Read Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land by Ruthanna Emrys Online


Tikanu, land of laws and patterns, magic and wild mint, is not found behind hidden doors. It passes across borders and takes root wherever its people settle. This collection of seven commentaries reveals a world waiting patiently at the edges of vision, that welcomes all who are willing to do the work of building it....

Title : Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781466874596
Format Type : ebook
Number of Pages : 32 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land Reviews

  • Carol.
    2019-03-03 10:12

    Nice. Judging by the comments, I think some of the cultural allusions eluded me. Love the plant/garden connection, and balconies as "private scraps of outside air."

  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
    2019-03-04 04:38

    I've always wanted to open a wardrobe and find a portal to a hidden magical land. This Tor short story is the next best thing. The magical land of Tikanu is best accessed through wild mint. You may find "books of lore in odd corners of the library, bright purple toadstools in the woods, symbols scribed delicately in spiderwebs." Rebel spirits called lillim may sicken your child by stealing life from it, but the gnarled wood golems who work in the Tikanu library are willing to offer advice and help. I loved the whimsical, fantastical details of this magical land that lies so near to ours. There's not much of a plot here, and at times it comes across a bit kumbaya, with Jews and Moslems, traditional families and gays, "ants and golems, spirits and small winged things" all feasting together, but it's a heartwarming and lovely tale.4.5 stars. This is free online at Thanks to my friend Jana for finding this story! She wrote a brief one-line review here on Goodreads but her longer review here at really captures this tale beautifully.

  • Miriam
    2019-03-05 09:17

    When she was thirteen, she took a summer internship in the library. On her third day, she and three other interns became lost in the stacks. They wandered among forests of shelves and pools of ink. They found there strange creatures, born as descriptions in the cryptozoology section, who had taken on tenuous life from the golems’ exhalations. Judy’s daughter was able to draw on her mother’s lessons to create patterns that would let the creatures inhabit the library freely, without leeching from the books. And together they slew the chimera that, given such life, threatened them all.When the interns returned, they found...Please tell me you are writing this story at greater length, Ms. Emrys.And maybe also one to let us know what happened with the dolphins.

  • Jen
    2019-03-07 09:39

    Very gentle and magical. Other reviewers hit it on the head. This needs to be much longer. Please? :D

  • Sarah
    2019-03-19 05:35

    A short fantastical look at how a culture grows and evolves, with a fantastical twist. I loved it.

  • Fiona
    2019-03-09 10:12

    Tikanu is a land that creates itself, patchwork-style, in the back yards and balconies of its inhabitants all over Earth. This reminded me a lot of Every Heart a Doorway, though this came first - and EHAD tends more to the cautionary tale side of fairy tales. This, though, was a whimsical and enchanting delight, without the need to display such caution. The Feast of Doors for example - fantastic!Find it here:

  • Elliot Cooper
    2019-03-24 11:30

    Beautiful and moving. And the storyteller narrative style is perfect for the pacing and gently wrought but vibrant imagery. My heart: "The snake stayed by her always, but told her many times that neither of them could ever be truly at home in Tikanu. She believed it, and yet she had never felt more at home elsewhere."

  • Jana
    2019-03-02 05:30

    Masterful, heartbreaking, and lovely.

  • Shira Glassman
    2019-02-24 09:21

    These are tiny, linked vignettes envisioning diaspora Judaism (never identified outright, but obvious through allusions to Friday nights being sacred, and horseradish and unleavened bread being part of the same festival, etc.) as a magical place almost like a portable Narnia that diaspora Jews carry around with us in flowerpots full of mint and by looking at the moon. So of course I am all about that."the blue and silver wings that embraced the house on Friday nights." Shabbat has a lot of resonance for me, personally, so I love seeing it described in these ethereal, ecstatic tones."Miriam baked bread on Saturday—the best rest she knew" We're all different and I love the recognition that for some of us, 'doing' might grant us more rejuvenation than the traditional Shabbat of not-doing. My Reform identity is strong :PWe visit the characters during significant moments of their lives, exploring topics like Jewish-Muslim bonds in a city where both feel like outsiders, a young woman learning about faith (or possibly converting) because her on-and-off girlfriend showed her the beauty of our world, and a mother protecting her child from disease not only with traditional emblems but with talismans personally relevant to her.Anyway: short. Free. Jewish fantasy. Faith-positive SFF. Have at!

  • Daniel
    2019-03-05 08:25

    Another lovely story by Ruthanna Emrys, this one jumping off of secret portal stories. On her personal blog, RE says that she was inspired by attempting to figure out what a Jewish Narnia would look like; there's also a pretty obvious Zelazny reference in there too. RE's interest in traditions and what they mean to us (even the tradition of worshiping Cthulhu, as in "Litany of Earth") is something that really resonates with me.

