· Title : SNAIL
· Author : V. Ulea
· Illustrator: Irene Frenkel
· Publisher : Crossing Chaos Enigmatic Ink
· Publisher's address: http://www.crossingchaos.com/
· ISBN: 978-1-926617-06-0
· List Price : $17.60
· Date: 2009
· page count: 94
Everything about this marvelous little book is slightly askew, from the tale itself, to the telling, to the mesmerizingly eerie illustrations, to the white print on black paper… So where to begin?
On one end of the dreaming spectrum, for want of a better example, there is lucid dreaming—a state in which the dreamer is aware of the dream, controls it, keeps it from changing willy-nilly, and where, with enough focus and conviction, he can even influence the much denser realm below it we so quaintly call reality. On the other end of that same spectrum is the typical garbage dream: flotsam and jetsam haphazardly tossed about by one’s subconscious, a smorgasbord of anxiety, memory, desire, fear and anything else not likely to find its way into a Julia Child cookbook. But this is dreaming we’re discussing here by way of diversion, folks, so there are as many ends to the spectrum as you like and the one appropriate to Snail is that infinitely expansive thin layer just beyond the veil of sleep where one can linger seemingly forever—the place where dreams easily get obsessive/compulsive hammering home their frenetic messages in an assortment of clone overlays with the steady staccato of an MG42 light machinegun.
That is not to detract in any way from what we have here, but to suggest an approach to the material. The author, in an afterword, uses a variety of terms and references from modern physics to place her work within the category of “quantum genre,” which is as good a way as any of putting an imaginary grip on something without handles.
Snail is a collection of seven utterly surreal short fictions about a moderately dysfunctional family consisting of a grandmother, mother, father and son. But the tales themselves involve the nature of their life-long relationships as seen through a dark glass askew. It is, in fact, the telling that is more riveting than the stories themselves, for who can say what the stories really are about? Now and then one gets a glimpse of that alternate reality most of us cling to so desperately, but it is largely insignificant, a fleeting thing pertinent to a single moment only, whereas the relationships themselves once set in motion are as eternal as anything any of us are ever likely to cognize.
V. Ulea is ably aided and abetted by Irene Frenkel, whose own mother was surely traumatized at an early age by Marc Chagall and whose meticulously crafted images convey reality emerging from abstraction, populated by self-absorbed visages that more often than not reflect the unreality with which we perceive the world around us.
Read it, it's quite the trip.