Tuesday, August 08, 2006

New Beginning 53


“Butter or brewers’ yeast?” Amy was popping popcorn.

“Butter,” hollered Mark.

I’d have requested yeast, but the video of Amy’s parents distracted me. I’d never seen such pendulous balls.

We’d planned a normal afternoon: cut school, get high, zone out on “The Wizard of Oz.” It’s really Amy’s dad’s fault; he taped his sex stuff over our movie.

“Eww,” said Mark.

Amy’s dad (in the video) adjusted the camera angle. There was a clear shot of Amy’s dad’s anus, and then of Amy’s mom giving Amy’s dad head.

“This is so not like porn,” Mark said. The popcorn was ready, and he went to eat it, and to make out with Amy.

I kept watching.

Amy’s mom cried after she orgasmed. She was upset about Amy, and I think she said my name. Amy’s dad cradled Amy’s soft-bellied mom. He said all of Amy's problems were my fault.

Fucker.


"Cut. Cut!" Maximus gave the universal chop-chop motion, flat-palmed across the front of his neck. "Censors say we go any further and we won't be able to shelve this in the YA section."

Mrs. McGillicuddy stopped transcribing.

"Let's move on to the S & M scene," Maximus said. "Bring in the whips and cuffs. Places everyone. Ready Mrs. McGillicuddy?"


Continuation: M.G. Tarquini

52 comments:

Nut said...

Yew.

In this instance, I'm not sorry for my own rudeness.

Do people actually read this stuff? Maked me glad, I'm a plant.

illiterate said...

I'm with nut, on this one. Though I'm not a plant.

mark said...

Okay, it's kind of funny, if that's the intent. And this would be fine on (say) page 53, after we've met everyone and are engaged.

But whoever told you sex was a good hook probably forgot to mention the addendum, "but anuses aren't." I tend to think the only place you're going to find pendulous balls on the first page is in the erotica section . . . and this isn't erotica either.

But it's well written.

whoever said...

Um, wow. What genre is this? Who is the target audience for this? Sorry, I just can't imagine this being appealing to anyone.

*backs slowly away from the computer and goes to scrub eyeballs*

Daisy said...

This is one I couldn't even read far enough into to write a continuation for. There may be a market for this, but it sure isn't me.

magz said...

Well, I thought it was ballsy and well written, though likely to be difficult to sell.

Personally I appriciate sex brought out into the cruel light of day, as opposed to fluffing it up in tender romancy stuff.

Brave job, Author, and a funny on-target continuence!
I'd read this book just to see where it goes.

born_liar said...

Well, it's attention-grabbing. I hope there's an explanation in the next few paragraphs of why Amy seems perfectly okay watching her parents' sex videos, though. I think most teenagers would rather not know their parents have ever had sex, let alone watch it.

pacatrue said...

The problem I have with the opening isn't its explicit references to sex, it's that I don't get what's going on in the main characters heads. I think it's supposed to be a gross but slightly amusing opening, but I don't really get the impression that the characters view it as gross and slightly amusing. We get the idea that it's gross with the "ewww"s but the characters appear to keep watching the video through multiple sex acts. Maybe it's like watching a train wreck where you hate what you are seeing, but you can't pull your eyes away. But if that were the case, we wouldn't have the super casual popcorn making at the same time.

In the end, we get a couple of people who apparently just like to sit around watching their parents have graphic sex like it is no big deal. And, well, that isn't a pair of people I'd rather read about. I think you need to find a more sympathetic reaction to the video from our protagonists, or, if the point is to show how jaded the characters are so that they grow through the book, then you need to find some other reason for us to like the characters enough to keep reading despite their current ickiness.

Pete Tzinski said...

I think that if, at any point, while writing anything you consider using the phrase "pendulous balls" (and you are NOT Edgar Allen Poe) then you need to stop writing, get some fresh air, and consider your work very carefully.

Also, double check to make sure you aren't writing a children's picture book.

bonniers said...

If I picked this up in the bookstore, I would give it another page or two to prove it was going to address some of the issues -- literary family drama appeals to me.

If it's a gross-out book aimed at the college crowd, or if it thinks it's funny, I'd pass.

I agree with Pacatrue; I'd like to know what the narrator is thinking. I'd like to even know who s/he is.

Zombie Deathfish said...

Aside from the comments already made, I have a problem with the multiple "Amy's mom this... Amy's dad that..." Can't they have names of their own? Or at least be Mr and Mrs Something?

sksukqr - sound of Zombie Deathfish attempting to swim backwards away from all the anuses.