  • Meira (readingbooksinisrael)
    2019-03-20 09:36

    My favorite thing about this story was how many different Jews were in it. Religious, sort-of-religious, not religious at all. Ashkanazi and Mizrachi (from the reviews some people saw what I see as a MENA Jewish family as a Muslim family. That's fine, it's up to interpretation). And all of them were welcomed into Tikanu. And, yes, non-Jews, like Amber, are allowed in too.I liked how the story surrounded Pesach. It is our holiday of escaping from slavery and opression and one of the first things we say is: "Everyone who is hungry-they should come eat; everyone who is needy-they should come and join our feast". I always thought that was one of the most beautiful things in any Jewish holiday and this story really kept to that theme.Also, I loved all the references. Horseradish and oranges and flatbread. The Leviathan and the full moon. How every commentary is a quote from the Tanakh or the Hagada (and how they are called 'commentaries'). And so many more. I think I have to go back and read it again because I'm sure I didn't catch them all.I liked how things changed. How when the Seal of Solomon didn't work Judy used the Fibonacci sequence and the Mandelbrot set. How Miriam had to move from her ocean to a tiny apartment in the city. But how things always stayed the same-how mint followed them everywhere, how everyone who is hungry can always come and eat.I liked the parts with Amber and the snake.And now that I've finished waxing poetic over this I can complain about the things I didn't like. All in all for me it was just sort of too vague. I don't like vague stuff. Obviously, that's subjective, but I wanted things to be at least a bit less vague, more clear-cut. Especially the ending stuff with Lily travelling throughout the worlds.

  • Alice Lemon
    2019-03-14 08:14

    Ruthanna Emrys' vision of a Jewish Narnia not as a separate place one reaches through a portal, but as one that exists in patches throughout the world, wherever people plant it in their gardens, is certainly interesting. I imagine that the story is less personally meaningful to me than it would be to someone who identifies with its Jewishness, but I still found the concept deeply appealing even as the land of Tikanu felt a bit foreign to me.I was first attracted to Emrys' writing due to the appeal I felt in the Deep One / Aeonist spirituality she describes in The Litany of Earth and Winter Tide. That, like what is presented in Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land, is a religion of books and magic, and one that is presented to us as a diaspora society. Books, I certainly feel the sacredness of, and I'm not blind to the appeal of magic, even though it feels a bit sacrilegious to me. But it is hard to make sense of how diaspora communities really relate to me: as much as I do tend to feel and see myself as an outsider, I rarely get any hint that I'm really a part of something larger, if spread-out, rather than simply an odd and slightly mad individual.In any case, this is something I certainly need to think on more, as I try to figure out what I am and where I'm from.

  • Kylie
    2019-03-03 03:23

    I enjoyed this series of connected vignettes, the underlying theme of Jewish diaspora underlined the magical realism of the story without needing to be explicitly discussed. I loved the author's dreamy watercolor writing that fit the subject perfectly. This is a story that I will end up recommending to just about everyone even if it's not their usual thing because it's a big payoff for such a small time investment. Quote: "The laws of Tikanu may be added to, but never lost. So it is that holidays grow, like mint, from the new crises of each season."Diversity highlights- Jewish characters/setting, LGBTQ+ character

  • Amy Mills
    2019-03-27 04:30

    Enjoyable little pastiche. I feel like it's about the connections that grow between people, regardless of genetics or country or whatnot.

  • egelantier
    2019-03-07 03:21

    beautifully simple short story (you can read it for free online, the link is in the summary) about a (unnamed in text, but obviously jewish) diaspora carrying their hidden and magical homeland with them in the mint growing in their gardens of balcony flowerpots. melancholy, sharp, gorgeous, full of hope.Even in the city, Miriam could always see the moon from her balcony. It rose and set in its proper courses—no magic in that—but clouds broke apart as it passed between apartment buildings, the city’s harsh brightness faded, and for a few precious minutes silver light poured down. Sometimes, on Friday evenings, she found it draped with aurora, green and indigo streaming around the silver.City dwellers treasure their private scraps of outside air, and the balconies around hers were often occupied. Laughter wafted from late-night parties. Tobacco and marijuana and grill smoke insinuated themselves into her contemplation. But she never saw anyone else looking at the moon, and presumed that no one outside her private scrap of nation could see it.

  • Kinsey_m
    2019-03-24 07:36

    Beautiful writing and artwork. A short story as fresh as the wild mint with many interesting ideas. The land of Tikanu is made up of many discontinuous small spaces and so does the structure of the story, a clear demonstration that it is not necessary to have all the pieces to provide an atmosphere or a sense of story.

  • Marco
    2019-03-21 05:28

    I really like this author (and of The Deepest Rift in particular), but this short story really did not work for me. It reminds me a little of Lovecraft's dreamland stories (that I did not enjoy either).

  • Anne
    2019-03-19 08:31

    This stream of stories makes for a beautiful meditation on the fantastic that presses close, if we can just find the door into it. It also has wild mint, which makes for a glorious scent and exhilarating tea.

  • Fantasy Literature
    2019-03-22 07:41

    We love this!Featured in our Short Fiction column:

  • Sarah
    2019-03-22 07:16

    Probably more like 3.5 stars. Very interesting concept, with a land that exists in small hidden places in and around our world. I liked the way it was told as well.

  • Kerry
    2019-03-04 09:42

    The writing in this small volume is like a watercolor painting: hues merging with each other at varying intensities to reveal a soft-focus composition that is vibrant and alive.

  • Alex Sarll
    2019-02-26 11:37

    A charming, mint-scented tangent on all those magic worlds into which we used to dream of escaping.

  • Jennifer
    2019-03-03 07:33

    I can't believe I missed this when it was published. Very good.

  • Amy
    2019-03-14 05:33

    This little series of vignettes about people's interactions with an unseen land is I want more stuff from Ms. Emrys in 2015!

  • Nerine Dorman
    2019-03-06 09:32

    Absolutely magical, loved the whimsy.

  • Zachariah Carlson
    2019-03-12 09:39

    I love secret magic-land stories, and I really like how this one interweaves personal stories into the roots of its infinite mint garden.

  • Benjanun
    2019-03-01 03:20

    This is quiet, pretty, and very charming portal fantasy – brief but full of wonder, and such a comforting joy to read.