Monday, August 3, 2015

First Impressions - Goodnight Sweet Prince



I can't believe it's August already. How does that happen? Why does summer seem to fly by while winter drags on forever? Anyway. Welcome to another edition of First Impressions! Today we have the first page of Maria Ann Witt's YA contemporary re-envisioning of Hamlet, GOODNIGHT SWEET PRINCE. You can see more of Maria over at never mind wasting time.


Five hours into the ten hour flight from Copenhagen to Detroit most of the first class passengers were asleep. Harm tried. Seat reclined, headphones on, eyes closed, music playing, pushing ‘next’ repeatedly before accepting that next was never any better. He switched over to replay the voice mail message from three days ago.
Harm, they’re talking about a new contract. Whatever you do, don’t sign anything without talking to me first. And don’t let Mars sign anything either. Call me when you get a chance.
Listening to Dad’s voice, he could picture him—gray hair, thick-rimmed glasses, and kind, serious expression. He hadn’t called back. Between late night shows, and later night parties, and sleeping it off, there hadn’t been time.
Christmas. That was the last time he’d talked to Dad in person. Lied to him. How was everything going, was he getting enough sleep? Sure, Harm said.
“Touring is tough, I’m proud of you.”
Dad had toured a year before quitting his band and becoming a wildly successful songwriter. He clapped a firm hand on Harm’s shoulder. “Good grades, last report. That’s important. Gotta think long term.”
The tutor must have taken the tests. All Harm did was scribble his own handwriting on the papers and get a recap of what he’d learned. The formalities of being a minor in show business. Dad knew a lot about the business, but he didn’t seem to know that.
The last time he’d seen his dad and he’d lied. It hadn’t bothered him then, but now, it felt like someone was strangling him. He gasped and sat up, arms flailing defensively.
“You okay?” Mars asked. Next to him, his younger brother’s seat was upright, his skinny arms and shoulders tense under his tight black leather jacket, as he turned his phone over and over in his hands.
“Can’t sleep.” Harm said, shoving his headphones off. He thought about the Ativan in his pocket. He was trying not use them. Didn’t trust Mom and her doctors. So easy to get hooked on stuff.
Mars nodded, and turned toward the window, even though the plastic shade was closed. His phone vibrated with a loud hum, and he jumped and almost dropped it.
“The funeral’s Monday,” he said, checking the message.
“Huh,” Harm said. “Guess Paolo canceled Oslo for nothing.”
“We couldn’t have done anything. . . ”
“He didn’t know that!” Harm’s voice came out harsh in the steady hum of the plane, and he dropped it back to a half-whisper. “All he knows is the show must go on. Dad was in the hospital and we were out there shuffling. We should have been on this plane yesterday.”

***

My thoughts: My first thought is that I was hard pressed to find much to pick on and the two bits I did find are pretty subjective. The first was this sentence: "The last time he’d seen his dad and he’d lied." For some reason I want to cut the and. I think. The second spot is near the end: 

“The funeral’s Monday,” he said, checking the message.
“Huh,” Harm said. “Guess Paolo canceled Oslo for nothing.”
“We couldn’t have done anything. . . ”
“He didn’t know that!” Harm’s voice came out harsh in the steady hum of the plane, and he dropped it back to a half-whisper. “All he knows is the show must go on. Dad was in the hospital and we were out there shuffling. We should have been on this plane yesterday.”

I was a little confused by this exchange and by the word 'shuffling.' Does he mean performing? And if all Paolo knows is that the show must go on, then why did he cancel Oslo?
  
My last thought is that I think this is a great first page and I adore the premise. I would totally pick this up and want to buy it to see how it all plays out. Will Harm die in the end? Who will be his Ophelia? What's Mars' role? Very intriguing.

Readers, what did you think? And if you want to see a different take on this first page, check out what Dianne Salerni and Krystalyn Drown had to say. 

14 comments:

  1. Confused on lots of levels - but more than willing to read more.

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  2. Actually, I was confused through most of it.

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  3. somebody should put August on trial for this shameful sneakiness.
    The first page didn't really grip me.... but I'm difficult to grip :)

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  4. I have to say that the first few paragraphs did nothing to grab me.

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  5. I'm a sucker for Hamlet stories, so I'd definitely keep reading. I'd want to know who his Ophelia is, too.

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  6. This was a great entry! I left my (rather long) comments at Dianne's, but wanted to stop by and read Marcy's crit. Spot on, as usual. Wishing you both a great week. :)

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  7. Here I am again, trailing behind Lexa, just like I did on Dianne's place. :)

    Just wanted to check out your critique, Marcie. Nice job. And again, I would definitely continue reading this story.

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  8. I like this a lot too. I think, thought, I'd delete this sentence, since it slows up the story: "Listening to Dad’s voice, he could picture him—gray hair, thick-rimmed glasses, and kind, serious expression." I have to think that since Dad is dead, it doesn't matter too much what he looked like?

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  9. Good descriptions. Wow. A fine writer always picks me up and puts me in the middle of the scene. And there I was, sitting in the next aisle. :)

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  10. The writing is so smooth and descriptive! Loved this!

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  11. Yeah, I already commented once. I do really like this first page.

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  12. Thank you Marcy, for your helpful feedback, and to everyone who commented. I was planning to start the chapter with a short quote from a press release, but I decided to leave it out here, to save word count and see if the story could work without it. I'll post it here, and would be interested if anyone who read wants to share if you think it would help with the confusion, or if it doesn't really add anything.

    (Press Release, March 18, 2015) Artiste Tours regrets to announce that Rock Escape has canceled their concert at Forum Copenhagen on March 19, 2015 due to the untimely passing of the father of band members, Harm and Mars Genova. Our thoughts and hearts are with the Genova family at this difficult time. The remaining European concerts in the Whole Wild World tour have also been canceled. All tickets for the shows on March 19th, 20th, and 21st will be refunded.

    Thanks again for all the feedback and encouragement!

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