Thursday, November 15, 2018

Tidhar, Unholy Land (2018)

Lavie Tidhar, Unholy Land. Tachyon Publications, 2018. Pp. 288. ISBN 978-161696-304-0. $15.95.

Reviewed by N.A. Jackson

The narrative of Lavie Tidhar’s novel ducks and dives like a prizefighter, leaving his reader reeling. The protagonist, Tirosh, slips between worlds: the war torn lands of the Middle East, contemporary Berlin and other imagined worlds brought to shimmering life by Tidhar’s close observation. These are the ‘could-have-been’ worlds with elements of historical fact but steeped in mythology and fraught with darker perils and hints of monstrous beings and magical apparitions.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Pflug, Down From (2018)

Ursula Pflug, Down From. Snuggly Books, 2018. Pp. 96. ISBN 978-1-943813-57-5. $10.14.

Reviewed by Djibril al-Ayad

Down From is the shortish (a little over 20,000 words, I guess), dreamlike, fabulist fifth novel by Ursula Pflug, published by Snuggly Books, purveyors of bite-sized experimental and neo-decadent fiction. This is a classic unreliable narrator story, offering themes of uncertain memory, revelation, magic and reality, and featuring a viewpoint character who is uncertain about her own history, relationship with the thinly sketched secondary characters, and even which world she is in. The first half of the book unsettles with missing memories, shifting character names, stilted conversations—putting us firmly into the mindset of the discombobulated Sandrine. The second half changes both direction and pace, giving us a quite different story than we may have been expecting, albeit no less fabulist and semi-realist, and leaves as many new mysteries as we started with. After a slow start, this book rewards the faithful reader, especially if they love magic, uncertainty, fierce and unapologetic women, and stories within stories (and art within art).