Piano Man by Maria Delaney

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result every time.

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pfgpowell
11 months ago

Well, here goes:
I don’t think we ‘allow’ our eyes to grow accustomed to darkness, they just do. Also bass players don’t ever ‘strum’ their guitar, it’s not that kind of instrument.
And Blythe simply taking off doesn’t ring true: she either wouldn’t, but simply sit out the night in a bit of a huff, fed up with her friend yet again making a mistake and never learning.
Or he irritation, and irritation great enough for her quite dramatically and unexpectedly to cut loose and leave should have been signalled in someway a little earlier. You do say that her laugh is ‘hollow’, but that isn’t quite enough (in my view). It would need just a little more qualification to establish the point that to a certain extent she is humouring Autumn.
There were also one or two lines, for example, ‘What if he could ease this loneliness, Blythe? Maybe shed light on my dark?’ which don’t ring true (unless spoken in an ironic way and there is no indication of that).

pfgpowell
11 months ago

You would certainly strum a guitar and, unusually, you can strum a bass guitar, but if you did so it would be an unusual technique you were using for a very specific reason and you wouldn’t certainly not do so often. And it is very rare, mainly because the effect it produces isn’t particularly outstanding.
As for the stern expression, yes, obviously Blythe has had enough of nurse-maiding her friend, but abruptly just to walk out of the club? Doesn’t persuade me.

pfgpowell
11 months ago
Reply to  maria delaney

Bass guitars are picked (sometimes with a plectrum though that usually by rock players), more often with fingers. and only with fingers if the bass is not an electric but an upright, which you find increasingly rarely used, mainly because they are a bugger to transport. But the tone is lovely and rich.
As for ‘hard critique’, well, I do, and it is often the seemingly trivial things which are useful. So, for example, someone pointed out that in my story I was using some words – filler words she called them – rather a lot, but it hadn’t really occurred to me. Sometimes you try to tweak as story so intently you don’t see the wood for the trees (well, sort of, not quite the phrase I want, but I’m sure you know what I mean).
I find ‘hard critique’ 1,000 times more useful. ‘It’s was a lovely, lovely story’, gets you bloody nowhere.

Seyi
11 months ago

I commend your bravery in tackling this setting. I feel it so familiar that it’s very easy to fault ANY description except for one that extracts something really special and very different. I liked the effort you put into creating the mood with the back and forth between Blythe and Autumn (I particularly liked your descriptions of their entry into a crowded jazz bar and the possible effect of multiple Speakeasies on their mood as the night wore on). However, I thought some of the descriptive phrases you used were a little formulaic (for example, the reference to a “hazy room”) though I loved the ending to the same sentence. The references to a “jazz band jamming,” “fedoras hanging low” and “words spilling off his tongue like candy” also seemed like phrases that have been used previously to describe the same setting. The phone call they made up with was a cool touch (particularly the giggle they shared), makes the story more about friends than about Autumn’s foolish heart. Definitely a jazz bar for me this weekend !

Melissa
11 months ago

I really enjoyed the banter in your story. This my favorite kind of romance; the kind where things go wrong and people make mistakes. I honestly didn’t pay that much attention to the setting because I wanted to know if Autumn would make the same mistake again.

Jes
Jes
11 months ago

Fun read. I liked you descriptions about the bar. The interaction between the friends are believable like the minor argument before the bar closed. At the end it sounds like Blythe would had still been friends with Autumn no matter her choice, best friends forever. 🙂

Kim
Kim
11 months ago

Hey Maria

Reading this , I kept hearing Steve Perry crooning away and now I can’t get this song outa my head.

I loved the vibe you created, the sultry music , the drinking , the ‘throwing yourself at the sexy pianist cos you feel lonely’ – all very believable to me.
I don’t agree with Patrick that the friend wouldn’t storm off like that …. It very much depends on how many times she’s had to pick up the pieces after Autumn, to me it reads like she’s done it plenty and has had enough. I can see that happening, truth be told. And the quick forgiveness at the end is also very typical amongst friends, especially if copious amounts of drinking was involved.

Can’t comment on strumming or picking any stringed instrument -I’m not a muso so you’d need to ask someone who is.

A few grammar nits , but only because the rest flows so smoothly… with another critical eye those can easily be rectified.

I thoroughly enjoyed this.

I’m still humming the song, probably go to sleep with it playing in my mind

Hyle Bathurst
11 months ago

Maria!
This story gives me a 1920s vibe and I absolutely love it! (I watch black and white movies on TCM all the time.) So the jazz and the speakeasy drink and the hollow love reminds me of something I would watch,
I also adore how Autumn struggles with the men in her life and in the end she realizes that her friend is more important. Love isn’t everything. Well, romantic love isn’t everything. Friendship love is important too.
Your message in this is so heartwarming.
Thank you for sharing!!!
Hyle

Amrita Sarkar
11 months ago

Hi Maria,
This was a really refreshing story about love, relationships, breakups and finally getting to know oneself. I don’t have any idea about the setting, so it was quite naturally a very engrossing and informative narrative for me. I love reading stories where I get a glimpse into a culture that I haven’t ever seen or witnessed. The description of the New Orleans jazz bar really drew me in. I love the play of human emotions and frailties that you so subtly depict in your stories. Especially in these lines – ‘I insisted the bartender whip together a concoction that mends a broken heart. He calls it a Speakeasy. Swears what lies within is the magical cure to all evil.” Blyth recites the last part with a Vincent Price spooky voice then raises her glass. “To no more unapproachable men.” She laughs a bit after the toast, but it’s hollow.’ The ending made me feel relieved and hopeful for Autumn. Beautiful story! Thanks for sharing!

