BOOK REVIEW: Palaces' "Folktales for the Diseased Individual"
Review by Shyla Jones
TW: mentions of suicide and mental illness.
“I was quite different, I was normal. Life was too leafy on my skin for me to ever kill myself, for example.”
Reminiscent of voices like Ottessa Moshfegh and Mona Awad, Palaces’ Folktales drags readers into its grasp with six relentlessly crude and tender pieces. If you enjoy fever dreams, nostalgia, girlhood, infatuation, the dissection of mental illness and trauma, then this chapbook is the one for you. With a release date set for September 2021, you won’t be able to shake the emotions that Folktales forcibly wrings from your body.
We begin with “They Are Very, Very Sick People,” a haunting recount of childhood obsession. When the narrator and her friend Patrick’s playground game becomes more and more sinister, we’re introduced to one of the most prevalent themes of the chapbook: desire. Desire to feel, to hurt, to love, to fix, to be and to not be.
“There are people out there who enjoy hurting themselves,” she’d explained. “They’re very, very sick people.”
Intercepted by screenshots of conversations past, the chapbook goes on to introduce us to different relationships that advance the themes that drip from each page. Palaces describes feminine attraction and desire like no other, relatable and hard to digest all the same. You may resonate with the narrator so deeply that it feels violating, but freeing, like meeting yourself fully after all this time. Palaces uses words so brutally, shaping them into her own memories as if they were created for these stories and these stories alone. Her metaphors are like ear worms, ever-present and agonizing, unable to shake off, as seen especially in “Cult Classic or Metaphors About Being Traumatized by an Acting Career” and “Home from School, Searching for the Man Who Will Kill Me.”
Immediately, I found myself aching to speak with my younger self in such a way, as if she was a part of the pages. Though my experiences are different entirely, the pieces in Folktales itched my insides just right enough to get me to read them like a mirror. With this collection, Palaces proves herself to be just as much of a creative non-fiction powerhouse as she is in fiction and poetry. Folktales for the Diseased Individual is a must-read for all lovers of risky and analytic writing that disturbs, feeds, and fulfills.
Be sure to get a copy come September 2021, and check Palaces' Twitter for news regarding the release and future endeavors!
Palaces is Editor-in-Chief of Wrongdoing Magazine. She is the author of EROTECAY (LUPERCALIA Press, 2021) and FOLKTALES FOR THE DISEASED INDIVIDUAL (2021) and has work featured in Eclectica Magazine, Juked Magazine, Gingerbread House Magazine, BlazeVOX, Maudlin House, and many others. She has also recently finished a short story collection and novel duology. She is a Staff Contributor for Hecate Magazine, The Aurora Journal, and The Jupiter Review, and she works as an Editor for a few other publications. She has a BAH from Queen’s University. You can read more about her at pascalepotvin.com or @pascalepalaces on Twitter.
Shyla Jones is a Black writer from Boston, MA. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly, Fractured Lit, Los Angeles Review, Four Way Review, and others. She is the Editor-in-Chief of superfroot magazine and graphic designer for Perennial Press. On top of collecting nostalgic toys and ranting, she’s also currently finishing her BFA and working on her first novel.