Hedge Apple by Ronald R. Van Stockum, Jr.
Art by Steven P. Eilers
“‘But how do I get in?’ the narrator asks himself, just as Alice did before she followed the White Rabbit. In a similar land of magical realism, Ronald R. Van Stockum, Jr. sets up an escaped in ‘a long thicket of trees separating two sloping farm fields.’ We hike with Tony beyond a fallen fence with twists of old barbed wire wrapping into the tree bark of the forest perimeter. Encountering ‘Buddha-like’ images, muscular snakes that grasp at his clothing, and rotting fruits from Hedge Apple trees, Tony ventures further into the unknown forest. The author, a biologist, environmentalist, musician, and historian, takes us into his philosophical world of surreal science. His adventurous narrator realizes that adulthood does not necessarily end the wonder of youth. If the reader wants an uplifting view of an emotional landscape, or a straight-up scientific thriller where the hero is chased by towering, glowering, gigantic monsters, it’s all her in this fabulous tale. Like Walt Whitman poetry, the language is rich in meaning, allusion, alliteration, and a sly humor. Lovely and memorable.” -Mary Popham
Mary Popham’s book reviews have appeared in the Courier-Journal, The Louisville Review, and other venues. Her short story collection is entitled Love is a Fireplace, and her novel, Back Home in Landing Run.