Worlds alien and familiar, HOLD STILL FAST by Sean Pravica and THE ROAD NOT TAKEN by Susan Rubin,
Getting Older Again
As a strange joke, she bought her friend a human skull for a birthday gift. She also gave her makeup,to be nice. When her friend opened her gifts, the next step was obvious. She had little makeup left by the end of it, and the skull had a name.
The balloon floated away from her. He lifted her as she cried. She reached her hand up, as though she was close enough to grab it now. He rocked her, said to enjoy watching it, a red dot disappearing. Suddenly, it was like that was its purpose all along.
She started a dance church in the woods. She used an unoccupied store for service every Sunday. Devotees twisted, leapt, gyrated to whatever music played. Songs that opened or closed with rain sounds were prominent. It became obvious. It became truth. God is motion. Every moment the big bang.
Planes of hot, white light cascaded down from little conical fixtures evenly spaced throughout thegallery. Illuminated abstractions, zealous color, geometric landscapes floating in space.She looked at another squiggled line, saying, “Imagine an alien anthropologist trying to decipher the human experience through something like this?” He kissed her cheek.
\THE ROAD NOT TAKEN by Susan Rubin, a rollicking epic adventure on the time-space continuum, is both funny and a surprisingly deep exploration of human life on Earth, the sex lives of the Gods, the viability of human life on the planet, and whether the Bloomingdale's free gift with make-up purchase is a good deal. These existential issues are visited by an unnamed former housewife whose quest begins with her identity and ends with an iconic purpose for humankind.
This sensual and wise epic did remind me of Candide, Voltaire's satire on the Enlightenment, a goodhearted innocent who travels the world seeking security and his true love. His guide,Pangloss, holds the optimistic belief that we live in the best of all possible worlds. Though the pair endure every possible misfortune; slavery, torture, disease and dismemberment, Pangloss never loses his faith. Candide is more influenced by events.
Susan Rubin's former Ct.housewife, an "innocent" who never challenged herself, returns to her childhood environs in Greenwich Village after her husband's untimely death. Her adventure starts at Bloomingdale's make-up counter, where she encounters an identical twin, who offers a tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, featuring a portal to Ancient Egypt and Van Gogh's Arles.
On further jaunts on the time space continuum, she is challenged to become the epic warrior, judge, priestess, Deborah. In The Road Not Taken, Deb faces obstacles that test her fitness in a Weimar nightclub and her weakness with help from a "bad boy" lover of an immortal race.
Unlike Candide, as the heroine deepens so do her challenges, until she becomes the priestess. As a female epic heroine, this Deborah beats even Gail Gadot's Wonder Woman. She can fight for justice but likes a good time in bed and fine red wine. Scholar, thinker and seeker of wisdom, the heroine in THE ROAD NOT TAKEN is her own Pangloss; inhabiting the best of all possible worlds. Published by Harvard Square Editions, https://harvardsquareeditions.org
Recommended for a spare night with favorite beverage