After The Fires Review: The Peterborough Examiner

After The Fires Reviews
Saturday September 13, 2008
Award-winning writer pens After The Fires

Rewiew by Susan Dyment

The opening tale of Ursula Pflug’s “After The Fires” occurs at a waterfront while mist and amnesia move in and out of the scene. A second selection of the book?s disturbing tales arrives in New Orleans, but there is no flood disaster here, only the dreamscape of feminine psychology (with animal morphism) ornate ironwork seen through gauze curtains, and a labyrinth of social necessities, shamanistic niceties and psychedelic ritual. ?She wonders if she hasn?t missed the way, wishes briefly she?d talked to the condor after all.?

This is the place where the punk ?scene? departed from the optimism of the hippy movement into the ?real? world of soul searching and survival downtown. Here a feathered birdman may visit one of Pflug?s inner city apartments, an oozing Grandmotherly ghost may lurch forward to explain classism in poetics, or a crow may watch passively from a chair. Pflug swims gracefully into an alternate reality to bring back words with their nervous systems on the outside of their bodies. She deposits them before our horrified eyes and we emerge improved by the experience.

In Italian cinema, the Surrealist use of large, open places to evoke potential and freedom in the face of Fascism is a frequent motif. During Mussolini?s time, they often used the beaches and open places along Italy?s highways to create this feeling of space, a horizon towards which the dreamer runs.
While the world Pflug creates is tensioned with useful allusions to oppression as well as cauchemar horror, the counter-placement of people next to unexpected objects and within strange settings is beautiful, bizarre and bleeding in a bright red way more dignified than a lie.

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