Desert Angels

Fiction - Short Story/Novela
76 Pages
Reviewed on 08/09/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Nino Lobiladze for Readers' Favorite

Desert Angels by Lyman Ditson invites us to take a walk in the desert. After meeting Boris the Angel, who speaks with a Slavic accent and has a bold head, but very persuasive wings, the protagonist finds himself on an old ship led by a green parrot. This courageous bird is determined to find the Tree of Eternity, for he's tired of taking vitamins for better health. It's a part of the protagonist's mission predicted by Boris. But he doesn't believe in the possibility of gaining immortality that easily, so he and his dog, Lion, return to the desert. Many other encounters are waiting for them, like the one with a tomb-selling vulture. More than that, Lion starts talking to him! All the protagonist wants is to return back home. But it's important to continue because the first angel has shown him his old poems, reminding him about past wounds. Will he be able to find his way back home?

This novella is multilayered and will appeal to fans of short and philosophical prose. Lyman Ditson manages to entertain and make us look deeper into our souls at the same time. He does it brilliantly in that Desert Angels is never heavy or boring, and even the biblical allusions will not scare us away. On the contrary, the language used is simple with a good pinch of humor. The features of Boris the Angel that make him so lovable, the green parrot with eye problems, and the tortoise wearing red sneakers will make us smile and stay with us forever. Also, it's impossible to predict what kind of amazing encounter awaits the protagonist around the next corner. I liked the amusing illustrations by talented Jonathan Brown very much too. The poems are rich with metaphors that embellish this wonderful book and give us many clues to understanding the stages and the final destination of the whole journey. We don't know the protagonist's name. Maybe it's because he is each and every one of us.

Jon Michael Miller

Desert Angels by Lyman Ditson is a short, thought-provoking book that may also be profound. Each chapter (or Angel) contains a story (a kind of step in an odyssey), a cartoon-like drawing, and one or two mysterious poems. The overall narrative is of a man and his dog Lion becoming lost in the desert, and while trying to find his way back to his cabin, he meets up with a variety of characters from whom he tries to find out how to get back home. The characters he meets and what they have to say seem whimsical, but the mystery of their words could be profound, though to the book’s traveler they are more confusing than not. Soon we find ourselves in an Alice in Wonderland kind of world, definitely charming and imaginative, but disarming. We become like the lost traveler in the book.

That’s how I felt at least, kind of like Sir Guyon, the Redcrosse Knight, on this trip toward enlightenment in Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queen. In each sequence, we learn an important lesson or a myth about life, particularly about faith. But for me, the lessons in Lyman Ditson's book are elusive, hard to pin down, until the surprise ending. Befuddled as I was, the ride was a pure delight, especially the magical little poems that finish off the chapters (or angels). Some books are like mirrors in which each viewer sees him or herself revealed. These are the best books, are they not?--the ones that leave you breathless, feeling you’ve come to know yourself (and others) a little better, but if asked, you just smile and keep the answer to yourself. Desert Angels by Lyman Ditson is one of those wonderful experiences. Read it, you feel a little wiser but do not know quite why.

Maria Victoria Beltran

Desert Angels by Lyman Ditson is an entertaining yet thought-provoking novella. A man and his dog take a short walk in the New Mexico desert behind his home and come across a bald man wearing a long white robe. The man is hunched over a table and scribbles on paper. Most surprising of all is that he has enormous, glowing white wings. The angel’s name is Boris, and he informs the man that he has been chosen to go on a mission. The mission is to go to a buccaneer ship, find the captain, and learn, then continue the mission. What follows is a surreal adventure into a world populated by unique characters who will try to help the man find what he is looking for.

Lyman Ditson’s Desert Angels is a narrative that can make readers rethink how they view things. It is a surreal and poetic adventure through the New Mexico desert and a world that exists outside the realm of reality. At the same time, it’s also a spiritual journey that explores the meaning of man’s existence. The plot of Desert Angels is deceptively simple: a man and his dog taking a short walk. From this simple set-up, Ditson introduces several unique characters and weird situations. Poetry is also used as a literary device in telling this dream-like story. The result is a provocative piece of writing that ensures its pages will remain in the reader’s thoughts for a long time.