L’Amande et La Fleur tells the story of the rushed adolescence and young love of an orphaned French artist, Julian, who travels to China to rid himself of the stultifying effects of the politics, bigotry, and seemingly endless prosperity in early 20th Century Parisian upper-crust culture. It is near the Yangtze River where he meets Solomon Garcon, an African-American draft-dodger who has seen the horrid effects of war. The story presents the two in monologue—from morning to night, against a background of mountains—caught in the gusts of memory that rise up within them. Despite their different stations, the two suffer identically from the insecurity of measuring themselves against a world undreamt-of by any other mind and the fear that one has accidentally outdone the other. The result becomes sunk in the unreality of the labyrinthine self that exists not to comment on the passing people and events but to celebrate the connection between the various fractals of our lives. Equal part philosophical quest and brutally detailed introspection, L’Amande bends the infinite involutions of self-consciousness without sacrificing a plot that highlights adult relationships and themes of loss, love, and problems of a changing world.
Thomas Hrycyk is currently a candidate for an MFA at Queens University of Charlotte and has worked for multiple literary publications including Fifth Wednesday Journal. He was born in Chicago and holds a B.A. in English and Philosophy from DePaul University. He recently moved to Nashville and works as an educator at Tennessee State University.