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Giveaways & Competitions > The Survivor, a FREE short story by Andre Jute

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message 1: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Who will eat Moira first, her husband or the wolves?

The Survivor, a FREE short story by Andre Jute

Grab yours at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/...


message 2: by Katie (new)

Katie Stewart (katiewstewart) | 1099 comments Andre Jute wrote: "Who will eat Moira first, her husband or the wolves?

The Survivor, a FREE short story by Andre Jute

Grab yours at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/..."


Grabbed. If I can't sleep afterwards, I'll blame you.

Thanks, Andre.


message 3: by Margaret (new)

Margaret (xenasmom) | 306 comments Well, Andre, I am nearly speechless for the second time today after reading your literary works. Upon completing your post about Mbopo Oscilloscopo, I immediately went to read Survivor and the author notes on my Android phone. I agree with not keeping this piece in Iditarod. It would have definitely changed the tenor of that story which I loved.

Survivor still has me thinking. Your first sentence is really wonderful; setting the tone as if someone is seeing the entire story from above--removed, dispassionate much like the man, the survivor. The way you transition from his analysis of the situation, devoid of emotion, to the sixth day is stark and unsettling. Then segue to day 29 and the wolves. That the man is still maintaining the characteristics of his profession and probably his personality, despite his situation, is eerie.

Your descriptive phrases bring the story right into the reader's space---"He had expected the wolves two days before when the hunger cramps started. He counted them as they glided wraithlike from the forest, one moment invisible, the next loping elongated cream shapes barely visible against the dirty snow."

Another technique that I enjoyed in Survivor as in Iditarod is the weaving of fact into the storyline; eating crow and the nature of wolves. It is what brings your fiction into the realm of reality.

The last sentence and word are perfect. I might also add that the cover is very clever.

I would also like to discuss what the man saved/protected and why. I do have some theories.


message 4: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
You go first with what he saved/protected, Margie.

It's a long, long time since I wrote that, and the final version of IDITAROD, and also its reception on its recent reissue, have spread a golden glow over the whole affair for me, including by reflection over THE SURVIVOR.

You should also know that of all people, writers probably have the least reliable memories about the difference between what they tried to achieve and what they did achieve, including the motivation (1) of their characters. So you stand a good chance of fixing the motivation of The Survivor for all eternity!


(1) I first wrote "motives", but of course, real people have motives, fictional characters have "motivation".


message 5: by Margaret (new)

Margaret (xenasmom) | 306 comments Regarding what the man saved/protected I think I have more questions than answers, to be sure, as to his motivation.

Why did he place it in the tree instead of the plane? Both places most certainly were cold enough to preserve it. He would not have had to make the sharpened sticks if he kept it in the plane. But if it was in the plane he could not see it as he stayed outside by the fire to keep warm. He needed to see it; keep it in his field of vision. Why did he need to see it and why did he save it? He was initially drawn to Moira by her perfect beauty and fastidiouness. Was it saved in remembrance of that beauty? Perhaps he wished to preserve a small part of her beauty and to pay homage to her; thank her for saving his life. He may also have kept it to signify his love for her and their marriage.

Did he do it knowing that the plane would be eventually be found so people would know what he did to live?

These are thoughts and questions that ramble around in my mind when I am walking the hills reflecting on what prompted The Survivor to do what he did.


message 6: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
That story clearly made a big impact on you, Margie. If you don't mind, I'll wait to answer until everyone else had a go at The Survivor's motivation.

Those who haven't read it yet can get a copy free of charge from Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/... Be warned, it is a horror-story.


message 7: by Margaret (new)

Margaret (xenasmom) | 306 comments Andre Jute wrote: "That story clearly made a big impact on you, Margie. If you don't mind, I'll wait to answer until everyone else had a go at The Survivor's motivation.

Those who haven't read it yet can get a copy ..."


