The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden
Michael Dickel’s highly engaging fourth book gathers flash fiction written in recent years—from a series of surreal memoryscapes to flash thrillers to psychological experiments. This hybrid writing blurs genre lines across poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, and philosophy in an entertaining montage of imagery. The woman with a beard—the unnamed main character of the first series of stories—travels as much in her mind as in the world around her, but somehow all merges with her memories to reveal emotional realities of being human. She and the toad commune somehow, through magical surrealism and mystical physics. The toad provides metaphysical commentary, at times. The garden may or may not exist. The palm reader in the second series of stories predicts the uncertainty of multiple futures which unfold in the following stories—less connected than the toad’s garden, the palm reading follows the many lines of possibility through a collection of somewhat, but not much more conventional tales. Yet, any conventionality is only on the surface—just beneath, under the cracks in everything, the stories remain surreal, mystical, strange while entertaining readers and exposing the characters’ odd humanity. These stories will amuse you as you keep reading, unable to stop yourself from finding out what next outlandish reality will appear on the pages.
War Surrounds Us
Michael Dickel’s third book of poetry collects poems he wrote during the Israel-Hamas conflict of summer, 2014. The poems evoke a resistance to the violence all around, and make acute observations of its effects on family and daily life—from the provocations before, through the disruptions of rockets falling on Jerusalem and devastating loss of human life during attacks on Gaza, and past the line of failed cease fires to an uneasy truce. The closely observed incongruence of daily life while war rages comes through as the poet witnesses his young son’s responses and considers the question of the future we want versus the one that is coming.
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