Friday, March 13, 2020

"The Legend of Carter Bale" — A Short Story Review

The short story “The Legend of Carter Bale”—penned by Shelton Fisher—is a fine example of mediocrity.

The story takes place during the Great Depression. Carter Bale, a moonshiner within the Riverbend Hooverville's, creates a criminal empire. In addition to defying Prohibition, he tortures people who gets in the way. At some point he tortures the wrong lad; he removes the eyes of a young boy in the woods. It's revealed his mother is a witch. One night, using magic, she removes Bale’s eyes to give her son his vision back—and making the criminal disappear like a rabbit in a hat.

The predicament with this tale is the style. It feels like a second draft—a first one in certain areas. The style is bland, and elementary school teachers should use it for proofreading assignments. The reader discovers bad writing in the first two sentences. The author doesn’t comprehend, in its entirety, the concept of proper nouns. The Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression are both proper nouns, thus demanding capitalisation. Not doing this is incorrect and unprofessional. A third grader with a D in English should find this laughable. Such schoolboy errors are persistent throughout the short story, and readers will note the wordiness and punctuation that is suitable only for RPG's.

Had he penned a third draft—or at least revised the current draft enough to leave that impression—with critical contemplation, this tale would’ve been better. (An English textbook used for K-5 students would’ve been useful for self-editing too.)

As for the story itself, there's nothing noteworthy. It’s your typical revenge tale with a moral. Nothing new is present. The setting is interesting; desperate people resorted to crime to afford food—taking advantage of Prohibition—hence the Italian Mafia’s heavy activity throughout the 20’s and 30’s. But Fisher should’ve made the setting more useful. This story could’ve taken place in modern-day Detroit with a few minor tweaks. There are some inconsistencies present. At the start the story implies Bale is intelligent, but he decides to sip moonshine that, obvious to a rational mind, is ruined and burnt? A third draft or heavy revision could’ve fleshed out the characters in this story more, even if attachment is undesirable.

Being a standard revenge story with schoolboy errors and a poor structure, “The Revenge of Carter Bale” is worthy of two people: those suffering from acute boredom and teachers finding samples for an English class. I’m aware of repeating myself, but the author should’ve written a new draft (or revised this one) before sending this to Creepypasta. Being free to read doesn’t vindicate mediocrity. Yet here we are.

You can read the short story here: