31 thoughts on “SEEDS And Other Stories – Ursula Pflug

  1. 28073FA6-0CA5-43AB-8992-E91A78336C36MOTHER DOWN THE WELL

    “We worked most of the morning and half the afternoon with a complicated assemblage of pulleys and rope, magnets, delicious snacks, and photographs of my brother and me when we were babies.”

    From tablets of stone as part of our statue syndrome today, often, at least figuratively, posted out all over the world via the in-boxes of our souls, to a well where mother is deep within and whence she gave birth to this narrator and her brother. One tablet, albeit cracked, had words inducing the ‘hawling‘ her back up to live among them, including among the narrator’s indigenous friends, whatever the name of their colour. I say ‘hawling’, because that is my word, but the “leverage” described in the above quote seems for the first time to define that word for me, and to help us understand bereavement’s coming of age as a well’s leverage of birth. A beverage beyond death’s thirst. And thus here, deep down, to feel its emotion. That and naming deers after famous artists, and skinning them as an oblique turning of a kind or blind eye. Humanity cannot truly exist without learning such oblique things from the instinctive truths of fiction. The art of believement.


    “She wanted to write something that felt like dipping a bucket into a well brimming with colours and secrets and raise it, ever so slowly to the top”

    If the previous story was marginally about portals and dimensions – this one seems to be an apotheosis of such, as if someone has sat down and decided to write of nothing else, designed for portal story extremists! But, somehow, it is tantalising, too. Which reality sticks more, as reality, than the other, if concomitant, reality? With a gentle touch, as well as an intrinsically concentrated view of writing fiction as a teaching of such writing, too. Here, the oscillation between two hotels, slippery in time and place, as if fishing with the earlier leverage toward a town called Dream either further down the road or not. People whom you perhaps once knew, or not, and the contention that to exist in someone else’s story is preferable to not existing at all…whatever the laptop or typewriter used.

    “; the mints were unwrapped, slightly dusty and sticky. […] —it was as if the sand itself was sticky.”

  3. I don’t think this was intended – but please consider the character Big Ears in the Noddy books as throwing an oblique light on this story: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Ears_(character)


    Here, Big Ears a lateral leitmotif for musical muses that follow musicians around in the shape of evolving animals or birds or mythical beasts, and surely they need a good muse today, if the musicians still want to perform live!
    Muses as another provocative version of this book’s portal syndrome…?
    And here, the engaging, mind-stretching scenario is a forty-something male saxophonist and his Platonic ménage with two twenty something musical women, and it’s fascinating to see their well-drawn interactions and their backstories sometimes in fighting substance abuse. And the nature of their muses in interaction, too, the man’s mutant hairy monster dogging his footsteps, sometimes unnoticed, and a woman’s bird creature when singing the blues, and the other woman’s cut and dried scissors of a lizard, and I realised for the first time the co-assonance of ‘magician’ and ‘mathematician’…


    “The stranger had drawn her drawing.”

    Husbands can scream, too. Here is one husband desperately trying to form yellow wings. I am not sure whether it was intended I saw this story through the eyes of Henry, but I did. His wife who canoodled with the man (or angel*) with deep puce eyes, eyes she wanted to sink into after meeting him when he got his yellow wings caught in the screen door of her shed (a shed built for her to paint or draw in by Henry). This man with puce, if not chartreuse, eyes had appealing hands for her, too. Probably could draw a thing or two. And then, I found out that, having long abandoned Henry to the basement, the man with puce eyes caused her to dream of, arguably, Chappell’s Linnaeus sexual spasm of nature’s Swiftian plants that I read and reviewed about HERE a day or so ago when reaching this work in the VanderMeers’ Big Book of Modern Fantasy. My emotions about this Pflug story all seemed to fit together somehow, by synchronous preternature, if not by authorial intention – but I am not discounting the latter. Who drew or drowned whom, though?

    *See my review of the King in Yellow here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/the-king-in-yellow-a-real-time-review/


    “She was magic, mistress of synchronicity, of providential solutions…”

    She thus seems to enter my head when I endeavour to ‘gestalt real-time review’, to read a book as my form of diving, as well as of hawling… Pitiful, then, that you had to clean the street garbage out of Green Lady’s hair. This story resonates and resonates again. Your stoical dependence on your man who says art is therapy. But then it turns out to be a business deal selling other things. The act of ‘diving’ as a cross between papier-mâché sculptures of sea creatures and your then becoming those creatures as the real creatures themselves. Pinching the word Green from its other worthier meanings for such substance abuse, i.e. swimming in substance as if it is the sea. Stoical acceptance of your mother’s man feeling YOU up when she is out getting chickens from kfc that had been “bred with no heads”. Made me as reader feel as dirty as you feel dirty, lady. But then the story restarts to resonate — and I feel clean again, too. Despite the rotten smell. Some diseases don’t smell, thinking about it. I could oscillate on and on about this story. Even to the extent of twirling from the ceiling like a mock manta ray. Or a real crab on pink velvet. Or green. Even red?

  6. SEEDS

    “I have planted sunflowers in the yard. Their big heads turn, slowly, throughout the day.”

    Till one of this highly poetic vignette’s children grows quickly like a sunflower into the man whom she earlier expected to walk over the hill to their enclave or lockdown bubble, she older than the rest but soon herself able to rest. As light and stars co-percolate. At least their chickens were from parthenogenesis, but not bred without heads. A story powered by a windmill on its roof — without turning, even slowly, to north, south, west or east. And any question mark would have been superfluous.:- “Why we are here and not somewhere else.”


    “…sharing space with brush strokes done hundreds of years ago.”

    …as a sort of time travel, this story says. A series of paradoxical views of invisibility in others and self — mutually coded by inter communication on the internet or indeed by fiction itself or sharing the same space in real life, like being driven by the same taxi driver who was part of ‘Evenn the Mirror’ that I somehow in my older age now fail to grasp …. A story of Pflug Venn Diagram auras — as further versions of this book’s earlier muses: animals, or even fish or whatever swimming in your wake…? Some even wearing your jacket!

    “At first it was a coincidence. But the coincidence, after repeating itself so many times, like links in a chain, transmuted into pattern,…”

  8. Invisibility begets invisibility…


    “I couldn’t stop seeing you if I wanted. Now that I can, it’s not like I can put the ability back in its lock box…”

    This story seems to have evolved, presumably since it was written, into the archetypal co-vivid dream, those forever shutting doors in a concertina of lockdowns, recurring gulps of hindsight’s realisation of what you now know is possible, fairies, new existence of your mother, England’s River Ouse, Ouse, just one letter short of where you live now in perfect sweet invisibility … with Mort. Whether it be man or bear out to see your unself-conscious nudity, who now cares? This story has matured, beyond measure, to mean what you never meant it to mean, and only these times of ours today can create such miracles of the work itself always having known ab initio what it meant. Now purely naked in its own autonomous meaning. Leaving somewhere, time and time again, thus it ‘leaves’ again whatever the covidually multi-souled lock box of Ouse or house it happens to have been. Arguably.


    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 South 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, I hope. Books have their own dreams, too.


    “I forget what you look like; everyone becomes you.”

    This narrator has a kinship with Sandrine in the previous story, yet here there is more yearning for acceptance, via a poetry of alexandrines made into prose, than for striving against it. To follow the target ‘you’ here, even upon the fire bridge, teetering upon entering the fire itself so there can be no after-the-fire memory loss, obviating one lost ‘you’ with another ‘you’ who makes microscopic things, as writing makes even more microscopic than simply microscopic things in the guise of things you can never reach but are there nevertheless contained within invisible boxes that are words. Nothing can burn nothing, I guess. Read this story’s last paragraph and see for yourself. Words are approximations only. Upon a fire bridge between meaning and non-meaning. You and non-you. An alexandrine’s medial caesura.


    “This story connects to all the other stories.”

    I, Des, agree. A highly tantalising vignette in four numbered parts — of sucked secrets, ironing lace collars, the youness of identity, or do you live in a swollen creek, a yellow quilt like the earlier scarf or wings, Katherine Mansfield again apotheosised…


    “It’s a photograph of a lot full of gravel, raked around a pile of rocks.”

    The honest truth, when I was reading this story my random Spotify started playing So Long, Marianne sung by Leonard Cohen, and I thought of Ruby’s Little and Marianne, both relatively short relationships, I guess, two of her exes, in a story where she should have gone to Japan, at least, not worked as a government-paid prostitute with healing qualifications for cases given her, and Little, after Marianne, was a beautiful young man whom she got into the job, and a man who became hers, too; he seemed wise for his age, until he went, too, and I sense much going on with some of the blues resonances: blues music, blue sky, blue from no breaths left for your ventilator, and blueness for painting or graffiti. And blue stuff they took to heal their Jalloos as well as their Jealousies, as well as tripping on the truth with it, to see what they really were. Her father’s daughter by doing it for a man in her healing, hooking job when he wanted Ruby to act being his daughter. A work that I read quickly for its rapture of meaning. And it’s still got me wrapt up in it, teasing me out…monsters, too, out of my own clay shaping cases. Or teasing out whoever is moulding monsters as well as onanism with angels into gestalt. Everything begins here. Here is where it all ends.

    “‘Cause when you’re Blue you’re stuck, you never get to rise above it, where the real colours are.”


    “It’s always a tea party when you have a mouse along, even if you’re not wearing your mad hat.”

    While also grappling with a variation upon the Father-Daughter syndrome in the previous story, this is more an evolution of a character from first person singular narrator to simply ‘she’ and ‘her’, later to Tanya. And Jim starts off as ‘he’, both of them living upon pronounal Hawai’i. I sense, somehow, they both started off as aliens in a crater after a UFO crashed, but ended learning to be human beings through this evolution, with any backstory airbrushed gradually with a few things that stay in fragmentary memories, a power like a mouse he draws that comes alive and interacts, as if the mouse of any computer comes to control their story? And being able to scry a coconut. There were other AS IF moments. A character called Lulu, hono! Jalloo! And human weaknesses like Jim is now up in court for capital crimes to do with boating. She often actually feared that he might kill her. It is so difficult to be human, she often says to us in this work. But really, I feel, it is far too easy!

  14. The next story I reviewed here and below is what I said about it in that context:


    FIRES HALFWAY by Ursula Pflug

    “In Canada to be famous you have to be famous somewhere else first.”
    “Who wouldn’t take beautiful, exclusive, scary new drugs given to them by Lou Reed.”

    There is much beauty in this story, even, I guess, dolphins drowning in it. Colours as dosed endorphins and more. The story of Kim as created by the song of a would-be Lou Reed singer in still wall-split Berlin, a period glimpsed as Kim’s backstory that it was due to become after she then later fulfilled a Canadian career in fashion, while his fate was to be a Zeno’s Paradox diminuendo of a singing career. No, it is not the story of Kim created by a song, his song, but a song she helped create with him, to create herself — transcending any tarot findings or Sirian/Fortean events or passing troilisms of a nature sexual. But who knows what strands or connections she picked up from such a still evolving backstory to create the gestalt she is today? That’s the beauty of fiction. A Zeno’s Paradox (“And never get to zero”) of threads and colours and earworms, that can be twined any which way. God’s or the Devil’s. And which of them fires first.

    “I think maybe I have had enough of beauty for a while, you know.”
    “Beauty always pays a lower price, in all things.”


    “People on the street are afraid of me, giving me a wide berth.”

    Forgetting I am gamine-like, aged 23. A game like ‘Carnival’ and masks, and it is coincidental that our famous Notting Hill one has been cancelled TODAY and made Virtual by dint of Covid. Another dizzying amnesic woman story, one employed to deal with the eyes in dolls, and with the previous story’s troilism: self plus different self raping a male with a phantom limb, plus “dark incest”, even the mirror, or two sides of Plato’s Cave, trapped in the past with seventies Star Wars or the fifties of today’s aged bandaged legs, and not touching by machine-heads, a VR or AI entanglement, needing a mitten as prophecy of today’s co-video panic, “Kids get it from hugs and kisses”, “They never touch living flesh”, machines in orgasm, and this story delightfully gives me its own “vertiginous feeling”, even with being in the wrong neighbourhood of my soul! But Pflug as a fairy Godwaitress is even too far fetched for me. Snowflakes no longer Faking Life…

    “‘Sometimes,’ she says, ‘it’s better to forget.’”

  16. JUDY

    “…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 / legionnaires, the Tobacco Fiasco as archetypal or symbolic contagion, the whale deaths as well as the human ones. Judy’s documenting of theories about it, visuals and ideas. Strangely infected, too, in this book, by the previous story’s lack of social distance. There is a dog in ‘Judy’ called Hamilton as well as a beach, both mentioned in contiguity on page 199, with ‘Hamilton Beach’ as the sub-heading at the top of this right hand page, while ‘Judy’ is correctly the sub-heading at the top of both this story’s two other right-hand pages!

  17. 84E1AF50-CBA8-49F2-890D-A863FB078E87MYRTLE’S MARINA

    “, as though, now, you are in one of those dreams where everything is hyper-real. […] …cabin fever taking a wrong turn.”

    I reviewed this story under a different title here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/cassildas-song-editor-joe-pulver/#comment-6073, in that context, as follows….


    “Was he so prematurely aged, inside, to believe something only very old people believed otherwise?”
    A perfect Pflug, blending memories, regrets, and a sort of alternate world wish fulfilment, as Peter deals in his mind with a family lakeside property, its household objects, its commercial business, its clandestine affairs, its black stars or stones, its hoped-for children, one of such children, I wonder, to be that Messiah to be born, if not in reality, perhaps by means of a book…?
    “Maybe for Myrtle it hadn’t been the book but something else. The percolator parts, perhaps, or the tin spoons.”
    “Of course, there was one small snag in this offspring fantasy; you had to have a mother first.”
    “he’d briefly seen their future spread out before him, pretty and comforting as a star quilt.”
    “She wore silver dream catcher earrings,…”
    “Delusions could fall out each morning, come out in clumps in his comb. Marti had once said he looked cute balding, that he was lucky he had the right shape of skull for it.”
    There was a resonant ‘cuteness” to Mr Jefferson’s self-styled ‘ass’ in the previous story, a story that prefigured the book that threads this book’s fields we know. A book within a book found and all-blending.
    Here blending this author’s own ‘Memory Lapse At The Waterfront’ with the percolators, tins and other household objects of her story “Repair”.
    We all have to repair our lives at some stage, if not by death, by the conscious re-figuring of memories and the book found like a household object in a kitchen cupboard.


    I am prematurely aged, too.

    My real-time review of The King In Yellow by Robert W, Chambers: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/the-king-in-yellow-a-real-time-review/


    “Because it is only through the skin that these secrets can come. It is nothing you can read in a book, or, say, a seed catalogue.”

    …although this story does both those things through extreme prose-poesy and condensation of a whole novel of real AND fictional people into a ten page distillation by dream. A whole seed catalogue of someone running a seed shop and herbs and flowers as cures for curse, a Monsty in the nearby lake who works both ways in the best possible world of backstory and present, via porous genders and strict ones, too, a gender gestalt that lives and breathes as an escape clause living above complex truth of those we meet and rub along with and whatever they inherit, too. And the children we inherit, too. Making our weather. Wreaths as thresholds. Space shorts of Bi-Way on this book’s cover. Time with two selves. Body, as well as Mind. Seeds and Other Stories. Empathy. Monsty knows.

  19. Pingback: Yesterday’s photo… | THE DES LEWIS GESTALT REAL-TIME REVIEWS


    “She was sure of it now; just spending time with the poles had been a way of learning about them, as if by osmosis.”

    …as I have learnt to do with the stories in this book. Each a pole that comes down the river to me, complete with carvings. Putting them together as gestalt, who knows what I might build – as a structure or as the joined up carvings? A powerful story of Serena whose doctor husband leaves with their three daughters as soon as the poles started arriving. A man who helped her understand the workings of her body. The two sons Jake and Blake remained, and were collectively called the Akes, so when Harker arrived he was more an ark than an ake? He certainly carried plants instead of hair on his body, judging by more than just osmosis on my part. Neighbours came disguised to buy the poles. Joining a thought with the art of the poles made more than bent spoons. I am still dealing with what turned up devastatingly at the end of this work. Adding my thoughts and wishes to this still floating story as if I hope generally to heal even more than I can hawl. Clear the logjam.


    “…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&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.

  22. “Pigs have an angel.” – from ‘A Mexican Fairy Tale’, Leonora Carrington
    Quoted in a review of this story that I conducted this very afternoon HERE!



    This is, inter Alia, inter Alios, inter Alien, about many things, many people, many this, that, and you, particularly YOU, Alia, alias Sonia — and the narrator, meanwhile, is a man I gather who can father children, or a woman as “Mr Salmon Woman” who is taken over by her grandfather, a stone with a mouth opened in it. A story of secret knowledge, reincarnation, fish knives, trading fish, trading across boundaries, trade routes, trade roots, pig roots, cross-sections of time, witches, selves, even to the extent of sacrifice by immolation by fire, hence the left camp’s fire pit, a yellow fog, a yellow dream, pig pens, pig stars, pig angels (I now infer by today’s synchronicity) and a pig that this pen called Polaris. Black. Shiny. Irisless. But that was a horse for carrying trade? Flames, as well as, earlier in this book, wings, are yellow, I guess. Until they become that pig. Or that pit. That mouthy stone. Or kiln. The author’s mouthy stare. At whoever dares to scry her tales. At whatever old man.

  23. Pingback: “Pigs Have An Angel“ | THE DES LEWIS GESTALT REAL-TIME REVIEWS

  24. “Owls’ respiratory systems are similar to that of humans, the largest difference being that the lungs are much smaller and have nine air sacs in addition.” – from an Internet blog

    EA9830FD-75A0-47E3-A961-F0131EE3F22CBUS OWLS

    “Whatever made her think finishing the novel was important?”