Malia said...

blink blink

Brewer's yeast followed by pendulous balls -- an image I never want again.

Anonymous said...

I hope there's an explanation in the next few paragraphs of why Amy seems perfectly okay watching her parents' sex videos, though. I think most teenagers would rather not know their parents have ever had sex, let alone watch it.


When I was a young teen I found some pictures of my parents having sex. I'm still traumatized. Seriously. The idea that a teenage girl would comfortable make popcorn while settling her male friends down to watch such a video makes me not only ill, but extremely doubtful. What's wrong with her?

I'd drop the book in a second unless told by the back cover blurb that it plans to deal with why Amy is a moral vacancy.

Bernita said...

Updated Salinger?

kis said...

I got the impression that the two guys popped in the video of Wizard while Amy was unaware in the kitchen making popcorn and getting snacks. I'm envisioning a horrible scene when she realizes just what they're watching.

Or maybe they're a bunch of granola-munching, weed-smoking, free-loving hippie kids who were raised watching Sesame Street while their parents boffed on the sofa right next to them. I've known people like that. They're freaks, but they exist.

I'd read further, just to find out which scenario is correct. Whether I'd read more than that...

braun said...

Yeah, I wouldn't be real surprised if this author opted to remain anonymous.

Personally, I'd need to know a lot more about the book to keep going. Is this opening scene purely for shock value? Just to be funny? Or is there a deeper reason.

Truthfully, this would be a really hard sell if I wasn't previously familiar with the author.

Anonymous said...

People put yeast on popcorn?

ls

Chumplet said...

My eyes are bleeding!
At first I thought the pendulous balls were made of brass, then I read on. Ak! I hope it's a joke. Maybe the balls are so big because it's a wide angle lens.
Then I read it a second time, because the first time my eyes refused to focus. I wiped the blood out of them and got curious.
Who is the narrator? Not Amy, not Mark, but somebody who is close enough to be blamed for Amy's problems.
Take out the anus and maybe you'll have something.

acd said...

I'm going to stand up for this one; I think it's well-written and sets us up a nihilistic, touchy, somehow world-wise narrator. He moved from pendulous balls to a telling conversation between the parents so quickly that I'm confident there will be more substance to come, and that the vulgarity will be more insightful than gratuitous.

Anyway, maybe Amy is already high enough to watch her parents' sex tape.

ello said...

Blech!!!!

This one really gets a reaction doesn't it? You'll either be fascinated enough to read on or you'll drop the book like a hot potato. I have two reactions. Out of curiousity, I would read on for another page to find out what happens when Amy finds out these boys are watching her parent's sex tape. (I have inferred from the fact that she is popping popcorn that she is unaware of what has occurred.) I would be curious to see her reaction.

However, the visual imagery with the dad's anus really grossed me out so I have a feeling that if I was in a book store and I picked it up, I would put it down fast. I haven't invested in the characters that early enough to be willing to get past the anus shot.

Anonymous said...

"Take out the anus and maybe you'll have something."

Yeah, hemorrhoids.

Novelust said...

Pendulous balls is a touch too much. Balls do fine on their own. :)

It's certainly attention-grabbing. Including yeast so near the sex adds another level of ick, and anus puts it over the top. If that's what the author is shooting for, I'd say it was a pretty good job. I agree with the commenter about changing 'Amy's Dad' and 'Amy's Mom' to Mr. and Mrs. Something.

I found myself wondering if our protagonist was mentally unstable, and if he/she was imagining/hallucinating the part where Amy's parents talked about him/her. If this is the case, I would read on a bit further. The character won't get my sympathy without getting funny fast, but I'll stay and watch a car wreck.

pjd said...

A lot has been said already that I agree with. Additional thoughts:

I can't figure out the relationship of the narrator to Amy. Why Mark would be making out with Amy but Amy's dad says Amy's problems are the narrator's fault... I don't get it. Brother/sister? Step-siblings? Cousins? Boyfriend/girlfriend? Something else? I assume it becomes clear later, but for me, not knowing got in the way of understanding what was going on and interrupted the flow of the prose.

"... soft-bellied mom" didn't fit with the rest of the piece for me. The only real visual details we get are "pendulous balls" and "soft-bellied mom"... yet porn is extremely visual. The other items (anus, giving head) seem gratuitous because the action and details on the screen don't seem to be of that much importance (though there is a masculinity consideration attached to big, brass ones... not that I'd attach anything to them myself, mind you).

