and dislike of the story itself. The material holds a defenite revoltion and I tip my proverbeal writers hat to you for taking it on. It's not something I could have stomached, writing on that topic. Especially not with that picture staring me in the face.

While events like this are trajedies, simply saying it's terrible and then ignoring it is not going to achieve anything. People should realise that a lot of racism that still exists today stems from things like this still and we need to address the issues properly, not hide them in a closet so that they can fester. What I find most disturbing about the story is that you featured a boy who didn't know what the hunt was about-- but most certainly, there must have been young boys who did participate in such things and were fully aware of what they were doing. It's a thought that is chilling and sickening, but one that shouldnt be denied.

That picture struck a nerve in me-- a cold dark nerve. At first I couldn't stand to look at the picture for more than a few seconds. But then I had to go back and look at it again. Partly because I feel that if we can understand how and why things happened, we can avoid them happening again and start to heal over the wounds that such actions have caused.

Again, you have my respect for tackling such a difficult topic and bearing it through.

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I too must confess to writing that I didn't like the story. I praise your writing, and admire the writing of the story, but it is so very distrubing to me that I truly cannot say, "I like it." Thought provoking, emotionally devastating, horrifying, but definitely NOT likeable, Dog Boys is a story that needs to be out there, for all of us to become more aware.

Thank you, sincerely.

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I can't understand not liking this story. Not just for the skill you've shown but also for the message. It's a message that needs to be given and if it makes us uncomfortable and then to think, then it's done it's job in the way it was intended. Not hearing or reading about these things can make it all that much easier to turn our heads and allow them to happen again.

Awesome doesn't work for you anymore TR. Amazing is the word that comes to mind now.

Codey

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I know that things I write often show my prejudices pretty clearly: anti-war, anti-gun, anti-racism, anti-homophobia. Pro-love, anti-hate. I don't mean to be preachy but I imagine that sometimes, if not all times, I might come off that way.

I have gotten some unpleasant email in regards to this story. I don't mean the people above, though their voices sort of added to my current feeling, maybe a teensy bit. I can only remember other negative email in regard to The Velveteen Boy, and that more directed towards MJ than myself, and I know that TVB was kind of trite. It was just how I felt one day after hearing a news story.

Maybe Dog Boys is a lousy story, too, trite and cheap and pushy. It wasn't meant to be great literature, just something to show my feelings after looking at the Without Sanctuary site. I know that Lucky Strike and Der Cowboy are pretty obviously, maybe annoyingly, anti-war. Some Enchanted Evening has a ghost who doesn't like guns, how corny and stupid is that? I don't even know if anything I've written is at all worthwhile, or whether I'm providing enjoyment to others as I'd like to.

I have recently also gotten some pretty negative general email to Tragic Rabbit from someone who says he's not a reader, but also says he found my stuff at Nifty? Anyhow, that and one Dog Boy email have really upset me, they felt too personal to just shrug off, not that I take lightly criticism of my writing. These emails contained really mean things, about me myself as well as my lousy pornographic writing, things that are proving hard to remove from my head. I feel hurt, to be honest, and unsure about writing...just when I was trying to rev up and get back into more regular writing.

I KNOW that I'm too sensitive, both in general and as a writer, but I don't much know how to let it slide off easily. Somehow it seems worse that I do this for free, write things for people to enjoy, and yet still am sometimes attacked. Also the computer attacks that destroyed my computer around New Year's, the more recent AD attacks, some other attempts....it's just tiring, you know?

I don't get why people enjoy being mean and I don't get why people want to tear down someone else's attempts to do something, to give something to others (like writing and posting online). What do you really gain by hurting someone that you don't even know?

Sigh.

TR

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This is my answer to people who flame me from now on. If they're smart enough to get the message then maybe I'll talk to them.

I'd be willing to bet , tho, that most of the flame throwers and trolls aren't intelligent enough to pronounce piss, let alone figure out what I mean. (they probably think it's a breakfast drink)

Don't let a few flame throwers and trolls get to you TR. Look at the number of people that read your work. None of us get much praise but we are being read. I figure as long as I know people are reading and even tho they don't say they like it, coming back to read more, then they don't hate it.

Codey

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.... Anyhow, that and one Dog Boy email have really upset me, they felt too personal to just shrug off, not that I take lightly criticism of my writing.  These emails contained really mean things, about me myself as well as my lousy pornographic writing, things that are proving hard to remove from my head.  I feel hurt, to be honest, and unsure about writing...just when I was trying to rev up and get back into more regular writing.  

I KNOW that I'm too sensitive, both in general and as a writer, but I don't much know how to let it slide off easily.  Somehow it seems worse that I do this for free, write things for people to enjoy, and yet still am sometimes attacked.  Also the computer attacks that destroyed my computer around New Year's, the more recent AD attacks, some other attempts....it's just tiring, you know?

I don't get why people enjoy being mean and I don't get why people want to tear down someone else's attempts to do something, to give something to others (like writing and posting online).  What do you really gain by hurting someone that you don't even know?

