Seeds and Other Stories: Reviews and Interviews 2020-2021

Here are the compiled reviews for Seeds, my reprint anthology from Inanna, published in 2020. I’m grateful to the authors of these lovely reviews, and to the editors of the publications for including us. I particularly enjoyed the interviews this time around, at WOTS Toronto, Speculating Canada, All Lit Up, and Ryerson CJRU.

REVIEWS:

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 27 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…Readers are sure to be wowed.

Read more here.

Zachary Gillan in Strange Horizons:

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?”

Read more here.

Lisa Timpf in The Future Fire:

Reading Pflug’s stories, you get the sense that there is an alternate world somewhere very near to ours, where things are subtly different, and that someone has left a door or a window open to let you slip through. The juxtaposition of the mundane and the magical, the rational world we know and the altered reality of the stories, evoked a delighted sense of surprise and at the same time, gave me the feeling that my brain was being stretched—not in a torture-rack kind of way, but a pleasant one. All in all, Seeds and Other Stories contained interesting, insightful, and thought-provoking stories told with a generous dose of wit—which is, in itself, a kind of magic.

Read more here.

Matthew David Surridge in Black Gate:

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. Together it becomes difficult to read more than a few in a sitting, and that is no bad thing.

Read more here.

James Fisher in The Miramichi Reader:

…a good example of Ms. Pflug’s pragmatic story-telling style as if things like portals and interdimensional travel are occurrences that are not unusual in themselves, they just transpose that way in the telling, like trying to explain the colour blue to a sightless person…Is Seeds and Other Stories unusual? Yes. Far-fetched? Maybe, but not unreasonably so, I don’t believe. But this is what I so enjoy about reading Ursula Pflug. “A little bit of escapism with your literature, James?” “Yes, I don’t mind if I do Ms. Pflug, thanks.

Read more here.

Victoria Silverwolf in Tangent Online:

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.

Read more here.

Des Lewis in The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews:

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.

Read more here.

Lisa de Nikolits in The Minerva Reader:

“An extraordinary collection of magical stories that will wrap you in a timeless embrace and carry you away. Pflug’s wonderfully gentle and ultimately wise insights will break your heart, bring you hope, and encourage you to seek out the enchanted portals of creativity and love that you might otherwise have missed.”

Read more here.

Photo by Andy Carroll

INTERVIEWS and BOOK CLUBS:

Inanna Publisher Luciana Ricciutelli at All Lit Up

All Lit Up Summer Book Club

All Lit Up Staff Discussion

All Lit Up: Books to Read Based on Your Horoscope

Ursula Pflug Author Blog

Derek Newman-Stille, Authors in Quarantine

CJRU The Scope at Ryerson: Kate Gill Interviews Ursula Pflug for All My Books

VIDEOS:

Author Reading

Author Reading


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