The "cried after she orgasmed" implied that she was crying over the sex, for reasons unknown. Then the next sentence says the narrator knows Amy's mom is upset about Amy, and that's why she's crying. Is this supposed to show that she gets emotional after orgasms? That her mind is elsewhere?

For me, too much happens with too little emotion, detail, or characterization. If the porn is truly important to the story, I want to know more about it--what do Amy's parents look like, are they enjoying it, do they talk to each other during, what do they say, does it look like they've done this loads of times before... and if it's not important enough to go into that kind of detail, then I'd like to see it glossed over without any detail. What's important is how the teenagers are reacting to this, what they think of it--are they learning from it, disgusted by it, what? Focusing on the details that bring out the deepest reactions in the narrator would characterize him better.

Finally: If the video distracted the narrator, maybe he shouldn't hear the initial question, only Mark's response.

(Oh, and Mark is going to eat popcorn AND make out with Amy? Sounds messy. But then I'm getting old, and I understand teenagers these days are good at multitasking.)

M. G. Tarquini said...

Chicken.

spongey437 said...

All I can say is - WTF????

Do people really read stuff like this because I wouldn't have gone past the part where Amy's mom gave Amy's dad head except that I knew it was going to end in a sentence or two.

To me this sounds like some 14 year old writing like this because he thinks its cool.

Feisty said...

Yuck!

kis said...

yeah,ls, I thought that whole yeast thing was grosser than the pendulous balls. But as far as porn is concerned, well, I've seen my share, and there's been no shortage of hairy backs, belly fat and sagging flesh. Usually on the men. Most of the time, it makes me wish the actors were doing it with the lights out.

Anonymous said...

That was just disgusting. Makes me want to wash my brain out.

And did it not occur to you underage folks might be reading this blog?

Minion 828 said...

And did it not occur to you underage folks might be reading this blog?

I can think of worse places for youngsters. Some of them might learn something about writing. Unfortunately, most of them would leave this blog within 30 seconds, and head for an actual porn site.

Chumplet said...

How can you have hemmorhoids without an anus? Yeah, I know - it's off topic...

Nut said...

Okay, Chumplet, no more coffee for you!

Leah said...

I'm seventeen.

I really wish I hadn't read that.


I don't think EE needs to censor, I just thought the whole thing was gratuitous (and disgusting).

xiqay said...

Don't know the genre, but I'm guessing it's YA because we have teens in the opening.

Here are my (lengthy) comments. Sorry for the verbosity.

1. Never heard of brewers' yeast on popcorn. Butter, salt, even caramel or cheese, or nothing. These seem like more reasonable options.

2.I don't have a clear idea who is speaking, who is the POV character.

3. Didn't like the "Ewww"--seemed too babyish. Maybe "disgusting" or wtf or oh, gross, or something. Ewww sounds like 12 and under.

4. After you set up the situation (Amy's popping popcorn, it's midday, teens cutting class, getting high, watching videos--and the video switch), you re-focus on the actual video being shown. I have problems with how the video action is portrayed. If Amy's dad is adjusting the camera, he's either in front of it or behind it, but looking at the camera. Full frontal nudity-not the anus. (NO reason for it-other than crudity-I agree with those who object.)

5. Amy's mom gives Amy's dad head (also crude). probably okay because it conveys quickly and efficiently what is happening.

6. Mark's comment-perfect.

7. Mark goes to eat popcorn and make out with Amy. These seem like somewhat-incompatible activities. At least we get the idea of relationship.

8. Narrator keeps watching the video--okay. Now I really want to know who this is. Is this a girl or boy? Is he or she watching the video so as to not watch Mark and Amy?

9. Amy's mom has an orgasm. She does that giving head? Or the dad is superman and manages to enjoy head, then get erect again and satisfy his woman? Just sounds so preposterous.

10. Amy's mom cries afterwards--totally not believable. IF she had an orgasm with her husband, and they're intentionally filming their love-making-why would this happen? The line, mom is upset about Amy, is lame. No POV character could possibly know that. And even if it were true, I doubt that this situation would evolve the way described.

So by this point, I am completely not believing this story and not wanting to read on. Not because of the sex. But because of the poor mechanics, lack of credibility.

