by Daniel Paul
Hey Richard, (though do you actually prefer to go by “PureBloodRicky”? Both names were on the manuscript.)
It was really great to finally get a chance to read your work. You have such a visceral and unique voice; I actually have no idea what most of the slang (slurs?) you use even mean, but it all still jumps of the page. It’s also hard not to be impressed by your ambition here. After reading so many quiet, domestic stories—will Jim overcome the weight of small losses? Will Jenny learn to love again?—it’s a breath of fresh air to read something so direct (even if I think the title, “A Plan To Shoot The Jews Into Space,” might be a little on-the-nose).
This piece just has such a constant sense of drama. I always know exactly what your narrator wants (“to send David back to the stars,” great wordplay btw) and there are clearly established obstacles between him and his desires (such as the high cost of rocket fuel and the global prohibitions on ethnic cleansing). You also do a fantastic job balancing the chronic tension of “The Jewish takeover” with the acute tension of your narrator’s frustration over the lack of support from the “bitch ass white power pussies who used to stand for something.” Your narrator yearns for a simpler time: what could be more universal than that?
On the whole, this is a highly ambitious piece, with stylistically complex voice and a clear sense of its audience; A great example of this is the opening line, “Dear brothers in white struggle,” which both establishes the tone for the reader immediately, and hints at some journals/message boards that you might be able to submit this to after a little revision. Strong work.
Some (small) thoughts for revision:
First, there are a few things that might be worth clarifying just a little. For example, you mention “The International Jewish Banking Conspiracy” an awful lot here, but never explain it. I would suggest just telling the reader up front how it works. It wouldn’t take more than couple sentences of exposition (spelling out things like Which Jews? and What they are doing?) and it will really help to ground the reader. Or, if you want to sustain dramatic ambiguity, perhaps build to a more climactic reveal? (I also have a few small mechanical questions, like How many spaceships would you need? and Have you ever actually met a Jewish person? that you can find in my marginal notes.)
I also wonder about your use of form here. While the step-by-step structure does help answer some of the logistical questions your reader might have (for example, section three, “Getting The Jews To Pay For It” does at least partially confront the financial challenges facing your narrator), but even in experimental work, formal verve must give way to conventional character development. I kept waiting for the moment when the form broke down a little bit and revealed a little more about your narrator’s underlying psychology. Put another way, what does “blasting those Jew Bastards to the asscrack of Jupiter” represent to him beyond the literal blasting?
There’s also the question of length. I, personally, love stories that bend and break the “rules” of fiction, and I know from your comments in class last week that we are on the same page about this (even if I don’t quite see how the Aristotelian “three-act structure” is, as you put it, “a tool of white genocide”). But it’s always a question of how far you want to push against the norm. Specifically, I understand that backstory is important, but including a 10,000 word section about the history of eugenics movements (charmed as I am by the title “Darwin Knows What The Fuck Is Up”) might limit the amount of places you can ultimately send the piece out to. I don’t like it, but that’s just the reality of publishing these days.
Lastly, (and I feel weird even mentioning this) I do think we should maybe discuss your use of certain tropes/themes/hate speech. I totally understand what you’re going for here (the way you deconstruct the whole Nazi/not Nazi binary is pretty remarkable) but I can see how a certain type of reader might potentially get the wrong idea about this whole advocating getting rid of a race of people element, and it might distract from what is otherwise such a readable piece. I’m not saying you should cut it, per se—I know that you prefer not to receive proscriptive feedback from your workshop peers, or law enforcement—but I wonder if you might find a way to modulate the tone somehow? Anyway, it’s just something you should be aware of. Though maybe I’m wrong. It’s possible that the whole anti-Semtic theme is just one reader projecting something onto the text. I’ll be curious to see what others in class have to say about it.
Anyway, great work. I think you only need to do some minor tinkering here before you send it out.
Sincerely, your workshop mate.
P.S. We should totally grab a coffee and talk about this more. Though, don’t worry I won’t suggest Starbucks haha. I don’t completely understand what you said in your story about it being “the drug den of Zionist heathens,” but I definitely prefer to hit up independent cafes whenever possible. Peace!
Daniel Paul received his MFA from Southern Illinois University and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Cincinnati.