I purchased a copy of this book from the publisher.
This reviewer was already a fan of Roppotucha Greenberg’s work (read a review of Creatures Set Forth here), and this book reinforces that position. Zglevians On The Move takes Greenberg’s whimsical writing style and adds layers, undercurrents, and other elements that take this unusual style to another level.
Part flash collection, part novella-in-flash, the premise of the book is that after a time-warp weapon destroys their home, the Zglevians find themselves spread out across space and time. They move in different directions both forward and backward, clinging to the memories of their history and future. From the very first story it is clear these characters are extremely different:
‘Don’t unsweet me. I verb because I’m longed out with years, distances, things’ befuzzlement and the one way-ness of matter.’
‘Matter is a verb.’
‘Good. Because, double-ear me wellsome: you matter, very much.’
Immediately, the undertone of frustration, intimacy and longing becomes clear. Zglevians yearn to understand each other and the places and times they encounter. They want desperately to fit in, to belong, and to be together again. Greenberg writes the strangeness of foreign places with a beautiful intensity, with gentle nods to the post-colonial and the migrant experience.
…we have to, for as long as this house, re-mortgaged, leaking, built on a land taken from other people in an unjust war, stands here, at the edge of the woods, smack in the middle of the path to the dead country.
The dreaminess in Roppotucha’s previous work is still present, despite the sometimes darker undercurrents.
Across the road, all is quiet, all streaming upwards, the trees, their branches, our laughter, all running up and up, and the leaves are falling, and we fall into the piles and roll about.
She uses these moments, juxtaposed against the Zglevians’ other current realities, to capture a sense of regretful reminiscence. Through each story there is a thread of the self, and how the transition through time and space changes each person’s constructed identities. The emphasis is often not on the present moment, but on the shifts between moments, and how in those undefined spaces character can evolve, respond, disintegrate and re-conceptualise. Experiences change people, and Greenberg dives deep into the mechanics of those changes – their process, not just their results.
Zglevians On The Move is a melodic journey through memory and history, the non-linear nature of identity, and the constant evolution of the self. Roppotucha Greenberg brings her distinctive and enjoyable language to these tales of displacement, and the result is rich and delicately balanced writing which will leave a slight ache. You will see your world, and your place in it, with fresh eyes.
Zglevians On The Move is available now from TwistIt Press.