We’re at mid-week for Round 3 of the Deathmatch Quarterfinals, and things immediately kicked off with a bang. Competitors Brittany Smith from Toronto and Vancouver’s Emily Kendy have so far proven themselves highly snappy verbal pugilists, defending both of their solid stories with a ferocity and passion that Beyonce herself would be proud of. Throw in accusations of thesaurus overuse, “clunkie junkies,” a highly vocal BFF, purple hats and a Dustbusters vs. Vacuums debate and you have yourself some mighty fine reading. This cross-coastal rivalry deserves a strong finish.
Smith’s story “Muscle Man” is a vividly rendered depiction of a family’s unraveling, a brother’s addiction, mutilated figurines and Popples and a little boy’s final act of misplaced “manhood.” Though Smith was praised for the story’s “writerly polish,” natural tone, emotional heft and readability, it was also critiqued by commenters for stuffing too much into too few paragraphs, creating a less-than-believable addict and overall playing it too safe, narrative-wise.
Kendy’s piece “Trying” is a fanciful, imaginative tale about a woman who may have found the man of her dreams at a Vancouver market – and it just so happens that he’s is a half-foot high doll with a crooked smile and a taste for beef jerky. Kendy’s piece was praised for its dry humor, ambition, comical tone and interesting use of language. However, it was also lambasted for a clunky beginning, a lack of originality and too much wordiness.
We enjoyed this round so much that there’s no comment that could be deemed “the worst” — but there’s a number that we thought were the best, mostly delivered by the competitors themselves.
1) Brittany: Emily, if you are weary of responding, I’m sure we could find something else about your story to criticize.
2) Emily’s BFF: Just let me get dressed in All The Purple, pull out my 9th Grade Essays, put on Gladiator, and bookmark thesaurus.com. TEAM. EMILY. FOREVAH.
3) Emily to Terri Favro: I’m enjoying loosing (sic) more than your story.
(Props are also due to last week’s winner Favro for coming back and checking out this round’s stories – happy to have you back!)
(Ed. note to all Deathmatch authors: We like you a lot, but SPELL CHECK your comments or these commenter jackals will eat your ass for breakfast.)
Both competitors should be given ample props for their willingness to accept constructive criticism and their thoughtful commentary. We get the sense that they will both be taking this process to heart and reviewing their stories in light of some of the better suggestions shared by readers — that’s what real writers do, folks. Regardless of how this plays out, they’re both winners. That being said – this shit ain’t over yet! Go over to the Round 3 page, read the stories, sound off in the comments and VOTE VOTE VOTE!
In the spirit of competition, I’m gonna let the Talking Heads play us out – cause THIS AIN’T NO DISCO.