R.L. Nel
11 months ago

I wish I had written this! I LOVE jazz and often attend shows. I’ve also been lucky enough to go to the Blues Alley (a mostly jazz joint, despite the name) in D.C. So to me this was an authentic description. Sure, I don’t have enough technical/musical knowledge about bassists strumming (I think I myself have said it!) or plucking or whatever the hell it is they do to create their magic. So learning the correct way of describing that is certainly helpful. That being said, I think the first commenter was needlessly hard on you. I get their point about only being flattered in the comments not always being helpful, but kindness is key and I don’t think it’s necessary to make EVERY comment about a piece negative! There was much about your piece that I loved, such as the description of the setting, the drink concocted by the bartender, the music, the interaction between the two friends. I also like that they made up in the end, and that she didn’t go to the hotel! Well done, Maria!

Amrita Sarkar
11 months ago
Reply to  R.L. Nel

Rachel,
I agree with you. I felt the same way about the first critique and yes, it is important to be kind. I too felt that there was so much to absorb in Maria’s writing, the setting, the atmosphere, the characters – it offered me a glimpse into a whole new world. It is indeed a great story.

Amrita Sarkar
11 months ago
Reply to  maria delaney

❤️?

R.L. Nel
11 months ago

I wish I had written this! I LOVE jazz and often attend shows. I’ve also been lucky enough to go to the Blues Alley (a mostly jazz joint, despite the name) in D.C. So to me this was an authentic description. Sure, I don’t have enough technical/musical knowledge about bassists strumming (I think I myself have said it!) or plucking or whatever the hell it is they do to create their magic. So learning the correct way of describing that is certainly helpful. That being said, I think the first commenter was needlessly hard on you. I get their point about only being flattered in the comments not always being helpful, but kindness is key and I don’t think it’s necessary to make EVERY comment about a piece negative! There was much about your piece that I loved, such as the description of the setting, the drink concocted by the bartender, the music, the interaction between the two friends. I also like that they made up in the end, and that she didn’t go to the hotel! Well done, Maria!

Peggy
11 months ago

Ah, Maria, I adored this. I had the impression that Blythe knows Autumn better than Autumn knows herself, and just wants the best for her friend. There was a time when I could have been Autumn, flirting with the wrong men, the difference was that I never got my heart broken because back then I didn’t care, more likely I was the one breaking the hearts. Still, I would have loved to have a friend like Blythe, who cared enough to try to make a difference. I’m glad that Autumn made the choice that she did in the end. A great story, Maria. I loved it.

Julie-Anne McDowell
11 months ago

Maria, I felt that I was swaying to the music right there in the jazz club with these two friends. It was a sexy piece that reaked of rebound and I found their relationship believable and familiar. Glad she chose her friend over the guy. Loved the jazz players names.

Valerie Ciolek
11 months ago

I think you depicted a lady looking for love in all the wrong place pretty good! I enjoyed the read.

I liked the how the friendship played out between Autumn & Blythe. It seemed like Blythe seen her friend go after the wrong guy – time after time. As Autumn must of took her on an emotional roller coaster so many times.

I don’t think Autumn was at any risk of losing Blythe’s friendship, I think Blythe was just tired of the bullshit. Your excerpt below sounded rather harsh and conveyed potential permanent end to their lifelong friendship:

“I watch her push through and melt into the crowd. The drinks sit abandoned on the cocktail table. Blythe’s desertion stings hard. She’s someone I could always count on. Losing our friendship would be the largest failure of all. We’ve been best friends since grade school.”

A very good read!!

Angelique Pacheco
11 months ago

Well done Maria! I love your descriptions, the banter and argument between besties, the ambiance of the club, the references to “speakeasy”. It all renders an authenticity to your piece. Loved it!

Chantelle
11 months ago

I really enjoyed this one, Maria! I thought you created a very interesting setting, I could just see the crowd and the players and the two main characters. As always, I enjoy the detail you work into your pieces, this adds colour and realism to your world.

I actually had sympathy with Blythe and saw her storming off as realistic. Sometimes there’s only so much you can do for someone, but if they insist on hitting their head against the same wall… I was glad Autumn decided not to go to the hotel room – we can all guess how that would’ve ended.

I liked this one, thanks for transporting me into someone else’s world for a bit 🙂

Debbie Gravett
10 months ago

Thanks for the immersion into a well described location Maria. It felt authentic and I could feel Blythe’s frustration at her friend’s bad choices. I’m glad she made a better one this time.

A few minor issues that another read through would catch.

Well done.

Olga
10 months ago

Oh yes Maria, this is about friendship thru thick and thin. I had a friend like that, deeply in love the moment she spotted the guy and ending in heartbreak. Totally believable to deliver the ultimatum and walk out. More or less like a bucket of cold water might do to bring her to her senses, if she has any left. But still respond to the sheepish call later and carry on. So good, you have removed ‘allow’ agreed on that. Agreed also on the harshness of the tone in the first critique. rather over the top I think.
b.t.w. I like the title. Like Jazz and this story, with or without strumming. ?? xox