That's okay with me. I would love to get a discussion going. Horror is an understatement...what we are driven to do...what nature implants in her animals to survive...


message 8: by Margaret (new)

Margaret (xenasmom) | 306 comments Andre Jute wrote: "That story clearly made a big impact on you, Margie. If you don't mind, I'll wait to answer until everyone else had a go at The Survivor's motivation.

Those who haven't read it yet can get a copy ..."


I have read it three times now and this last time I picked up some subtle references that I missed the first two times, probably because I was in shock.


message 9: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
It's a story about something that happens more often than you would believe, but that nobody talks about. Even in official reports, a euphemism is always employed.


message 10: by Margaret (new)

Margaret (xenasmom) | 306 comments Andre Jute wrote: "It's a story about something that happens more often than you would believe, but that nobody talks about. Even in official reports, a euphemism is always employed."

Now that is just downright creepy. I must be in a goofy mood tonight (maybe I should not have eaten the entire box of Dots) but now you've got me thinking about another question. Who would you (the reader) rather be, Moira or her husband?


message 11: by Patricia (new)

Patricia (patriciasierra) | 2388 comments Wow, what a question.


message 12: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Margie wrote: "Who would you (the reader) rather be, Moira or her husband?"

No contest. Since I've always had a surgeon's hands, Moira. My fingers would look good with diamonds on them. She was beautiful and in the end she was extremely useful.

That accountant is interesting only because of the situation the accident has placed him in, and his reaction in extremis. Back in civilization he'd hold my attention all of three seconds.

Who would you rather be, and why?


message 13: by Margaret (new)

Margaret (xenasmom) | 306 comments Andre Jute wrote: "Margie wrote: "Who would you (the reader) rather be, Moira or her husband?"

No contest. Since I've always had a surgeon's hands, Moira. My fingers would look good with diamonds on them. She was be..."


I would rather be Moira.

I can not wrap my mind around the thought processes of the accountant.

There is more that I would like to say but I do not want to spoil the story for anyone else.


message 14: by Andre Jute (last edited Aug 17, 2011 04:10PM) (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Margie wrote: "I can not wrap my mind around the thought processes of the accountant."

You're not supposed to; he's in an almost unimaginable situation. He's more than a little detached. I bet he would score in the 20s on Professor Hare's scale of psychopathology. A score of 26 or more defines a psychopath. The question about him is whether he was always like that, or whether the greatest crisis of his life made him like that, even if working with a pre-existing natural inclination.

Margie wrote: "There is more that I would like to say but I do not want to spoil the story for anyone else."

Try careful phrasing. If that doesn't help, make a SPOILER WARNING in ALL CAPS to tell people not to continue reading the thread until they've read the story.

Those who haven't read it yet can get a copy free of charge from Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/...
If you've read this thread you know there's nothing normal or comforting about this story; it is extremely disturbing.

***

I expected you to choose Moira, as I did. We know the value in diamonds!

***

I published THE SURVIVOR among other reasons because it is in its extremity a perfectly encapsulated example of the creative writing teacher's dictum that unless his characters have a problem, the writer doesn't have a story.

***

I've been copied an exchange about this story between two people who've known me a long time. Part of it points out, "...the accountant isn't so much a chilling character as that he has a good grasp of his own capabilities. He knows he won't make it out."


message 15: by Katie (new)

Katie Stewart (katiewstewart) | 1099 comments I'd rather be Moira, too, because I couldn't bring myself to use someone else that way, least of all someone I loved.

I found I didn't really like the husband at first. He was way too cold (that's not an intended pun). But then I realised he was an accountant...


message 16: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Katie wrote: "I found I didn't really like the husband at first. He was way too cold (that's not an intended pun). But then I realised he was an accountant..."

