Wednesday, July 15, 2009

23 Secret Agent

TITLE: The Wandering Samurai
GENRE: Literary Fiction (for adults)

The more you think about a thing, the more unreal it can become.

In my father’s house in Yoshihama, in the alcove in his private room, hangs a small scroll. It was painted by my mother’s uncle, who was considered to be a very gifted calligrapher, and presented by him to my father on the day that he married my mother. In thick black strokes are painted the following words, spoken by Basho Matsuo in advice to one of his disciples: ‘Go to the pine if you want to learn about the pine, or to the bamboo if you want to learn about the bamboo.’

Ever since I was a small boy, that scroll has fascinated me. The creamy beauty of the washi paper on the dark yellowy green of the backing paper; perfection of each character, both in its own formation and in its relation to the characters surrounding it; the small red stamp at the bottom which only the best calligraphers should use to announce their own work: these drew me in long before I was able to read the words, let alone understand their meaning. We had other, more showy scrolls, with perhaps a single character or a painting of willow depicted on pure white washi and mounted on deep blue paper with flecks of real gold, and these were hung in the formal rooms for our guests to see, but although I could see their beauty from an objective point of view I was unmoved by them.


  1. I love being drawn into a world different from my own and you do it well. I'd read further. The description of the scrolls is a good indication of the luscious writing that will follow. Good job!

  2. Nice writing. I would read on. :]

  3. The detail in writing is lovely, but this doesn't quite grab me. I do love the first sentence, though.

  4. I loved this. The first line is so simple, yet it draws you in. I think many of us think about somethings in that way... is it real?

    Good luck.

  5. Lovely writing, I would continue in the hopes of finding a fascinating and delicately woven tale.

  6. I would also read on. In fact, I was only going to post on the MG stuff, but the first line caught my eye and I kept reading.

    Proof that sometimes, you don't need anything to "happen" in those first lines...

  7. Beautifully written. I'm waiting for more conflict and information about the character, but what I did read was good enough to keep me going.

  8. Lovely voice, and well-written. Not sure I'm hooked, but I'd give it a few pages to hook me.

    good luck.

  9. Didn't quite grab me. I don't think you need the first paragraph. I liked the second graf.

    But the third has two MONSTER sentences (63 and 71 words), and it's hard work to wade through them ... and this last bit "but although I could see their beauty from an objective point of view I was unmoved by them" sounds like an art essay to me.

    I'd suggest making it a little easier for the reader, and weaving in a bit more about the character sooner to give us someone to care about.

  10. Very well written, but didn't catch my fancy.

    The secret agent might think different though! Good luck!

  11. I would read on! Your writing is beautiful. Good luck!

  12. rite about Asia, and I liked this.

    I would cut the first sentence, since the second sentence doesn't seem to relate to it at all. There's no transition.

    A little clutter in the description of the scroll: considered to be very gifted...spoken by Basho Matsuo in advice...I would cut these out.

  13. Leave off the first line for now. It's probably important, so don't throw it away.

    This is the first literary fiction entry that I've read in this contest that feels literary.

    I am SO hooked.

    Beautiful, simple writing that draws me in.

    Wonderful job.

  14. I wish you had Xed the first line and started with "In my father's house...," but I am drawn in by the writing and would definitely keep reading.

  15. I have no idea what this is about, or where it's going.

    And you know what? I don't care. I'd read it anyway. Hooked.

    That's the power of good writing.