This is so touching, it actually brought a tear to my eye. More than touching, though. Surprising. There's a sense throughout that something is hidden, something is waiting to be revealed, but I couldn't imagine what -- although the clues are certainly there. Just lovely.
I think the device of Joe saying goodbye to several neighborhood characters would work quite well. And, as Joe says, he wants "to get things into the right hands." That's a nice thematic link.
Updike-ish. This reads like a short story. At least I can "see" it that way. It's not, of course, but it does remind me of one. Summer of '42 comes to mind. The woman there has different needs, of course, but there is a bit of parallelism here. I need her to be more genuine. No contact between these two for four years except a telescope show?
What about a bit of ethnicity somehow? This "idea" of yours...Joey visiting all the neighbors...I think would fit in more with some kind of ethnic neighborhood. Not sure why I say that, but the close knit neighborhoods I grew up in as a kid don't quite exist anymore. Either Joey or Angie. Maybe one, but not both. Can you expound on her husband a bit more? Apparently she is not a widow. She has "wants" / "needs" much more than Joe does. She knew exactly what she was doing with a young kid w/a telescope. I only say that b/c it's been FOUR YEARS since the bowl was originally given. That's a lot of time.
Exchange is real. Too much of Joe/ Joey for such a short piece (just my opinion...It comes at an awkward time again toward the end and it was already established a couple of times earlier...I don't think the older woman would revert to that again at such a touching "adult" time)
Idea for a bunch of shorts? Terrific. Go for it. Let's see one or two more. I love this kind of stuff.
I had to go back and see how old Mrs E was from your description after I read it.
She felt much older, which made the voyeurism all that more surprising when I came to it.
I like the idea of making the feel of the neighborhood more ethnic. Living in Chicago as you apparently do there are dozens of neighborhoods like this with people who care about each other. It's one of the reasons I love this city.
If you add to this with other pieces, the ethinicity could be drawn thru other characters.
I agree that the four years seems a bit long for the bowl bit.
Giving the brooch was a beautiful touch. Maybe she could have trouble putting it on and he would have to help her, forshadowing the kiss with the closeness of the moment.
I really liked this, I like the way it flowed. The repetition of Joey - Joe -Angie - Mrs Esposito is really leaving the piece in the hands of the actors. If the actors use those words and the way they say them to show us the changing relationship between Joe and Angie, then it could be marvelous. If the actors don't get it, then it could be like that special version of hell that is a high school production of David Mamet.
The story was sweet and - this is my favorite part - instantly intense. Their relationship was so rich already when he knocked on the door. I think it is that fullness that makes the emotional intensity authentic rather than maudlin.
I did wonder why Mrs Esposito, who had married a bad man (implications of abuse) managed to be so perfectly smart in handling the Joe situation. Would it be more in the nature of someone drawn to abusers to throw herself at Joe? Or did she learn from the marriage?
Good luck, dear IMR with this piece.
With all affection
Your friendly neighborhood Swann
What a nice little breath of life. I was touched by the "stay away from bad people".... Simple, but really the best advice someone could give a person.
Mrs. E does seem to carry a little more age as I think someone else mentioned.
The chemistry between them is very nice, though... Joe goes from being that 16 year old boy to a young man.
I'd look at the details of how well these people actually know each other. There was a little uncertainty for me with how familiar Mrs. E was with his mother. I didn't get a real sense of how well she knew his parents partially because she doesn't really seem to know when she gave him the bowl (if it was someone who she knew and had a relationship with this sort of thing my stick in your mind... especially if you've been praying for her orphaned son)...
Could you endow the necklace with more significance? Even if only Mrs. E knew how special that necklace was to his mother, you could establish how big a deal it is that she's getting it and how connected to his past she really is. Merely an idea.
I share the view of some others who posted.. This could be a whole play. I'd be so curious to see who'd get what possessions.
All things come to those who wait. (Well, almost all things.)
Each of you gave me such marvelous Critique and advice at the time, and I incorporated them over the years.
And each improvement led to other’s…which is how it all works.
And now, I was informed I am getting a staged reading of it at a premier theatre with access to a marvelously deep pool of actors.
I’ve had other readings, awards and productions for this and the other related pieces, but this’ll be kind of neat. (And of course, no matter how good they are, they could always still blow it!) I'm actually kind of excited about it.
But, again, I can’t tell you all how much EACH of your critiques helped.