A woman arrives alone at a Best Western seeking respite from an emptiness that plagues her. She has fled to the California high desert to escape a cloud of sorrow, for both her father in the ICU and a husband whose illness is worsening. What the motel provides, however, is not peace but a path, thanks to a receptionist who recommends a nearby hike. Out on the sun-scorched trail, the woman encounters a towering cactus whose size and shape mean it should not exist in California. Yet the cactus is there, with a gash through its side that beckons like a familiar door. So she enters it. What awaits her inside this mystical succulent sets her on a journey at once desolate and rich, hilarious and poignant.
Incandescent ... Ecstatically awake to the world’s astonishments ... If I have a gripe, it’s that Joshua trees don’t have 'leaves,' a word Broder uses twice. Spikes, spears, daggers, tines, needles — but, by my code, never leaves. Maybe that’s trifling, maybe not ... A triumph, a ribald prayer for sensuality and grace in the face of profound loss, a hilarious revolt against the aggressive godlessness, dehumanization and fear plaguing our time.
Broder turns to a grimmer topic — grief. But her disarming and whimsical style remains intact ... Broder’s own gift is for scenes and dialogue that are so natural — in that they reflect the ridiculousness and surrealism of real life — that they tip over into the uncanny. She is also very funny ... Never, ever boring.
Most thoughts, feelings and experiences are modified, analyzed or sourced for wry riffs. Sentences reaching for the sublime end in bathos. It’s a smart choice for an anxious narrator, one who is very associative and very online ... Broder is a comedic writer, a poet averse to stale language and an online personality tirelessly manning a churn of new quips on the familiar subject of sadness.