11. There is one possible saving clause. If POV is Amy's ex-boyfriend and dad said it was POV character's fault that Amy got pregnant, and mom is crying to think that her baby did the nasty with POV character, and her own love-making has brought this to the fore of her thinking...then this could make sense.

But if that's what's happening, then you need a serious re-write to let us know and keep us reading.

12. Based on what is written, I have no idea what the story is about, what the conflict is, what the premise of the story is. Worse, yet, I have no idea who is the POV character and why I would care about him or her. I wouldn't keep reading.

illiterate said...

I cannot imagine discussing my kids, while in the process of/just done doing you know what.

Kids watching their parents on tape. Funny? I'm not commenting on that.

McKoala said...

Crude, yes, but this is well-written I think. But who is the audience? Who is going to buy/read this?

Anonymous said...

The voice is young. Does the author mean this as a joke?

kis said...

That's kinda my issue with it. What's the audience? I'm not interested in reading about dumbass teenagers skipping school to get stoned. I'm not saying I'm too mature for that, it's just not my thing, and I'm assuming a majority of adults aren't into that, either.

But if my fifteen-year-old ever came home with a book that opens like this, well, I'd go to the store that sold it to him and tear the clerk a new freaking anus. Little Timmy can learn about sex the old-fashioned way--on the internet.

PicAxe said...

The writing is good, the set up is . . . unlovely. I'm not sure what the market is for pendulous balls and anuses--but I think I have a pretty good idea why the soft-bellied woman cried.

Really, the video idea might work, but there's just too much, uh, information here.

desert minion said...

As a YA, I might tone down the sex just a little (though not get rid of it), and play up the awkwardness and fascination both, but it's actually a pretty good setup for an older YA.

And it's pretty well written, too.

HawkOwl said...

I'm totally with Magz. I hate sex scenes in fiction, normally, in great part because they're so fake and manipulative. This is what sex actually looks like when you're having it at home. And yes, if you're in the position I think the man is in, the camera is gonna get a good view of your anus. Kudos for writing probably the most plausible sex scene I've ever read.

As for the novel, I'd read on. I'm picturing it as a cross between a much darker White Oleander and Christiane F. (Does anyone in North America actually know who Christiane F. is, or am I betraying my Old World catholic girls' school upbringing?)

Rock on, dude!

Cathy said...

This scene could be funny and poignant if positioned somewhere else in the story (maybe just a little farther back), and if you displayed how horrified Amy is to see her parents doing it, and her boyfriend seeing her parents doing it. I get no sense of that.

Anonymous said...

hawkowl-
I know who Christiane F is. Could well be the whole catholic thing.

Nut said...

"This is what sex actually looks like when you're having it at home."

Oh, I give up. You mean people actually tape their own buts? Great.

Zombie Deathfish said...

Do we know if the narrator is a boy or a girl? I assumed a girl on my first reading, then thought maybe boy on the second.

I expect Amy's mom cried because of the pendulous balls. I know I wanted to cry.

JerseyGirl said...

Pendulous balls? My first thought, after a good laugh, was the Absolutely Fabulous episode where Bubble says to Edina, "I'd like to have your breasts. Large, pendulous breasts." Meh.

Okay, snarkiness over. I have to agree with others that I don't see what the audience is for this. As an adult, I really wouldn't care about what a bunch of stoner teenagers are doing.

And it was hard for me to figure out the POV on this. Or was it supposed to be omniscient? I don't really go for omniscient POV because it's so hard to do well.

So let's see. Have to figure out the target audience and confusing POV. I don't think I'd continue to read this one.

~Nancy

Jeb said...

If Mom is discussing her kids and crying right after a tape-worthy sex bout, then it sure wasn't her who wanted sex at that moment. And that raises almost as many disturbing implications as the teenagers watching the tape and not gagging.

I'm assuming (kindly) that the purpose of the tape scene is to show our mysterious narrator is considered a problem by Amy's parents. But no way would this get through as YA, which is read by people much younger than your high school class-cutters (and regularly censored by their potentially self-taping parents).

If I'm right about the purpose, it could as easily, and more realistically, be achieved by having them find a file of Dad trying to program the web cam or following Mom around the house with his new digital camera with 2-minute-video-feature while she's trying to have a serious conversation about their screwed-up teenage daughter.

Anonymous said...

Y'know, I'm with PJD on this one:

If the porn is truly important to the story, I want to know more about it...

Yeah, I want to know more about it, too. Oh, and does the book have pictures?

kis said...

