Book Review: Motion Sickness by Ursula Pflug

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“Motion Sickness”
Written by Ursula Pflug
Illustrated by SK Dyment
Published by Inanna Publications

Motion Sickness is flash novel made up of 55 chapters of exactly 500 words each, with each chapter accompanied by a scratchboard illustration. It was published by the amazing independent feminist press Inanna Publications in 2014.

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I came across Motion Sickness at the expo hall at The 2015 National Women’s Studies Association Conference (read more about that here). I’m a fan of novels, of big books that engulf you in their magic. Motion Sickness is a small book, one that probably wouldn’t have caught my attention in the average bookstore. But, lucky for me, I wanted to look at all the books at NWSA. Even luckier for me, the editor-in-chief of Inanna, Luciana Ricciutelli was there and talked with me about the book!

We talked about flash fiction, which I’d never read, and the process of writing and editing it. We talked about feminist presses and feminist publishing, which was awesome because I was doing an independent study focusing on feminist publishing at the time! Luciana was more than wonderful to talk to. Needless to say, I was pretty pumped to read Motion Sickness. I bought it as a birthday present for my partner Alex but read it on the journey back to Indiana from Wisconson. Obviously.

The entire novel is magic. It’s a lovely mix of captivating imagery and complex characters. The flash fiction structure makes the novel feel like a poem or a dream or something a little bit more abstract than a usual novel. I felt the need to put more of myself into the novel as I read, to spend more time on each sentence. I took a train from Milwaukee to Chicago, stayed for too long in a loud terminal, then boarded the train for home. Even in the loud, hot trains and train stations I was totally absorbed in the novel. The brief breaks I took as I read Motion Sickness left me aching to continue. I didn’t use it as a lesson in patience. While Lauren, my travel partner, crammed in homework I finished the novel before we reached Indiana.

The story follows Penelope, a 20 year-old musician through a brief chapter of her life. As a 20something myself, I felt drawn to Penelope because her journey echos some of my own fears and experiences. I don’t want to give away many spoilers, so I’m going to keep this review lite on the storyline. I went into it without reading the back or hearing about the plot and I think it added to the experience.

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To conclude, read this book please and let’s talk about it. It’s stayed in my brain for months and has inspired me to write flash fiction of my own.

10/10 would totally recommend. It’s an awesome book, written by an badass women, and published by a rad af independent feminist press.

Best wishes,
Amanda

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