Music by Ursula Pflug
Tesseract, Hardcover ISBN 1895836778; Trade ISBN 1895836751 October 2002
Review by Asta Sinusas
232 pages List price $28.95 ; $16.95
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Once upon a time, a turtle named Jack came upon a deserted beach. Then a man named Steve came. The man changed into a turtle, as the turtle changed into a man and they talked and shared a bottle of Jack Daniels under the night sky. In the morning, they switched back, and as Jack slipped into the sea, Steve called out to him to return in a year's time. Jack never did return, but Steve did, and soon other people came and stayed. After years passed, Steve finally decides to call the growing village Marina. On the same day Steve's grandchild was born, the turtles come - all but Jack - pairing up with the villagers and switching forms. However, as time passes, the magic disappears and the turtles stop coming to Marina.
Marina is a bit of a vagabond, but often sleeps at her friend Susan's place. Then one night, Susan has a dream of a place named Marina, a dream so vivid, she feels as if she's really there, speaking to a man named Stiv. She begins to recreate that place on her canvas. Marina, however, can't reach that place called Marina by dreaming, and part of her frustration and emptiness is in her search. After going out with so many men, finally Marina meets her match in Danny, but soon after she disappears. As Susan grows frantic when she can't find her friend, Danny and she find each other, just as Marina finally finds the place called Marina, and the magic returns.
The power and effect of the surrealism in Green Music is difficult to articulate. How do you explain taking a correspondence course with the moon about photography? Holding a conversation with a turtle over a bottle of whiskey? Having faith in a magical place called Marina that seems more real than reality? As you read Green Music, all of these questions that seem so strange when they are lifted out of context, flow together with grace. Pflug does a wonderful job of exploring the concept that everyone has a twin somewhere, whether turtle or human. The achievement of a twosome, through meeting to friendship and affection to loss, makes the novel a wonderful and poignant love story, told over again and again in the different relationships that exist between the characters. In particular, the friendship and conversations between Marina and Susan are wonderful and something you don't see too often in a novel. They seem like the type of gals you could hang with, except for the invisible turtles sometimes joining in the conversation. Without any more confusion, Pflug's debut novel is a wonderful, magical, delight you just have to experience for yourself. It would be difficult to imagine that Green Music won't win the acclaim it so richly deserves for the creation of a story so exotically original.