It's obligatory after that to say, "Some of my best friends are accountants."


message 17: by Patricia (new)

Patricia (patriciasierra) | 2388 comments My (best) father was a CPA and not at all cold...


message 18: by Margaret (new)

Margaret (xenasmom) | 306 comments POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT

What I originally was going to say if I can remember (I should have not erased it) was that I found the decisions that the accountant made unfathomable; did he cross from the realm of deliberate, conscience thinking into pure instinct to survive. It seemed that he became a lone wolf or the weakest wolf in a pack based upon the outcome. I can not imagine being that hungry. I would never want to be that hungry...no one would. It's gets one thinking about who you might take as companions on an adventure or a flight across Alaska.

Although Moira was useful did she not just prolong the inevitable? If that is the case then the quote from your friend makes perfect sense. Although knowing one's capabilites, those specific capabilities, is very chilling, to my way of thinking.

And my final thought is that Moira and the accountant gave new meaning to the wedding vows of the two shall become one. Does this tie into his final words and thoughts?


message 19: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Margie wrote: "POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT"

Very discreet of you, Margie. These are tough question. Some I can't answer. I'll quote your words each time so everyone can see what specifically I'm answering.

Margie wrote: "What I originally was going to say if I can remember (I should have not erased it) was that I found the decisions that the accountant made unfathomable; did he cross from the realm of deliberate, conscience thinking into pure instinct to survive."

Most people don't know what they're capable of until they find themselves in such a situation. That's why I took for my main character a decent middleclass man from a profession that just about defines dull. Necessity is the mother of invention, they say. Hunger and thirst must be just about the most driving of necessities.

Margie wrote: "It seemed that he became a lone wolf or the weakest wolf in a pack based upon the outcome.."

About 99% of the writers I know will give you a poncey answer about how skilled writing brought you to precisely the symbolism they intended. The truth is different. I just offer up the elements, albeit a strictly limited number in a strictly defined and delimited milieu, and let the reader choose from the symbolisms conjured up. The technical point of interest here is commonly described as "avoiding unwanted subtexts" but in this case the possibilities of the story are so circumscribed by the character's situation, that any symbolism must have to do with wolves. That's a long way of saying, you have it already, and I don't care which you choose, though I think it would be smart to choose both, sequentially, with a shift at some point in the story when he grows weak.

Margie wrote: "I can not imagine being that hungry. I would never want to be that hungry...no one would. It's gets one thinking about who you might take as companions on an adventure or a flight across Alaska."

The point of good fiction, or perhaps I should say, now that it is no longer politically correct to point to the moral value of fiction, the point of powerful fiction is to make the reader think, conclude something, change something. That is what literature is supposed to do, and at its best does, even when it is dressed up as entertainment or, in this case as a horror story that your average horror story reader will lap up without wondering about the moral implications that bother you. Or the implications of who you would want to travel with over dangerous terrain... I know you're shivering, but I'm delighted that an intelligent reader has such a response. It shows that the story went right in its own terms, even if the effort of writing it was wasted for the originally intended purpose of IDITAROD.

Margie wrote: "Although Moira was useful did she not just prolong the inevitable?"

Sure. But another question, about which there is quite a bit of first-class fiction starting with Dr Faustus, is, What will you give, what will you do for another month of life, even if you know that at the end of that you will certainly die? And there's a bizarre, even grotesque irony in Moira at last being useful as well as beautiful. (Soylent Green as a Benthamist movie!)

Margie wrote: " If that is the case then the quote from your friend makes perfect sense. Although knowing one's capabilites, those specific capabilities, is very chilling, to my way of thinking."

I don't think my friend was referring to that specific appetite, but only to the man's capability to find his way across the terrain to the nearest human habitation. Your misunderstanding is my fault; I should have given you more of the text. "...the accountant isn't so much a chilling character as that he has a good grasp of his own capabilities. He knows he won't make it out. If anyone could give him the skills to walk out, Andre could, if he wanted to. Remember when his vehicles were washed away in a flash flood in the Caprivi. He walked out through the Namib. When they found him, Andre offered them hospitality from desert animals he trapped in the elastic of his underpants and cooked in clay on their own dung. His pockets were stuffed with uncut diamonds he picked up in the riverbed. His water bottle was half full. His creator didn't want that accountant to walk out. The accountant knew it."

