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Fiction Contest - Comments on & amp;quot;The Hounds That Guard... & amp;quot; 

by Holly Doering & r & This story is the only one of the eight in which I felt I was in the hands of a master craftsman. My ear picked up on the subtle eye-rhymes and alliterations of the narrative long before my conscious mind recognized them. This writer throws words around like a professional chef spinning pizza dough on his fingers -- and it only comes down when he's ready, in the shape that he has created for it. The technical craft of the writing in this story was so far beyond that of the other entries as to be in a class of its own. I found myself repeating lines I had just read in order to feel the pleasure of hearing them again. That's good writing -- and certainly literary writing. In addition, the first three pages pulled me into the story with such skill and speed that I found myself slowing down deliberately in order to savor each word. The rhythm of the story was unbroken.

The relationship of the son to the parents is drawn sparingly, engaging the sympathy of the reader without tipping across the line into sentimentality. The scenes along the highway and throughout the outdoors are presented clearly and using concrete images that place us in the immediate moment. The distance between the son and his parents is emphasized neatly by his choosing to sleep on the floor in the kitchen at the end of the story rather than awakening them -- and then, when he watches them sleeping, he is rewarded by a new understanding of them and perhaps of himself.

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