“Where do you plant a seed someone gave you in a dream?”
In these stories seers and vagabonds, addicts and gardeners succeed and sometimes fail at creating new kinds of community against apocalyptic backdrops. They build gardens in the ruins, transport seeds and songs from one world to another and from dreams to waking life. Where do you plant a seed someone gave you in a dream? How do you build a world more free of trauma when it’s all you’ve ever known? Sometimes the seed you wake up holding in your hand is the seed of a new world.
Praise for Seeds and Other Stories:
Review by Zachary Gillian
“As the world emerges, unequally and haltingly, from a pandemic, many of us feel a desperate sense of hope, that same eagerness to find or make something of worth after working through such trauma. Seeds is a fantastic distillation of that attitude, a remarkably consistent collection of authorial intention and human compassion set down over a period of almost four decades. If Pflug’s characters can embrace their own agency, informed by all their past traumas to choose to redefine reality and to focus on their art, their work, rather than the pain of the world, how can we do any less? As Phoebe notes in the close of “Big Ears,” “[s]he might never grow a creature, be able to call its strength and beauty to her, but she had to try. What else was there?””
The Miramichi Review
Review by James M. Fisher
“I was first introduced to Ms. Pflug by her 2017 novella Mountain. Down From (2018), is derived from the seeds of two short stories (“The Dreams of Trees” and “Daughter Catcher”) in this collection of her previously published works from the past decade or so. So, then, Seeds is a fitting title! … Ms. Pflug’s style is a nice little mixture of literature, surrealism and sci-fi. In short, escapist reading with significance, if you will.”
Publishers Weekly Starred Review
Pflug’s excellent third story collection (after Harvesting the Moon) showcases her mature, rich, and immersive storytelling. The stories reflect Pflug’s characters’ resilience in the face of 26 disparate apocalypses, united by motifs of seeds and gardening and a striking juxtaposition of hyperrealism with delicate fantasy. Standouts include “Mother Down the Well,” in which a woman seeks to recover the mother she’s never met from the bottom of a mysterious well; the title story, about a lonely older woman who cares for younger people and plants in apocalyptic times; “Unsichtbarkeit,” about an invisibility spell and its impact on a love triangle; and “The Dark Lake,” a decadent examination of domesticity and magic. Pflug’s careful, detailed worldbuilding is beautiful and the recurring motifs of nature, portals to other worlds (“Mother Down the Well,” “The Lonely Planet Guide to Other Dimensions,” “Myrtle’s Mania”), and personal notebooks (“The Dark Lake,” “The Meaning of Yellow”) make the collection feel cohesive and powerful. Readers are sure to be wowed.
The Des Lewis Gestalt Real Time Reviews
Review by D.F. Lewis
“…when all those people started dying.”
A brief story, yet for one first published in 1983, an amazing premonition of today’s Covid pandemic itself and the Jungian co-vivid collective dreams attached to it. Just read it and see, the air conditioning/Legionnaire’s, the Tobacco Fiasco as an archetypal or symbolic contagion, the whale deaths as well as the human ones. Judy’s documenting of theories about it, visuals and ideas…
THE DREAMS OF TREES
I consider this to be a classic, publishable in future important literary anthologies—Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf (both of whom I have real-time reviewed) here blended with archetypal and unique Pflug. A woman in her thirties with all the symptoms of short-term memory loss usually associated with Alzheimer’s and with longer-term childhood memories of her father and journeys on a train in North Africa. Dreams of trains as well as trees. And passing lozenges of light on seatbacks. With chance or synchronous stumblings in books towards an inner truth. I “parse” such meaning in books with my reviews. Books have their own dreams, too.
THE MEANING OF YELLOW
“…captured and taken on a long ride through inexplicable weirdness—unmoored in space and time, coerced to explore…”
…as I am by this wonderful story, a story that is probably to go in my hall of all time favourite stories by any author! It feels like a very personal story, as we follow Jessica and the yellow notebooks or commonplace books she keeps losing in public places, notebooks, whether permanently lost or refound, seeming to connect piecemeal towards a premonitional gestalt of Jessica’s future. But it was the concept of the yellow couch and her grappling with it Laurel and Hardy Style on an apartment-block fire escape that really got me! You will always remember that this is where you heard of this particular Pflug story for the first time.
Review by Victoria Silverwolf
Canadian writer Ursula Pflug creates works that test the boundaries between mainstream fiction and the literature of the fantastic. Although her stories are difficult to classify, terms such as magic realism, surrealism, and slipstream come to mind. Her subtle, mysterious, and dreamlike tales are as likely to appear in literary journals as in genre publications.
This collection assembles works from as far back as 1983, at the beginning of the author’s career, as well as those published within the last few years. It also includes three stories appearing here for the first time.
Review by Matthew David Surridge
Ursula Pflug’s fiction demands to be savoured. Her new collection, Seeds And Other Stories, holds 26 short fictions ranging in length from flash fiction to short novelettes, each marked out by precise language and fantastic happenings seen edge-on. They’re not linked by plot but by threads of imagery: portals to other places; hallucinatory new drugs named for colours; gardening, and plants sprouting from the earth or human bodies. Each individual piece on its own carries a powerful emotional weight…
As fits the title, there’s a recurring sense in Seeds of connections across generations. The title story is about a presence working to foster connections among youths and potential teachers, to build a better future…Occasionally that’s reversed, as in “Big Ears,” where a young musician helps an older man return to what matters to him. But there’s a frequent sense of steward-like figures, not authority figures, working to make times to come better than the times that have been: allowing seeds to grow and blossom…
Seeds And Other Stories is a rich collection of stories revolving around art and growth. These tales reward active thoughtful reading, and at the same time deal with powerful subject matter. These aren’t easy stories, but they are deeply rewarding ones.