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Brian Lockey

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    Professor of English Literature at St. John's University, NY

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  1. Brian C. Lockey DRAINING THE SWAMPS OF BABYLON Upmarket Fiction Comparables: The Odyssey meets ’70’s counterculture and Southern Rock in my 97,000-word upmarket novel, reminiscent of Roddy Doyle (The Commitments), Dana Spiotta (Stone Arabia), and Nick Hornby (High Fidelity; Juliet, Naked). Hook Line: A former Rock ’n’ Roll singer makes an improbable journey home to help his aging father and reconnect with the love of his life—but before he can resurrect his music career, he must revisit the Devil’s crossroads that beset his youth. Pitch: Having
  2. This is really well-written and a fascinating read, creating that sense of forbidden territory, which drives the reader to keep reading while feeling guilty for doing so. I did wonder about the age of the narrator. But more than that, what was somewhat confusing is that there are so many unnamed characters here, which is obviously a necessity since the protagonist does not know any of them but it does make things a little confusing at times. One suggestion would be to have Chris introduce by name the man who unchains the protagonist at the beginning of this, and then you can use his name.
  3. As Pat said, the scene you draw here is vivid and interesting. I wonder if it wouldn't be more effective to have these characters, Fred and Jacky and Ella, converse in dialogue during the first few paragraphs so as to keep your reader "in the scene". They seem like fascinating characters, and even if some of what they say ended up being incoherent to the reader, it might be more effective at conveying what you want to reader than splitting the scene like this. They could either mention the time before, or say something that invokes the time before. And then after said dialogue, you could talk
  4. Glad you enjoyed it! Also, you are correct about Ticiana (regarding Portugal and Florida). Now I do see how it could be confusing, and I do appreciate you pointing out the possible confusion regarding her origins. You make me realize that I need to clarify early on that, like Whitman, Ticiana is a Gainesville FL native, although both her parents are from Portugal (thus Portugal being in a sense "her country, not his.")
  5. No problem. I just wanted to add that I really like haunted feeling of the pitch. This is a wonderful general conception for a novel, with several ghost mysteries going at once. What did Emma do to make herself feel responsible for her husband's death? What does Nantucket have to do with their past? The past ties with the butler? The mysterious past of the disabled writer? As a reader of this, given the way the first chapter ends, I would be primed to receive some information about the significance of Nantucket within her past.
  6. I just noticed something else: Italian men are not typically known as being "phony-acting." Typically, in the Anglo-American world, the stereotype of Italians is either one of cheating or machiavellian or manipulative. In other words, exactly like Nancy, per your description here, which might open some other doors for you. Hope my comments help as well. I really like the entire set-up here. My other question though was who are they waiting for here? Initially, I thought it was both Janie and the mystery man who were both arriving on the same flight, but looking over it again now, I'm
  7. The writing is really strong here, and the dialogue is also pretty convincing. I have two remarks/ questions: 1. In the contemporary time-period (there is mention of Covid here), when I have not seen a record store in ages, how is an Indie record store managing to make a profit and also employ four employees (Darby, Spacey, Conrad, Mark)? Can't Indie fans get their music over Spotify and the internet like everyone else? I think you'd be better off just making Mark and Conrad two burn-out dudes that loiter around the store. Second, I like Mark and Conrad's dialogue, but it would be even b
  8. It's a great idea for a book in general, and it's a great idea to begin the book with the birth. Maybe leave more to the reader's imagination. In the first few sentences, for example, you don't need to describe her "heavily pregnant body" since it becomes clear by the end of the paragraph what state she is in. Leave the reader wondering here and just describe her "heavy body." Also, as the above commenter said, the dialogue seems off at certain places. Too many details are given through the dialogue, when I think they could be better rendered through reported speech. For example, in
  9. This is an interesting situation for the opening of novel: the clash of the local and familial and provincial on the one hand and the foreign and exotic on the other looks to offer real potential. Especially at the end of this, your reader is really interested to know how the family dealt with the revelation about the "elephant in the room." That said, the very beginning paragraphs are a little confusing and disorienting for the reader. You've got the grandmother narrating, talking about her daughter-in-law and then mentioning someone named Janie (who is not the daughter-in-law but rather
  10. This is a great situation for a novel: a mystery about the death of an intensely mourned spouse, the implication that Emma feels immense guilt, the friend and relative who is trying to trying to get her to move on. I really like that this is the anniversary of the death so that the explanations of the past come naturally as the scene unfolds. This would be a time for remembering so it makes sense to give some of the background here. I really like the idea that the supernatural will be involved and, in your pitch above, the idea of ghosts are both good motivators for the reader to read on. I al
  11. The opening chapter, which shows the malaise of the protagonist and his recurring dreams and which introduces his first and only true love, who unfortunately lives on the other side of the continent: The Heart Also Whispers A Rock ’n’ Roll Odyssey Brian C. Lockey Part One: California Chapter 1 It seemed an azure Mediterranean Xanadu, in which he found himself. Above him stretched a rib vaulted ceiling. Around him the windows and walls were decorated with ancient furnishings and azulejos, these latter depicting an infinite and interlocking series of mad cupids and
  12. The Heart Also Whispers 1. Whitman Whitaker must try to save his job at the university, and when this becomes an impossibility, he must restore his career as a Rock ’n’ Roll singer. Most of all, he must return home to Gainesville where Ticiana, the love of his youth, keeps the fires burning. 2. Whitman faces three antagonists within a narrative that unfolds in alternating chapters recounting events during his youth and during the present. Having grown up fatherless in Gainesville Florida in the shadow of Duane Allman and Tom Petty, Stephen Crane was once Whitm
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