Dandelion Jelly and Falling from Trees

Good morning! Is Spring even getting close to emerging where you are? I am actually writing this post on an early February morning when it is -11F. New record low of course…just another 100 year weather occurrence which seems to be happening more and more.

Weather and climate change are catalysts for a new short story collection by Mike Fiorito.   Falling from Trees is the latest stop on the TLC Book Tour.  I received a free copy for an honest review.

About Falling From Trees

• Publisher: Loyola College/Apprentice House (February 9, 2021)
• Paperback: 115 pages

Exploring the possibility of sentient knowledge, Falling from Trees by Mike Fiorito is a unique collection of short stories with sci-fi undertones. Perfectly  pitched and paced, they are a refreshing addition to the short story genre in the tradition of Italo Calvino, Stanislaw Lem, and Philip K. Dick. Fiorito’s stories grab the reader from the very first sentence and never let go. In clear, provocative and often poetic prose, they explore love, consciousness, identity and the human condition—and succeed in elevating the commonplace to the surreal. Fiorito invites us to interrogate our thinking. “These are not cynical tales,” he writes in the book’s preface. “In fact, they celebrate our potential salvation.”

Heartfelt, with longing and humor, Fiorito’s stories are written in short bursts of other-worldly auras as they knowingly vacillate between science fiction, speculative and literary genres. A few of the stories portray quasi-realistic scenes from the lives of couples and families. Others create worlds that are strange and sad, hopeful and poignant, brilliant and mysterious.

In “Climbing Time,” the first story in Falling from Trees, aliens reach out to individuals with Asperger’s, communicating through vivid, wordless dreams. Other stories contemplate the disastrous impact of climate change. The interconnected “Pale Leviathan” and “Tomorrow’s Ghost” depict the ferocity of the sun invading homes cooled with “freezing air units” and the claustrophobia of a world where children are forced to stay indoors. “The Numbers Man,” “A Star in Time,” and other interconnected stories follow the enigmatic alien Smith through believable yet mysterious encounters with humans in a homeless encampment, a National Park, a beach town and a bar.

While often fantastic, the twenty-one stories in Falling from Trees are ultimately about our lives and the relationships that mean the most to us. “Fiorito teaches us we need not look across the universe for universal truth,” writes Chad Frame, Director of the Montgomery County Poet Laureate Program. “Indeed his characters are as genuine and relatable as they are vast and mysterious. Through them, we can come to understand our place in it a little bit better.”


“Fiorito uses a surreal and dream style to outline his characters, children who draw alone and see “the immortality of yellow, or aliens that bring special gifts to humanity: first and foremost, the meaning of life. And so, thanks to their gifts, all of us finally “have a purpose” and “discover” that the universe is made of music.” —Maria Rosa Curtrufelli, Italian author and journalist, Author of The Woman Outlaw

“The atmospheres conjured up stay with you long after reading, by turns wistful, illogical, and deeply human. A diverting book with a unique flavor.” – Nikki Wyrd, Editor of the Psychedelic Press Journal

“Treading the trails of futurists such as Aldous Huxley and Buckminster Fuller, Mike Fiorito envisions a utopia where there is no need for greed, hunger, or war. These extra temporal tales give an inkling of what could be if we are open to the beauty behind the stars.”— Mike Cobb, Writer

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

About Mike Fiorito

Mike Fiorito is an Associate Editor for Mad Swirl Magazine and a regular contributor to the Red Hook Star Revue. Mike is the author of Call Me Guido published by Ovunque Siamo Press. He is also the author of Freud’s Haberdashery Habits published by Alien Buddha Press. Mike lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and two sons. He is currently working on a novel.

What I thought…

I don’t generally seek out short story collections.  When I do, it’s because I want something light and quick and easy to read.   Although Fiorito’s style is conducive to a quick read, the subject matter is anything but light and easy.  Falling from Trees is a very slim volume of tales. I hasten to call them short stories; they are more like vignettes. Some or loosely woven together.

As mentioned in my opening, climate change sparks most of the stories in Falling from Trees.  Even though that’s a heavy subject, I do agree with the author’s statement of the feeling of potential salvation that runs through the collection.   All of the stories revolve around changing environment and the fate of the planet and I imagine it could be classified as science fiction. But it is not a depressing book even though the Earth implodes during the first tale.  That sense of hope is honestly prevalent.

I do wish that some of the stories’ ends were elaborated on.    The first tale just ended.  I needed a bit more. My favorite story was “Everybody’s Perfect, Nobody’s Human” with the irony of puking on your boss and experiencing the “most human moment” you’ve felt in days.   I was also drawn toward “The Love of a Dandelion.”   A young boy has mastered the art of transporting through color:  “If you could ride yellow, you could transport yourself to any place in the universe in seconds” (8).

I would recommend this book to fans of short-story sci-fi.  I’m rating it a 3 out of 5.

The Food…

As with most books, I read Falling from Trees with foodie goggles on.  I had to look diligently.  There was roasted racoon, turkey dinner, a sandwich, pansy petals and a worm (don’t ask), berries, “runny, synthetic goop” of banquet scrambled eggs (44), morning coffee, a martini, wine, loaf of bread, a seeded loaf, toast, tuna fish, scotch, and ice cream.    None of the stories revolved around food in any way so that made my food pairing for this book a bit tough.

I went back to “The Love of a Dandelion.”

When we discover the love of a dandelion and have compassion for even the sun, we will arrive at these truths.” (8)

The hope and vision the young boy has in the tale continued to make me want to highlight this story.   I thought about making yellow cupcakes with a frosted dandelion flower decoration, but that just seemed trite when I thought about the theme of the book.

I’m not making anything new for this post.  Instead, I’m recycling “Dandelion Jelly.”

For the recipe, click here.

With yellow hope, I wish I could transport out of this polar vortex I’m in today, remove myself from pandemic news, and revisit a bright summer day to observe honey bees visiting each dandelion in our yard.

I’m also using as a mantra “We must continue to trust in the goodness of humanity.”  This statement is attributed to my best friend who has kept me sane during this past year of drama.

Aside:  The weather has been better since I first drafted this post two weeks ago.   I hope Spring has sprung!


Please check out the other stops on this TLC tour:

Thursday, February 11th: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile

Monday, February 15th: Instagram: @readerofthewrittenword

Tuesday, February 16th: Read With Wine

Wednesday, February 17th: Blunt Scissors Book Reviews

Thursday, February 18th: she treads softly

Monday, February 22nd: Lit and Life

Wednesday, February 24th: Write – Read – Life

Monday, March 1st: Welcome to Nurse Bookie

Tuesday, March 2nd: Eliot’s Eats

Wednesday, March 3rd: Instagram: @bookishconnoisseur

Thursday, March 4th: Literary Quicksand

TBD: Stacy’s Books

I’m linking up with Foodies Read

…and Novel Food #41.



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