Wednesday, April 25, 2007

New Beginning 267

I, Kawamoto Shiro, having reached my forty second year, resolve to end my life upon the conclusion of my trial. This I vow to my mother, eager for news of my death to end her interminable shame. I await a trial to punish me for actions taken in the name of the Emperor, our Tenno, the Heavenly Sovereign. No mere mortal but a living god. Or so we have been taught from childhood. To worship, to idolize, and to give up our lives in the hopes of eternal glory. All for our Tenno. So we were taught and so we obeyed. And in his name, I have given nearly everything of value in this world but my own worthless life. No, not given, never given. Given implies acquiescence. I did not acquiesce to the loss of my family. No, they were stolen from me.

Nagasaki. August 9, 1945. My soul died that day. Thirty miles separated my fate from theirs. Thirty miles that can never be crossed again in this world. Thirty miles beyond the shadow of death. I have no more to live for. I have no life to live. This all must end, but not yet.

"Yeah, yeah, that's all very interesting Mr. . . . ah . . . Kawamoto. But you still gotta realize we got standards in this country; and I'm tellin' ya, that fish was undercooked. I mean, Jeez: it may as well have been raw."

Opening: Ellen Oh.....Continuation: Anonymous


Robin S. said...

I'v been waiting for this one to come up.

I really enjoyed reading it, and I'd read more. Well written.

takoda said...

There's some famous book by some famous author--someone please help if you know this info! A very wealthy man writes his will in the begining of the story, has greedy relatives waiting around--he ends up jumping out the window. Before he does this, he changes his will at the last minute to give everything to an unknown daughter in Africa. Meanwhile, the relatives are not allowed to see the contents of the will until after 30 days. Everyone assumes they're inheriting a fortune, everyone goes on a shoppig spree...

The tone and pace of your beginning remind me of that book. I really liked it. Good luck.


dan said...

Overall I liked this and would keep reading.

Here are some nitpicky comments:

If the shame of Mr. Shiro's mother can be ended with his death, then her shame is not "interminable" ;) Regardless, I think that word could be cut. I understand the character narrating might in general throw in adjectives that are not strictly necessary--that's fine--but "Shame" is such a powerful word on its own. I can't see it needs any modification here.

In "I await a trial to punish me for actions taken in the name of the Emperor, our Tenno, the Heavenly Sovereign. No mere mortal but a living god." -- I'm all for sentence fragments but I think this one is less effective than proper grammar would be. A dash, a colon? I dunno. It's just up to this point the reading was smooth and this fragment tripped me up. No big deal and I'd keep reading, but.

In "No, they were stolen from me. -- I think you can cut the "No," and start the sentence on "They"?

Robin S. said...


It was a John Grisham novel, I think - but I don't remember the title.

Dave said...

I like this as an opening but the writing seemed to me to bog down in the middle and end of the first paragraph.

Hwalk said...

The beginning didn't lend itself to a humorous continuation at all--I really was getting quite emotionally involved with the first part.

pacatrue said...

I thought this was good as well, but that it bogged down in the middle to end. Specifically, it became a "as you know" journal entry. He thinks this way about the Emperor already, so I don't think he's spend time explaining why he thinks this way. He'd simply say that he has given all to the Emperor, a god, and not explain that it was because of his education, etc. The only reason he'd go into that in his own head is if he's doubting his beliefs.

In short, I think you can trim the last few sentences.

ello said...

I was really interested to see how a humorous continuation would be done and this one was good.

Thanks everyone for your comments. I agree it does bog down and I can explain exactly why. This is not my original opening. I plan on submitting my original one to EE for posting and I would love to see the comments for both. I actually chopped this opening out from a longer journal entry to use as the beginning of my first chapter. It's why it is not as smooth as I would have liked.

Thanks again and keep an eye out for my alternate opening.

CSInman said...

It was intriguing (I want to find out more about his shame!) but I have to point out that someone philosophizing about believing what you're told seems kind of juvenile for a man in his forties. Usually that's the stuff of teen rebellion years. Whenever I've encountered a grown man who bothers to tell me that, I've inevitably discovered he's trying to score drugs, and apparently I looked like a good source.

It looks like other people don't feel the same, but I don't want to read a book written from the point of view of an aging hippie who is still impressed by the fact he figured out a human being isn't a god. If that was played down in the first paragraph, though, I would read more.

Anonymous said...

csinman -

You were kidding, right? This story takes place in 1940s Japan.
Radically different culture and background.


sylvia said...

Takoda: it's "The Testament" by John Grisham. I had to run up to my bookshelf to look, as I immediately recognised your description.

I like Grisham's stuff, it's like a thinking man's version of Harlequin Romance ;)

takoda said...

Sylvia and Robin--Thanks!! That's it! John Grisham's "The Testament!"

Pheww! 'cause I was reading it in a waiting room a couple of years ago, and never got to finish. Thanks!