|Kristine Ong Muslim||
WE BURY THE LANDSCAPE
Queen's Ferry Press, April 2012
Cover art by Siobhan McCusker
Edited by Erin McKnight
168 pages, 5.25" x 8"
Plano, Texas, USA
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LINKS to all the artworks that inspired the book
Research Notes for We Bury the Landscape
Kristine Ong Muslim cultivates brilliance in her micro-fiction collection, We Bury the Landscape. Each of these mystical stories, inspired by a specific painting, have transformed into mesmerizing paintings themselves. Muslim delivers us into her own breathtaking museum with the extraordinary shifting shadows and light of dawn or dusk filtering into every piece–layer upon layer of thickly sculpted colors in language.
—Meg Tuite, author of Domestic Apparition
We Bury the Landscape is a dynamic compilation of snapshot tales, each of which encompasses its own sensory-rich world and can be read in a few minutes or pondered for days. What's beautiful about the presentation here is that the collection is wholly nourishing and consumable in small intense bites that intermingle on the palate and work together to fill the most intense literary craving.
—Jen Knox, author of Musical Chairs and To Begin Again
Kristine Ong Muslim is that rare combination of playful imagination and gift for language. The depth of these gems, short as most are, astounds the reader. Yet there is also much humor, often in the face of despair. We Bury the Landscape is a book that you'll want to read again and again. Muslim is a writer you'll never forget.
—James Valvis, author of How to Say Goodbye
We Bury the Landscape is an appropriate title for Kristine Ong Muslim's collection -- the prose poems feel revealed. She has carefully hidden each poem for the reader to unearth: a treasure, startling and gorgeous.
—Valerie Loveland, author of Reanimated, Somehow
Kristine Ong Muslim, with her collection of short-short stories and prose poems, comes to the table with something wholly new and fascinating. When reading each of the individual pieces, a whole begins to emerge, a complete tapestry of haunting, surrealist imagery, which is much larger than one initially suspects. One moment you are reading about a woman trying to create a visual landscape of her own, strange creatures, or the man who sleeps with his eyes open, and the next, almost before you realize it, you are side by side with the man inside what I can only hope is a perpetual dream. And all of this makes sense because you have already been drawn into the universe where both the literal and surreal have equal sway with the governing laws of existence. Muslim is able to produce an entire world in these stories/poems and here, as it has been my experience with Muslim’s work in the past, her language is precise. Further, her use of imagery is marvelous in the best sense of the word and never is something expected or worn. Each story and poem is ekphrastic, based upon a painting, successfully pushing each written work to literally bridge the gap between the world and the visual landscape the narrator is trying to create.
—Justin Evans, author of Town for the Trees and editor of Hobble Creek Review
Reading We Bury the Landscape by the intimidatingly prolific Kristine Ong Muslim is like ingesting some bioluminescent lozenge & descending a lopsided staircase that shifts & breathes increasingly with each step. It’s a precarious, hypnotic dance into the subliminal. Metamorphosis without metaphor. These ekphrastic prose poems are inhabited by a fairytale cast of elegantly macabre creatures: giant worms, plastic rabbits, murderous gryphons, carnivorous sunflowers, rubber Rapunzels, jars of aborted children, currency stashed in punctured skulls, honey seeping from severed wrists. There’s an almost casual acceptance of the onion-like levels of inhabiting that we become witness to: dreams trapped within minds, minds within decaying bodies, bodies within crumbling dreamscapes. At heart, these are off-kilter snapshots of impermanence & the private godless apocalypse that’s certain for us all. As we begin our descent, please keep your arms & legs inside the ride at all times.
—Scott Alexander Jones, author of One Day There Will Be Nothing to Show That We Were Ever Here
We Bury the Landscape is a collection of ekphrastic vignettes set against surreal backdrops fraught with eerie characters faking normalcy. Kristine Ong Muslim's visceral prose poems "slash the air with the precision of a matador's sword striking bone" -- no reader can plunge into her multiverse without kissing their comfort zone goodbye.
—Arlene Ang, author of Seeing Birds in Church is a Kind of Adieu
Like some of the artists whose work inspired this collection, Kristine Ong Muslim is herself a masterful creator not only of landscapes or portraits, but of parallel worlds complete with a surrealist, yet also strangely tangible, cast. The author expertly moves between reality and could-have-beens, nightmares and dreams. She slips inside the painter's skin, then confidently sheds it, in possession of an entirely different truth. We Bury the Landscape is "a barrel full of jack-in-the-box surprises", sketches aimed at head, heart and gut.
—Michaela A. Gabriel, author of the secret meanings of greek letters
After reading We Bury the Landscape, an ekphrastic flash fiction/prose poem collection by Kristine Ong Muslim, I’m convinced that voice is everything, and the voice in this book is both compelling and strong, unifying all the disparate, wonderful scenes. The writing is sure, a surrealist manifesto. Instead of simply reflecting the art, Muslim’s pen leads the reader through extraordinary worlds, created by such singular artists as Joan Miró, Julie Heffernan, Peter Marcek, René Magritte, Jean-Marie Poumeyrol, among so many. In “House and Men,” a work after Wind by Vladimir Kush, the Russian painter, Muslim writes, “we are all versions of staircases seen at various angles,” a passage that gets at the brain of this stunning collection – giving life and breath to image. And she does that page after page.
—Sam Rasnake, author of Inside a Broken Clock and editor of Blue Fifth Review
Reading Kristine Ong Muslim's work is like participating in an archeological dig. It is the landscape that draws us first, an unusual depression, that strange swirl of vegetation, a sudden loamy softness in rocky terrain. And so we dig, trowel by trowel, micro-story by micro-story. We lose ourselves in the task of un-burying a bone fragment here, an artifact there. Posthumanism gives way to re-humanism. The inanimate breathes deep. Only when we have finished do we fully realize the skeleton we have unearthed is our own, reaching from the grave to touch our flush, to feel the warmth we cast off so casually in our everyday lives. As entertaining as it is deep, We Bury the Landscape shines as an example of the flexible power of the micro-form fiction.
—Stephen V. Ramey, editor of the Triangulation Anthologies