Nature or Nurture

A review of Janette Platana’s “Spontaneous Generation” in A Token of my Affliction (Tightrope Books, 2015)

By Derek Newman-Stille

Janette Platana’s macabre tale “Spontaneous Generation” uses the movement of maggots across a floor from a dead bird in the chimney to discourse on notions of life and death, family, and ideas of nurture v nature on personal development. Platana questions and critiques the notion of “family” itself as her main character speculates on what she and her sister have in common, pondering how they relate to each other and the common language that develops among siblings. She questions ideas of resonance and what factors bring two people together despite differences in experience and personality and the power that “change” itself has over lives.

This is a fundamentally philosophical text, using questions about how life develops to explore the minutia of personal interactions. Platana recognizes the power of simple interactions between two people for revealing wider philosophical speculations and questions and the power of watching flies mutate and change from human intervention to reveal something about the process of the development of life itself. Platana questions where choices originate from and what factors make us choose certain paths and not others, interweaving this with questions of evolution and mutation, comparing the biological to the personal.

To discover more about A Token of my Affliction, visit

Derek Newman-Stille

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