    Just as Stella took to writing blogs upon all manner of subjects, and myself to writing blogs about books I am reading. A telling account of how no smoking rules (exterior rules as well as her own decision to stop smoking) affected her life, relationships with men &c., particularly when between a change of buses travelling home to Toronto. As to the owls, as you can see there are many — real, plastic, embroidered &c. But none of them, like bus drivers, invisible. I wonder what she used to smoke. And whether smoke stays in the lungs forever.

  25. Embroidery above is a sort of post-tatting tattoo, I guess…


    Here, not owls, but fireflies and butterflies, in this highly poetic vignette — that was written to avoid finishing that novel? A woman’s life of expectations for her two children, her almost turning a blind eye to quirks in their behaviour. To leave the nest or stay. Or should, I say ‘jar’, not ‘nest’. Each event in life’s audit trail more often a jar or jolt than a smooth transition of flight? On smoke-singed wings towards the stars. With seeded offspring as rocket or watermark for self.

    “So busy trying to find time to write…”

  26. Pingback: Des Lewis reviews Seeds and Other Stories - Ursula Pflug


    “Speaking to a real person was actually quite hard.”

    My reviews have always been conducted under the alternating shadow and torch of Wimsatt’s Intentional Fallacy. A mother daughter mother daughter dynasty, where free-spirited teenagers can bring joy and love and hope to old ones if the old ones like you tell them that this is within their ability to do, if they are attracted, too, to your spider-web traps, traps you set to catch any lost daughter, a “dream catcher”, too, as I should know, and this tree is one I photographed this morning before reading this story, and, here at the crossing-point of Siena and her missing daughter Noelle (stoned off or shredded to bits by villagers), Siena being a witch who sleeps under sticks and fallen logs (if not Serena’s poles) combined with igloos of styrofoam and she clears the community’s woods and river trails from waste, household tippings, the significance of the creek only becoming clear when the befriending or befriended teenagers point out to Siena someone’s feet – that could be Noelle’s feet. Alive or dead? I sense that this layered story accretively needs reading several times and so far I have read it only once (my strict ‘dreamcatcher’ reviewing rule has always been that real-time should be real-time the first time it happens!) but I have noted already some core passages (e.g. “Why always this bleak blackbadness, inconsolable beyond hope at the core, at the bottom, collecting at the fallen logs.”) that should help my future second reading of it. Any communal fickle memory and the honking, shape-shifting geese, notwithstanding. The “old old guns” of men, too. Siena and me, the old ‘you’ combined? The “poetry and painting and witching” transcending any Intentional Fallacy,

    “It was witchy magic, after all. It was supposed to work. Her mother had taught her that, taught her how clear intent poured into the creation of an object would amplify its power to heal.”


    “There’s a journal lying open on the table—I wonder whose it is? I am writing in it but haven’t read it yet.”

    That seems to be an apotheosis of Pflug. Or at least of that earlier ‘yellow notebook’ syndrome. Lost and found journals, lost and found people. Here all interconnected, man woman and woman daughter son, only affording one fire-log, and who harvests the namesake moon, and, oh, the simple, even infinite, joy through the act of barely surviving, thus a direct sister-story with the previous one above. And sometimes not knowing who YOU are. Nor even who I am myself. Loved it as a sort of poetic summation. The password to the booted-up book itself. Journals in the Internet clouds? Clouds that hide the fat orange moon?

    “Never reveal your true name.”


    A double ossignette, one inside the other, mother and daughter, their velvet shoes, the smoke of campfire, and fieldstone pit, a bread oven with a kiln’s mouth, whither the smoke of those clouds hiding the shooting of stars – and if the previous story was this book’s anarcic recapitulation and summation, this one is its symphonic coda as well as code, but all this book’s stories were once published separately before in differently named publications and different editors, except possibly “Unsichtbarkeit” and “Harker and Serena”, thus giving a religious hush at an expensive art book of words and no pictures, the exodus from Europe, blooming into familial or conjoined skeins, starting here with another notebook amid the wild apples. So if these stories were published separately before, how did they mend together here into this rich and rare book that I have found it to be? Almost as if there was originally no intent for such happenstance but now, in spite of my wayward path through it, any autonomous intentional doubt somehow creates both an emotional equivalent to oxymorons and the bolstering of pure certainty. In the previous story a happy rhododendron bush. Now “a cacophony of rhubarb”. And an endless euphony of you.

    “; premonition soaking through me like darkening twilight.”


  30. Pingback: Seeds and Other Stories - Ursula Pflug

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