Review of Pel Alford Pursell’s A Girl Goes Into the Forest.
In the dream I was sitting with my mother in a restaurant lobby, waiting to be seated for dinner. The hostess came over, asked me my name, which I confirmed, then told me to follow her — I had a phone call. At the hostessing station, I took the black phone with the cord and on the other end of the line was my sister’s voice: tremulous, distraught. She told me she was lost, could I come get her? I asked her where she had gotten lost. She said she couldn’t remember, and when I asked her what was around her right now, what did she see, she told me that she saw trees. Lots and lots of tall trees. She said she was in a forest and she was beginning to panic because someone had told her that if she was there after it got dark it was going to be really hard to find her way out. And it was starting to get dark. She begged me to find her before it was too late, and then the line went dead. When I awoke from the dream, I understood that my sister, who in this reality had been mired in the living hell of drug addiction, had been calling out to me from the forest in which she found herself, her soul-being, lost and desperate, without a single bread crumb to orient her movement and recovery.
This, the unmappable forest, a vegetative X-ray detailing the hinterlands of one’s interior, belongs to a place outside of time. This is where Dante eternally carves Beatrice’s name into granite bark with a bloodied fingernail; where Red Riding Hood, remixed in a narcoleptic loop, repeatedly falls asleep on a bed of pine needles and dreams of axes. This is also the limnal territory which Peg Alford Pursell stalks in her new book: A Girl Goes Into the Forest.
Originally from Brooklyn, NY, writer, poet, spoken word performer, and playwright, John Biscello now lives in Taos, New Mexico. He is the author of three novels: Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale, Raking the Dust, and Nocturne Variations, and a collection of stories, Freeze Tag.
His fiction and poetry has appeared in: Art Times, nthposition, The Wanderlust Review, Ophelia Street, Caper, Polyphony, Dilate, Militant Roger, Chokecherries, Farmhouse, BENT, The 555 Collective, Instigator, Brass Sopaipilla, The Iconoclast, Adobe Walls, Kansas City Voices, and the Tishman Review. His blog--Notes of an Urban Stray--can be read at johnbiscello.blogspot.com. Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale was named Underground Book Reviews 2014 Book of the Year.