...a tape-worthy sex bout...

Sadly, most of the sex that makes it onto tape is not tape-worthy. And this pretty much fits into that category. This is real sex, bellies jiggling, balls hanging, ass-pimples and all. (I know ass-pimples weren't specifically mentioned, but I do think they'd add a certain flair to the scene.) I'm totally with hawkowl: this feels all too appallingly real. The only thing that's missing is the dad kneeling on the mom's hair. Hey, wait--maybe that's why she's crying.

And to the author, kudos for the fact that this bit has generated so much comment. Whether they're praising you or swearing off sex forever, at least they're talking about you. ;)

Anonymous said...

Anyone can get a response by shock/crude tactics. Just didn't expect to see it here.

Kept thinking, Brewer's yeast - is this an American craze? Isn't it used for beer and health food pills? Are they stoned?

Someone, somewhere will like this but, judging by the reaction of the readers here, your fans will be in the minority.

Who are you writing for? Who will buy this? More importantly, what agent would represent you?

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'd read this. And yeah, I'd like to know more about the narrator's relationship to Amy (I assume they're school friends--s/he makes that pretty clear by saying it was a typical day of skipping school to get high and watch Wizard of Oz.)

I didn't think any of it was too graphic or unpleasant. I mean, the author doesn't go into loving detail describing the dad's anus.

Oh, and I liked the "Amy's dad this," "Amy's mom that," "Amy's dad," "Amy's mom." I think it was deliberate and it worked for me.

Love,
a sub-literate future grad-school dropout

PS: Brewer's yeast on popcorn is totally normal. And I bet it would be delicious.

Author said...

My comments don't post on EE's site, so I'd like to take this
opportunity to thank the minions for so much helpful feedback, and to
apologize for offending those with delicate sensibilities. I'm touched
that so many of you who were thoroughly grossed out took the time to
give thoughtful critiques. This has been a lot of fun for me. (I didn't
clock the disgusting yeast/sex juxtaposition until y'all pointed it
out.) I based this rewrite on your suggestions, and I changed Amy to
Hannah in order to play up the hippie parents. Personally, I miss the
pendulous balls, but here you go:


“Butter or nutritional yeast?” Hannah was popping popcorn.

“Butter,” hollered Mark.

I’d have requested yeast, but the video of Hannah’s parents distracted
me. This was what married people did?

We’d planned a normal afternoon: cut school, get high, zone out. We
were going to try that thing where you mute “The Wizard of Oz” and play
“Dark Side of the Moon.” Mark said it was supposed to be really deep.

It was all Hannah’s dad’s fault; he taped his sex stuff over the movie.

When Mark first popped in the tape I wasn’t sure what we were watching.
Sure, Hanna’s dad was naked, but her mom was chatting about how the
Winn-Dixie had started carrying soysage and organic milk. When she took
her clothes off, I understood what was going on.

“Awesome,” Mark said. He shoved off the couch and closed the door to
the kitchen.

In the video, Hannah’s mom hung up her skirt. She folded her big beige
underpants and placed them on the chair by the bed. Then she gave
Hannah’s dad a blowjob.

Hannah’s parents did all the things I’d never done. They were saggy and
soft-bellied, but it didn't seem like a big deal to them. Once,
Hannah’s mom said she was worried that shopping at Winn-Dixie made her
a bad person, like she was betraying the co-op, but otherwise they
didn’t talk. Each time they switched positions, Hannah’s dad got up to
adjust the camera angle. He stood right in front of the lens, at crotch
level. His pubes were greying, like his beard.

“Ugh,” said Mark, “this is so not like porn.” He left the room. Maybe
he was going to make out with Hannah or to eat some popcorn, I don’t
know.

I kept watching. I guess I’m a pervert.

It lasted maybe ten more minutes. Hannah’s mom cried after, which
weirded me out as much as the sex part. She was upset about Hannah, of
course. Hannah’s dad said everything was my fault.

Hannah's dad was a fuck-face liar.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was a good rewrite...but I didn't have any problems with the original. It seemed like stark & ugly real life to me, and a REAL window into the narrator's mind. It's obvious to me that readers are supposed to ask, Why is this teenager watching his/her friends' parents fuck? And who is s/he?

I think those are good questions to ask. As long as the second one is answered promptly, I'm good with this.

I think some of you need to grow up, truthfully. Ooh, body parts that are actually real. I need to go scrub out my eyeballs. Get a grip.