REVIEW: “Chasing Flowers” by L. Chan

Review of L. Chan, Chasing Flowers, Podcastle: 498 — Listen Online. Reviewed by Heather Rose Jones

A ghost story and a love story–that is, a story of love between ghosts, trying to find a path to reunion in the face of the rules of the Chinese afterlife. In the initial exposition we are given a sketch of those rules, how they tore the two women apart after death, and the doomed circumstances of their love in life that locked them into a cycle of seeking. But one is truly a ghost while the other has been doomed(?) to cycles of rebirth, never entirely knowing why her life is full of emptiness and pain. This psychic connection is tied symbolically in the story to depression and self-harm, with a repeating motif of cutting echoing the harvesting of sap from rubber trees, as well as themes of the harm that women do themselves or allow to be done to them in the name of conformity and tradition. There’s a lot of darkness in this story but a hopeful ending–or as hopeful as a love story can be when one of the two is a ghost.