Margie wrote: "And my final thought is that Moira and the accountant gave new meaning to the wedding vows of the two shall become one. Does this tie into his final words and thoughts?"

Absolutely, that authorial intention I remember clearly. Without it the story hasn't much point, it's just empty horror for the sake of horror, with a thick veneer of expertise slapped on and the cracks papered over with elegant linguistics. To me the ending lifts the story. With the ending seen in the correct perspective, as you have it, the man is redeemed and the whole is, in those two short sentences, turned into a love story of considerable poignancy.

Without the tensions of that ending, the story wouldn't prey on your mind so, you'd be able to dismiss the character as a psychopath and the story itself as a bizarre experiment stemming from grotesque knowledge gained by overzealous research.

***

The hand with the diamond engagement ring in the tree he put there as an aide memoire and a focal point for the predestined end.

***

An accountant wouldn't say, "Bool. The End." But he would say, "Accounts balanced."


message 20: by Katie (new)

Katie Stewart (katiewstewart) | 1099 comments Patricia wrote: "My (best) father was a CPA and not at all cold..."

Sorry, Patricia, I must know all the wrong accountants. I shouldn't generalise.


message 21: by Margaret (new)

Margaret (xenasmom) | 306 comments Andre Jute wrote: "Margie wrote: "POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT"

Very discreet of you, Margie. These are tough question. Some I can't answer. I'll quote your words each time so everyone can see what specifically I'm answer..."


Here I sit at school about to begin what will be hours of cataloging for people that think a magical fairy keeps this facility going not an educated, degreed, experienced human working on their own time and I read your responses...thank you so very much for your careful, thoughtful and intelligent words Andre...that an author of your talent would take the time to speak to a reader...I'm just about speechless again...thank you...thank you


message 22: by Patricia (new)

Patricia (patriciasierra) | 2388 comments Katie, my daughter is an accountant, too -- and she's a wild child. Way opposite of cold and nothing like the stereotype in any way.


message 23: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Margie wrote: "...thank you so very much for your careful, thoughtful and intelligent words Andre..."

You should be careful, Margie. The reason I wanted time to think was to discover whether I remember my thought processes about THE SURVIVOR outwrite among so many. Same reason I wanted you to go first, to see if you jogged my memory. The process of creating a character is nowhere near as compartmentalized and deliberate as my explanation and particularly my friend's make it sound. By the time a writer hears the voices in his head for transcription to the page, many of these decisions about the character were made without spending a moment's thought on them. For instance, while I now tell you the character is an accountant for blah^5 reasons, all of them good and reasonable, he just *was* an accountant the first time he appeared in my head and I put him on the page, because an accountant was just so right for the way this fellow thought and spoke, even to himself.

You don't create characters of such depth as the lead in THE SURVIVOR, able to affect readers so powerfully, by the numbers, purpose-designed for the role in the pigeonhole. First the character is there, created by all his (offpage) past actions and his milieu, then his actions follow from his established character in conflict with a change in his situation, then his character grows a bit more. That's the magic of literature.

Good storytellers create good characters instinctively; the reason I am able to give a coherent account of how it happens is because, as a motivational psychologist, I am professionally inclined to ask the same questions the most intelligent students of literature ask.


message 24: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Patricia wrote: "Katie, my daughter is an accountant, too -- and she's a wild child. Way opposite of cold and nothing like the stereotype in any way."

Hah! Dakota Franklin has one character, Joanne Bartlett, who is an accountant... I wouldn't want to surprise her in a dark alley.


message 25: by Margaret (new)

Margaret (xenasmom) | 306 comments Andre Jute wrote: "Margie wrote: "...thank you so very much for your careful, thoughtful and intelligent words Andre..."

You should be careful, Margie. The reason I wanted time to think was to discover whether I rem..."


Again wonderful insights... what I just wanted you to know is that I appreciate you taking the time to respond...readers appreciate that...well, at least I do


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