The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden (Is a Rose Press 2016), my fourth book, gathers flash fiction written in recent years (much of it for this blog)—from a series of surreal memoryscapes (featuring the woman with a beard and her friend, the metaphysical toad) to flash thrillers to psychological experiments. This hybrid writing, as regular readers of my blog have come to expect of my flash pieces, blurs genre lines across poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and cultural criticism in what I hope you will find an entertaining montage of imagery. The woman with a beard—the unnamed main character of the first series of stories and familiar to readers of my blog a few years ago—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 theoretical 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 many lines of possibility through a collection of slightly 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—again, I hope—entertaining readers and exposing the characters’ performances of our odd humanity.
Ayelet Cohen, a filmmaker and artist who is a good friend of mine, lovingly illuminated the book with silhouette art. The illustrations that grace this blog post provide an example of her marvelous visual art.
Find The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden at or on Amazon.
Earlier versions of some of the individual pieces in this book appeared in Bluzog and Meat for Tea: The Valley Review. Both The BeZine and The Woven Tale Press included more than one of my flash works.
Almost all of the pieces in The Toad’s Garden section and many in The Palm Reader section originated from experimental writing. The best experiments came from open invitations I posted on social media and this blog for readers to post five free-associated words for me to use. I would use them in groups of five contributors, for twenty-five words per piece. Contributors, in alphabetical order, include (apologies if I missed anyone): Stanley H. Barkan, Lucile Barker, Michele Baron, MaryLee Brag, Paulette Buche, Joanna Chen, Carolyn Hoople Creed, Cathy Crossan, Aviva (Frankel) Dekel (my loving wife), Jacqueline Dick, Rivkah Dickel (one of my amazing daughters), Paul Dickinson, Christine A. Farley. Jonathan Freed, Gabriella Garofalo, a blogger known as “godess of small things,”, Jeffrey M. Green, Zena Hagerty, Lisa Holden, Chinedu Jonathan Ichu, Jerry Ingeman, Jonathan Jones, Ampat Koshy, Donna Kuhn, Elena (Zykova) Lacy, Kate Lamberg, gary lundy (my beloved fellow traveler in poetry and beyond), Aviva Luria, Mamta Madhavan, MaryAnn Franta Moenck, Alan Nettleton, Martina Reisz Newberry, Bozhidar Pangelov, Anna Patterson, Jen Pettit (one of my sisters-by-choice), Agnew T. Pickens, Lynn Pries, Nalini Priyadarshni, Louis Profeta, Donna Pryor-Foote, Julia Raymond (another of my amazing daughters), Steve Silberman (fellow photographer-hiker), Mike Stone (brother poet), Uwe W. Stroh, Susan Thornton, Jason Topp, Rayona Tuneelo, Monika Ashwin V (a strong supporter of my work), Peter Valentine, Michael Veloff, Steven Wadey, Eileen Walsh, Clare Washbrook, Nicholas Whittaker, Dane Zeller, and Verica Zivkovic.