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Great Concept, Better Execution

By Chuck S-L, member

Jul 11, 2010: "She needed a story that others could slip into, a story that would overflow its sentences, a story like love."

Metafiction is a hard thing to do right. It’s easy to lose your reader in experimental nonsense or lugubrious faux-Borges prose. When the metafictional conceit is a commentary on the financial reality and dynamics of online fiction, it has even more of a chance to appear crass and ill-tempered. The percentage of low-quality attempts in this genre only make the exceptional successes shine that much more brightly.

"Commercial Fiction" is one of the first pieces of online fiction to make me lean closer in my seat, to smile and nod my head, and even to exclaim aloud, "yes! this is just right!" It all starts with the prose: beautiful, lyrical prose, latched to a distinct voice and mood, always directing the reader forward and enlivening the imagination without ever obfuscating. A training manual on the construction of cardboard boxes could thrive within prose like this.

Yet the structure and substance here are, so far, every bit the match of its content. Characterization and scene are layered elegantly upon the clever "story within a story within a story" framework, so that a concept which could easily detach the reader from any interest instead grips the reader even more closely to the fates of the players involved.

It’s hard to decisively praise a work so early in its development, but once the donations and the suggestions trickle in, this story has the potential to go almost anywhere, with this brilliant foundation keeping it afloat.

3 of 3 members found this review helpful.
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