Seeds and Other Stories by Ursula Pflug

Seeds and Other Stories


Ursula Pflug

(Inanna Publications, June 5, 2020, pb, 320 pp.)

“Mother Down the Well” (reprint, not reviewed)

“The Lonely Planet Guide to Other Dimensions”

“Big Ears” (reprint, not reviewed)

“A Room of His Own” (reprint, not reviewed)

“Washing Lady’s Hair” (reprint, not reviewed)

“Seeds” (reprint, not reviewed)


“As If Leaves Could Hide Invisible Beings” (reprint, not reviewed)

“The Dreams of Trees” (reprint, not reviewed)

“On Fire Bridge” (reprint, not reviewed)

“Castoroides” (reprint, not reviewed)

“One Day I’m Gonna Give Up the Blues for Good” (reprint, not reviewed)

“Kaolani, from Kaua’i” (reprint, not reviewed)

“Fires Halfway” (reprint, not reviewed)

“Hamilton Beach” (reprint, not reviewed)

“Judy” (reprint, not reviewed)

“Myrtle’s Marina” (reprint, not reviewed)

“The Dark Lake” (reprint, not reviewed)

“Harker and Serena”

“The Meaning of Yellow” (reprint, not reviewed)

“Trading Polaris” (reprint, not reviewed)

“Bus Owls” (reprint, not reviewed)

“A Shower of Fireflies” (reprint, not reviewed)

“Daughter Catcher” (reprint, not reviewed)

“No Woman Is an Island” (reprint, not reviewed)

“My Mother’s Skeleton” (reprint, not reviewed)

Reviewed 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.

“The Lonely Planet Guide to Other Dimensions” alternates the stories of two women. One is a writer, struggling to complete a tale set in a hotel. The other arrives at a hotel that changes position from time to time. It soon becomes clear that the writer created the other woman’s world. The two characters eventually come together, and the writer understands the importance of her work.

Stories about writers run the risk that their authors are just talking to themselves, without communicating with readers. As always, Pflug shows great skill in creating characters and evocative descriptions, but some will find the theme of this story too introspective.

The title of “Unsichtbarkeit” is the German word for invisibility, a theme treated in different ways. Early in the story, the narrator literally disappears from sight. She also works on a computer program that will allow people to erase traces of themselves. In the most metaphoric sense, the narrator’s lover vanishes, later discovered dead by his own hand.

Much of the story deals with the relationships among the narrator, her lover, and a German cabdriver. The narrative, addressed to the dead man, jumps back and forth in time as the narrator recalls their lives together. There are hints that sinister forces, perhaps governmental, drove the man to suicide.

Despite the melodramatic elements of the plot, reminiscent of a spy story, this is mostly a mood piece. The cabdriver is a fully developed character, but the narrator and her lover remain vague.

In “Harker and Serena,” carved wooden poles drift down a river from somewhere upstream. They seem to have magical powers. A woman collects these, and sells them to mysterious figures. A man who grows lichen and leaves on his body arrives, and becomes her lover. She uses one of the poles to cure her son of a fatal illness, leading to unexpected tragedy.

The story ends suddenly, with a scene of gruesome violence that seems out of place. As in many of Pflug’s works, strange events remain unexplained, creating both intrigue and frustration.

Victoria Silverwolf was going to compare these stories to Impressionist paintings, but thought that sounded pretentious.