The Furious Gazelle

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Book Review: The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

Review by Tess Tabak

Peng Shepherd’s Book of M is a tour de force, a grim-yet-hopeful speculative fiction novel with many parallels for the current coronavirus pandemic. The characters in the book grapple with their own mysterious pandemic: a wave of people throughout the globe suddenly begin losing their shadows, and no one understands why. With the loss of a shadow inevitably comes total memory loss.

 

The book covers vast material in its 485 pages – the book takes place over the course of about two years – but it centers on a relatively small cast of characters. The central figures include a couple, Max and Ory, who have been living in hiding together at a resort since the start of the pandemic. There is also an amnesiac, who suffered complete retrograde amnesia shortly before the pandemic struck, and who may be key to finding a cure.

 

More than just losing their memory, something far stranger happens to the victims of the Forgetting. They become imbued with magical powers. If they forget something, whatever they imagine in its place becomes reality. A wife who forgets her husband may cause him to disappear, for example. Shepherd deliberately keeps the scope of the supernatural powers vague throughout the course of the book. While there is some amount of internal logic, the “rules” of the magic is not the focus here. Rather we’re intimately following the aftermath for our characters, the pain and emotional anguish of watching their loved ones forget who they are, or knowing that you’re being stripped of everything that makes you who you are. Continue reading

Poetry by David L. Paxton

Amalgamation 

 

Brain rocked dry spell,

this green fist

recovering, finger

joints swelled

 

plush flesh and hair

overly

mortared

 

with supposed despair

negative words

followed by shakes, caught

 

sitting through night

until red daybreak

catches itself up

and yellows to work.

 

Rain hangs

misting silent live oaks,

leaves dropping on trucks

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Shaving Dad by Aaron M.P. Jackson

Aaron M.P. Jackson is the former Poet Laureate of Jersey City, NJ, he has twice been a recipient of grants from the Puffin Foundation. His writing often reflects his dual heritage, with a focus on themes of love, urban existence and all things dog. For more information please visit middlepoet.com.

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Poetry by Howie Good

Two new pieces by Howie Good. “Come Evening” and “Press Enter to Continue.”

Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection The Middle of Nowhere (Olivia Eden Publishing). His latest chapbooks are Echo’s Bones and Danger Falling Debris (Red Bird Chapbooks). He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely.

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