Flashes from The Other World
by Julie Ann Weinstein
All Things That Matter Press
Awards: Finalist, 17th Annual San Diego Book Awards
the heart attack my Grandma lost her will to live. Then her mind
started to wander... The family called her
behavior 'crazy making'. The doctor called it Alzheimer’s. I
never called it a name. But for some reason I kept running past a
bumper sticker on an old van that made sense with what was going on.
It said, ‘some of us wander and get lost, others just wander.'
Reviewed by Daniela Norris
other-worldly presence seems to run like a scarlet thread through
this collection of short fiction which is a delight to read –
probably because the author delighted in writing it. Spirits of the
dead that connect to the spirits of the living in surreal yet
tangible ways attract the reader, as a veil of mist lifts and allows
us a glimpse, real or imaginary, into The Other World. This Other
World is not a pure creation of the author, but feels eerily
There is a blue bead that always appears on the base of the town
clock at certain times throughout the year. The locals don’t know
who leaves the bead, just what it heralds; a life lost to violence.
Would-be mothers kick at the beads, sending them to the gutter, down
the sewage lines, hoping if no one sees it a child will be spared.
Once I was such a mother. I wore my headscarf when others in my
neighborhood didn’t. Religion for most here in Istanbul is a
private matter, but I didn’t like my hair. The scarves in brilliant
shades of green and purple looked so very pretty. (from Blue
it is dreams that connect us to a world we recognize, if only for
those moments when the dream takes over and feels as if it is the one
place we truly live in.
This week I dreamed of flag poles, empty, dewy, singular poles.
Grandma says it’s a sex dream. But I’m still a virgin and I think
there’s more to it; there’s always more in these parts. The dream
last night even showed a pole with a white flag. Ah surrendering
images. It waved, it billowed, a bit inviting, almost a smile in the
sky. And the face in it, lest I forget that… never! A boy’s face
shown in the flag, if one can call it that.
dreams and reality are not mutually exclusive things, as we can see
in some of Weinstein’s haunting tales.
In the interlocking limbs of two eucalyptus trees I see your soul.
Can you know it’s me gazing at you from the window? Do you know I
dream how it feels to be joined in wood, not flesh? I see elephant
tusks and the flesh of paper in your limbs. My boyfriend calls and
says 'I must stop my staring’. It’s dreaming, I say. Our limbs
don’t join as mirrors like yours. Can we wait 'til we grow this
close? How long did it take your right limb to match your left? Oh…
you say it was a lifetime, that’s too long.
a lifetime is not too long if you are a spirit coming back, like in
The Vacant Tub.
The ghost of past baths sat soaking up rays on the front lawn.
Suds of yesteryear dripped off the porcelain surface of the tub. A
bird chirped. Its bidding, its call, a young boy heard. He sat in the
tub and raced a sailboat. A swell tipped the boy over, then moments
later the boat stood upright and the boy pushed it along. Fine lines
appeared on the base of the tub. A man emerged from the house and
turned the bath over on its side. But the boy and the sailboat didn’t
fall. They didn’t fall. They continued sailing the boat. The man
ran his hands over the bottom of the tub. 'those scratches… they
weren’t there yesterday. I know they weren’t there. I cleaned the
tub myself’. A little boy laughed as the man dumped bleach into the
tub and scrubbed with a yellow sponge.
of these tales make sense in a magical sort of way. Others make the
reader reflect and open their eyes – all three of them – to the
sounds and smells around them. To the Other World. Read with an open
mind, and you shall be rewarded.