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Vanishing and Other Stories Paperback – August 17, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (August 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062007521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062007520
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,064,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The characters in these tidy stories navigate turbulent relationships with family members and romantic partners, many of whom vanish, as in the title story, about a daughter's struggles to reconcile her father's sudden desertion of their family. In "The Weather," a teenage girl's new friend betrays her. "And if there was one thing I knew," the narrator says, "it was that this wouldn't get easier. It would ache for years." This lesson holds true for most of these stories, particularly in "Remember, Relive," the second-person narrative of a young woman grappling with a traumatic past as her mother sinks into an Alzheimer's haze. Other stories have decidedly narrow focuses, as with "The Separation," about an 11-year-old's relationship with her aloof older sister, or "Escape," about a young widower's fledgling gambling addiction. Though the stories share themes and narrative tone, each stands firmly on its own, with Willis in full control as the characters face down their losses.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

A remarkable new writer, Willis delivers 14 lovely tales and countless vivid moments in her first fiction collection. She introduces us to characters living simple lives while coping with various forms of struggle—from a father trying to reconnect with his daughter to a 13-year-old girl losing her virginity to her sister’s husband. Willis deftly creates an array of individuals—urban, rural, young, old, educated, naive—dealing with the effects of longing, whether for a relationship or their former selves. As one narrator says, “People are always spiraling off in other directions, like twigs knocked around by a river current.” It is stunning to see how Willis’ characters shape themselves around what is missing in their lives, and to see how Willis takes such care with all of the people who inhabit her stories. Readers will feel the joy of discovery in reading an emerging writer whose work will crowd our bookshelves for years to come. --Annie Tully

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nelaine Sanchez VINE VOICE on August 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
What a sad, unnerving, yet touching and memorable set of short stories. I cant' really say that I am fond of short stories - although I must confess, that as of late, they have been growing on me more and more.

These 14 stories have a common thread - someone or something is missing. It could be the absence of a loved one or the death of a significant other, even the loss of something - in the end someone vanishes and someone is left behind. These are the stories of those who stay, how they live their lives without this person or thing that is missing.

I have to say that Ms. Willis is a very talented writer. Her words were a joy to read. She masterfully grabs you at the start of each story and you will find that you can't stop until that story is over. I found it very unique that we get so much in each story, which you usually don't find in short stories. By giving you details of a characters past and present, you begin to understand them more fully, you get to know them and eventually acknowledge and appreciate their growth throughout their stories. This alone was quite astonishing to me, because although the stories were mostly sad, you feel as if there is some closure in each one. She also captures her characters - whether it be a woman scorned, a friend, a sibling, or even an aging cowboy, young or old - the narrators all seemed true, someone you might know, or even a few of their aspects might be found within you.

Vanishing was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction. This book is one I'd recommend to lovers of short stories or even better yet, to book clubs, because it is very thought provoking. My final say is, you may relate to one of these stories or, you might relate to none, but in the end, they will stay with you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sandra Kirkland VINE VOICE on November 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
In the fourteen stories in Vanishing, Deborah Willis explores the ways that we lose people and items that are important to us. Some are vanish through infidelity and some through physical separation, while others vanish through death or even loving outside accepted boundaries. In each case, there is the person who vanishes, and those left behind, who must determine how to move on in their lives without the person who is gone.

The opening story, "Vanishing" is my favorite. In this story, a playwright father and husband leaves his house one day, never to return. The story follows his wife and daughter throughout their lives after this event, outlining the various ways that his disappearance changes their lives, even decades later. The deftness Willis demonstrates in this outline of all the repercussions caused by his decision to leave brings the story close to the reader, and makes them spend time thinking of how their life would change without their loved ones close at hand.

In this first book of fiction, Deborah Willis displays the insight into human decisions that has marked her previous work. She won the PRISM International annual fiction prize. She was long-listed for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and short-listed for the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction. Her work can also be found in The Bridport Prize Anthology, Event, and Grain. This book is recommended for readers interested in determining how we relate to each other, and what it means when the human connections are broken, either through actions or physical space.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lydia TOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
There may have been a little bit of magic in this book.

VANISHING and OTHER STORIES is a collection of short stories written by Deborah Willis. Every story deals with an absence of some sort; a missing father, a dead wife, a lover parted, childhood lost.

The writing in this book is phenomenal. Incredibly beautiful and moving and by the time I finished each short story I felt as if I'd been sucked into some kind of time warp and, in the process of just a few real-time minutes, read a novel of depth, length and substance. From the first sentence of each of these stories I was drawn into a world that needed no building because that sentence gave me a true sense of the history behind the story before it even really began.

This Other Us is one of the stories that seems to catch everyones attention and, while interesting and.. disturbing in its own way, it was Traces that really enraptured me. Focusing a story on senses and thoughts, the thoughts of a woman toward the woman who is usurping her in her husbands affections - and the twist.. oh the twist had me curling my toes and feeling the heat of anger inside of me wanting to erupt.

I'm not usually a fan of short stories (and this is the second collection I've read of them) but this book is a beautiful, perfect example of just how perfect they can be.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Donna C on July 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
Every once in a while I'll come across a book with such stunning writing that when I get to the end of it I can't help but heave a great big sigh of relief. There is hope. There is talent. There are WORDS.

I like reading anthologies but they're usually a compendium of stories from different writers so each work is, by default, going to be different. Different styles, different prose, different methods. Personally I find it a lot harder for an author to write a single anthology composed entirely of their own stories and have each story differentiate itself from the last. My experience in that is pretty even keel; one working out not so well and the other I ended up loving. VANISHING? Yeah, I pretty much loved it.

VANISHING has stories told of life. They're not all that action-packed. In many not much really happens outside of a character's internal monologues. But the way they're all written Willis just sinks her claws into each and every one of her characters and forces them off the page so that you can't help but see them as their own individuals. And that's exactly what they are. From the grieving scientist in ESCAPE to the lonely teacher in THE FIANCEE to the boy-turned-man in AND THE LIVING IS EASY, each are individuals, each are wholly separate and each are as vivid in my mind as if they were all given their own books.

VANISHING is one of those books that one SHOULD read because it's that kind of book. These are the stories that would get taught in literature classes, dissected for meaning, subtext, intent. To some that's a bad thing but I loved reading good short stories when I was in school. It was how I was introduced to the likes of Flannery O'Connor. And she's pretty awesome.
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