Sigh.

TR

Oh Tragic One:

For as many times as you have punched me in the gut on this forum for criticizing and being an ass you really do need to just give the mal-mailers the bird. I read your story, and liked it. I did find it a bit predictable towards the middle when I noticed that you hadn't made any references to an animal, but a chase instead. That combined with what seemed to me like suspense and your seeming enthusiasm to shock us with a message made me second guess my original idea that they were hunting something non-human. As it turns out my second guess was right, and the only non-human somethings were the hunters.

Consider this a congradulation on your story, and also some encouragement from the nay-sayers. It's a good and worthwhile story to read, with a message that, while not positive, I believe is necessary for we as humans to examine and incorporate an understanding into our lives.

So, I guess what I'm saying is thanks for the story and message. Keep your chin up. While you and I don't always see eye to eye, I don't agree with any wrong sayings on this work of yours.

-Naiilo Scioga

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TR rarely has anything in his stories that are what they seem. It was obvious to the readers what was being hunted but the story was written from the boys perspective and it was clear from his reaction that he didn't know what was being hunted until he saw the other boy. It was written just right.

Codey

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Yeah, see, that's how I thought of it, though I was, yes, concentrating on the hunt itself, as a kind of rite of passage of its own, before getting to the prey. I did not intend it to seem like some cheap trick, I was trying to show Robert's perspective, his excitement and then his shock.

I do, though, like to surprise readers, maybe that's a holdover from cliffhanger chapter endings in Drama Club, or maybe I just think it's fun, haha. I know *I* like to be surprised when I'm reading.

Kisses...

TR

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I have recently also gotten some pretty negative general email to Tragic Rabbit from someone who says he's not a reader, but also says he found my stuff at Nifty? Anyhow, that and one Dog Boy email have really upset me, they felt too personal to just shrug off, not that I take lightly criticism of my writing.  These emails contained really mean things, about me myself as well as my lousy pornographic writing, things that are proving hard to remove from my head.  I feel hurt, to be honest, and unsure about writing...just when I was trying to rev up and get back into more regular writing.  

TR-

I have a theory about writing. The more sociologically or culturally relevant a work is, the more controversial it is going to be.

Historically, a number of writers during the civil rights era received the very same type of criticism.

I suspect that those that yelled the loudest have a big, ugly racist chip on their shoulder.

So don't be unsure about your writing. It got under their skin. The reaction that you got proved that it is right on target.

-JS

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Firstly, I am impoverished when it comes to literary talent. Downright destitute. I can use lots of nice words, most often correctly, but for the life of me I cannot put it into any form that gives pleasure to anyone reading it.

I admire all the writers, but even moreso, the ones who are essentially writing 'underground' material. If you cannot get a national or international publisher to publish material which is of good to excellent calibre, then you are writing 'underground' (my opinion). This essentially means you volunteer your skill, imagination, and time to all those who read your works. Those readers may be ecstatic about your works, or otherwise, but under no circumstances are they justified in 'knocking' what you have done.

In a very real sense, you are all like the painters of old, who became famous and treasured after their deaths. One can only hope that your personal drive, and an ever increasing awareness on the part of the general public will allow you to avoid that horrid scenario. One has to wonder if there is no way to create an actual publishing company which would print many of your works, and sell the books openly.

Society is changing, and maybe things like the legalization of same sex marriage in Canada, Spain, Belguim and the Netherlands are a sign of better times. Sure, there will be anti 'anything' everywhere, for years to come, probably till the death of humanity itself, but the slow swing of the pendulum is towards more freedom in most places in the world, the USA being the sad exception. The terrorist seem to have won that battle, and terrified the government, if not the people themselves.

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In a very real sense, you are all like the painters of old, who became famous and treasured after their deaths.

Well, that certainly would be 'underground', Trab. :twisted:

I guess that's something to look forward to...

Kisses...

TR

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I noticed this story for the first time because it's up in the Dude's Picks section and I read anything with the word dog in it.

Not what I was expecting, I have to say. But more on that later.

I felt that this was good emotional writing that hit hard. The photo to go with it at the end was like a second kick.

By and large it was excellent and did the job of making me be right there wanting to see what happens and then making me feel something when it did happen.

Problems:

I did feel some of the imagery was 'trying' too hard to make the night hunt seem magical early on, but nothing severe.

Also, others in the thread have noted the switchover from the idea of hunting game to hunting a person seemed a bit stuntsy. Coincidentally, I was reading the David Mamet advice thread and came upon some relevant thoughts:

How does one strike the balance between withholding and vouchsafing information? That is the essential task of the dramatist. And the ability to do that is what separates you from the lesser species in their blue suits.

I think Dog Boys *just* falls on the wrong side of the line in holding too much back for the end. Like Mamet, I can't say how it could have been done better though.

What worked best was the dialogue, which was kept spare but effective, with the part about Robert saying, 'Daddy, this is John, you know John' and then later the father asking for someone to take his son home to mama both doing some heavy emotional lifting.

Well done, TR.

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