TW/CW: Sadism, Suicidal Ideation, Alcoholism, Cannibalism, Violence
Review Written by Dominic Pierre
In Palaces collection, Folktales for the Diseased Individual, readers are picked-up and laid to bed in a series of 8 personal essays.
Folktales open with "They Are Very, Very Sick People", an essay where Palaces works with sentences and paints vivid images of violence and sadism in readers' heads as she delivers haunting sentences one after the other.
"He and I were left alone, and he showed me what he'd been doing on his computer. It looked like a video game in which he was punching a blonde celebrity, widely disliked. He was turning her purple."
The two essays follow: "Drinking Me" and "Prettiest." Capitalizes off Palaces observations giving readers an insight into her world― introducing us to people she's encountered, the way she perceived herself, and how others did as well, that works in concert with her fascinations while in a state of reflection.
From Drinking Me: "Yet I let him write a new story because of all the ways, he described my face and the deadly things that should be done to it. To my eyelashes, to my hourglass shape. They inspired him."
In "Prettiest," Palaces closes out the first paragraph, writing, "Forgive my young traumas" before breaking the essay wide-open into an exploration of image, sexuality, and suicidal ideation.
Throughout the essay, I admired how Palaces spoke about herself in relation to an object.
"In the end, I had the potential to be just an arrangement, another styrofoam apple on the table."
Before delivering my favorite line in this piece.
"Instead, I made him brownies―a metaphor for wanting my heart to be at least edible, if not eaten, maybe. Or maybe he'd noticed how much I'd been shaking, too, because he took them happily before a long-armed, finger-intertwined goodbye."
Senses of panic and paranoia in the essay, "Home From School, Searching For The Man Who Will Kill Me." where Palaces continues to feed us insights by writing, "I was a twelve-year-old who recorded Camp Rock songs on her MP3 player then worried she'd axe her best friend to death." Were immediately felt and harbored
Shortly followed by the three-bullet points:
As I read over this piece, it made me reminiscent of thoughts I had surrounding both my place in the world and religion at one point in time. Specifically, in the next paragraph, Palaces continues to tug at a relatable fear many of us who grew up with a religious structure had.
"Whenever the cross on my nightstand wasn't straight, it'd mean I might be the devil. If I did something my parents told me not to do, I also might be the devil."
"Home From School, Searching For The Man Who Will Kill Me", provided an odd sense of comfort. From a reader standpoint, I couldn't resist giving Palaces all of her flowers simply by the sheer vulnerability and display of existential fears that she emptied onto the page. In addition, the journal entries that she provides (one from December 21st and July 20th, 2020) within the essay exemplify a more exclusive look into her world at two distinct parts of her life and how it carried over.
Another thing that I found to be fascinating was the closing cover. It's a photo of Young Palaces holding a bag next to a Young boy with a photoshopped slip over his head, reading: "Even though you feel down sometimes, here are some positive words that describe you—and I'm checking all that apply."
Funny, attractive, kind, and nice hair checked all the boxes.
Overall, I greatly admired Folktales for The Diseased Individual. However, my favorite thing is how Palaces tugs at her memory in the act of healing and leaves everything on the page for our reading pleasure. The use of text bubbles, Tumblr conversations, and diary entries tugged at the strings of nostalgia that I thought were long gone. In a sense, each essay felt like taking an intimate look through the diary of a woman making sense of her world by looking back on distinct memories that had a lingering effect.
Palaces created a collection containing complete sets of teeth, and one should proceed with caution before reading. The rotating themes of obsession, suicidal ideation, cannibalism, alcohol addiction, intrusive thoughts, and sexual content will chew you up and spit you out, leaving nothing but bare-bones on the bedroom floor. However, Palaces' attention to detail and ability to work with a sentence, drawing out a series of emotions for readers as she recalls these moments in her life, made Folktales for the Diseased Individual nothing short of fascinating.
Dominic Pierre (He/Him) is a writer and editor based in New York City. His work has appeared in Near Window Magazine, CP Quarterly, the winnow, Dreams Walking Magazine, and Moonchild Magazine.
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