I get a lot of mail, and I try to publish a fair selection of it. Some people are very supportive, while others don't like what I do. That doesn't bother me - sincerely, it doesn't. I don't take criticism to heart, perhaps a result of having so many ye ars of my journalistic works blue-penciled to some editor's whims.
I'm anxious to hear your reaction to
the stories too.
The more I see of the cartoons, the more I like them. They appear to be quite original & they set a kind of mood even without the caption. The caption kind of synergizes the effect, I think. The drawing style is excellent.
These remarks are from someone who most people call excessively critical, hard to please, etc. I didn't care for "Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil, thought "East of the Mtns." a near dud, thought "Cold Mountain" beautifully written but got emotionally turned off on about half way thru & didn't finish.
I think I know crap when I see it, but those cartoons are by somebody who ought to get more recognition.
When I first stumbled across your site I was really taken aback. The first three or four stories I read seemed fresh and innovative. However, the more I read, the clearer the limitations of your stories become. For example, White City is a story which absolutely did not need to be told.
It was a simple reworking of In A Lonely Place. In fact, virtualy all your stories look at the same two characters. The insecure, naive, unsure, and essentially colourless first person narrator, and the 'extraordinary' extravert he or she meets and keeps or looses.
One story that really should have been censored is Extraordinary. The female protagonist in this one annoyed me beyond endurance.
Of course, I still have faith in you as a writer, because your style is just so good. However, you seem to be standing still rather than progressing in any real way. You need to stretch yourself. You need fresh challenges. Your stories basically feel a lot like your cartoons: aestethically pleasing, instantly charming, but ultimately confined by their own simplicity.
What a surprise - gentleness on the net. It's like going on a sleepaway again as an adult with a friend from first grade you had forgotten, all new and growingly familiar. With more gentleness and strength, the world will grow better yet.
Hi Xander, LOVE YOUR WEBSITE!! It's really fresh, and I love the cartoons! Black and white is a really striking combination, but here's a suggestion-- you need to have your picture in colour! Lots of love, Dana
firstname.lastname@example.org (Minret High School)
To me, all Xander's stories are exactly the same, except with different names and different occupations for the characters. The personalities of most all her characters are the same; they're people (primarily women) who are unhappy with their lives and do very little about it except get involved with unfortunate people who are probably bad for them. They're unhappy with their jobs yet settle for them. The only woman I recall who does something about her work situation (Lana--I forget the story) gets ahead by looks & devious means, so it's fairly stereotyped as well. I think most of her female characters are pathetic and sad, and her male ones don't do anything for me, either.
I love your writings. I think you are a very clever woman. It is very rare that you meet women with such a creative mind.
I like your vignettes, Amy Beauty Rose and Blue Flower, because they're infinitely sad in some ways but without pathos. Reading them, I feel vicariously, through the writer, the sensation of being down, out, ripped off, thwarted, frustrated, but not dispirited. The leimotif running through the tales is the cry of ambition, however modest, and also that for dignity.
I was expecting so much more. It reads like primetime television. Your illustrations are very appealing and they usually entice me to read what is behind them...only to be left with the sence of being underwhelmed. This is, in my opinion, geared for a young female group.
I wish to use some text from your site above in a sermon illustration magazine to which I contribute. It would appear like this:
"Xander Mellish writes, I came out of the office and it was morning. The sun overhead was brilliant, but the shadow of the tall buildings blocked the light to the street. In New York, there are buildings all around you, so no matter what direction you pray there is always something between you and God, and you end up praying to that. What barrier stands between us and the mystery of incarnation?"
The Lord be with you as you continue to provide a breath of fresh air in cyberspace with some very creative writings and drawings.
My name is Lana Rutter. I am from England. I'm 13 yrs old. I think your site is really good. I don't normally read stories on the net, but for my English homework we had to write a short story, and your page really helped me. THANK YOU. I didn't copy your work, I just got ideas from it.
I stumbled across your work during a half hearted Sunday night meander across the Web, and was captivated. The words that you claim to have stuck onto lamp posts, into laundromats and into pizza parlours, should have been flown from flagpoles, snuck under welcome mats as pleasant presents, and have had pizzas named after them (the Glory Pizza - slightly acidic, but juicy and tasty and full of colour? Many calories, for energy to be consumed means calories).
I don't think Charlotte's Mirror is very good. Actually. the story is ok.... it's Charlotte that doesn't seem very well developed. She seems like a character based on someone you know and hate, and so you end up making her crazy and unlikeable. Her dialogue is a bit surreal.
However, I did find In A Lonely Place to be almost unbearably moving in a way I can't express.
In a Lonely Place would make a great movie, but only if it were done like a European film rather than a Hollywood one. I think it has a lot to say without hitting readers over the head. I could imagine all the scenes in my head. If I were a filmmaker, I'd ask you for the rights!
I want you to know how much I enjoyed your stories, I printed all of them and I am putting them in a binder so that they can be enjoyed forever. You are an excellent writer. I hope you will soon get a wonderful contract by one of the best publishing houses. I am surprised that one of them has not grabbed you already.
I linked to your page in an amusing way. Having remarked to a friend, "If you have a fetish for sex with air conditioners, there's probably already a newsgroup for it on the Internet," I got to thinking, "I wonder if it's true?"
Next time I logged on, I went to Alta Vista, which is a service that searches millions of Web documents to match key words. The service lets you look for words near each other, so I entered "sex NEAR air NEAR condition*."
There were 23 matches, one of them your story Amy Beauty Rose. The quote: "I can't have sex with the air conditioning on," I said finally. "It's too cold. There's no sweat."
Upon reading your story, I realized that some people DO have sex with air conditioners and while people prefer sex without them!
Just a thank you for making a late-night web-browse very pleasant indeed. I greatly enjoyed your stories. Best of luck out there on the cutting edge.
Robert Olen Butler,
I enjoyed your story about Amy. I'd give up on the cartoons, however. They're not very good! Don't mean to be snooty, but take it from an artist...
I read the comment from a ARTIST about your drawing ability and would like to refer that @#$! to some of James Thurber's cartoons.