Literature

Book Review – WE BURY THE LANDSCAPE by Kristine Ong Muslim

We Bury The Landscape by Kristine Ong MuslimWe Bury The Landscape Synopsis

We Bury the Landscape is an exhibition of literary art. Ekphrasis, collected. One hundred flash fictions and prose poems presented to view. From the visual to the textual, transmuting before the gallery-goer’s gaze, the shifting contours of curator Kristine Ong Muslim’s surreal panorama delineate the unconventional, the unexpected, and the unnatural. Traversing this visionary vista’s panoply of “rooms of unfinished lives,” the reader unearths and examines and reanimates-revealing the transcendent uncanniness that subsists underfoot. (Amazon)

BOOK REVIEW

I love art but in my busy life find nowhere near enough time to spend appreciating it, so when I was offered a copy of We Bury The Landscape for review I was immediately interested.

Firstly it is important to understand that the works of art that inspired each of the 100 separate works of flash fiction in this collection are not provided within the book. Fortunately however, separate links to images available on the web of each of the artworks are provided at the author’s website.

I found reading this title on my iPad with the webpage containing the links to the artworks open at the same time, the best way to go. I wanted to see the piece of artwork first, consider my reaction to it, and then read Kristine’s interpretation. This was a slow process but a rewarding one.

The fictional pieces range from very small philosophical thought segments with the artwork as a catalyst through to short stories that partner well with the artwork. In some instances the prose merely describes what is shown in the painting or what the artist may have been seeking to represent in their work.

In We Bury The Landscape Kristine Ong Muslim’s writing is often sparse but vivid, evocative and thought-provoking.

   Abandoned Dwellings by Vladimir Kush
Abandoned Dwellings by Vladimir Kush

And if we have said something in the past, then we have said nothing at all. So trudging along we bury the landscape underfoot. We move from one shell to the next, leaving by the side of the road a litter of colourful husks. We travel light, and everywhere we go, there’s an entire universe of abandoned dwellings. (Excerpt from ‘Abandoned Dwellings’)

This book has introduced me to the work of some wonderful artists (including photography) that I would not have otherwise come across, such as the bright and bold surrealist artwork of Mike Worrall, McReynolds and Vladimir Kush and the more sinister pieces from Redon. In particular it was an absolute pleasure to be introduced to the gorgeous artwork of Julie Heffernan.

Julie Heffernan Self Portrait as Broken Home 969 45   Julie Heffernan Study for Self Portrait as World 952 45  Heffernan selfportraitwithfieryskirt med   Heffernan1 1

Some of the flash fiction pieces were more compelling than others, but in the main the fiction companions to the artwork did help elicit more from the pieces than I would otherwise have seen or absorbed.

We Bury The Landscape by Kristine Ong Muslim is a title I would recommend to those with an appreciation for art and in particular the more surreal genre. If you appreciate Salvador Dali’s pieces (some of them are actually featured) then you should enjoy this collection of flash fiction.

BOOK RATING: The Story 3.5 / 5 ; The Writing  4 / 5

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BOOK DETAILS: We Bury The Landscape (Amazon); We Bury The Landscape (B&N)

Genre: Literature

Author Information: Kristine Ong Muslim is the author of We Bury the Landscape (Queen’s Ferry Press), Grim Series (Popcorn Press, 2012), and several chapbooks. The South Million Writers Award Notable Stories of 2011 and the Wigleaf Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions 2012 (selected by Dan Chaon) included her tiny tales. She has garnered multiple nominations for the Pushcart Prize, Dzanc Books’ Best of the Web 2011, and the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s Dwarf Stars Award and Rhysling Award. Her short fiction and poetry has appeared in over 500 publications, the likes of Boston Review, Narrative Magazine, Southword, plus hundreds of genre venues, from Abyss & Apex to One Buck Horror.

– Checkout Kristine Ong Muslim’s website

A selection of other reviews of We Bury The Landscape: Gloom Cupboard ; Necessary Fiction ; Neon Literary Magazine ; A Bookish Affair

* My receiving a copy of this book free from the author for review purposes did not influence the opinions expressed in my review.