Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us: Stories Paperback – October 1, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$23.56 $0.22

Featured Titles in Fiction
Beloved
Beloved
Beloved
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In her affecting debut collection, van den Berg taps into her characters' losses with an impressive clarity. Each of these stories is meticulously crafted, and often the protagonist is recovering emotionally from a staggering life's blow. In Goodbye My Loveds, two siblings are reeling from the death of their parents, scientists fatally snake-bitten in the Amazon; a sister leaves college to take care of her 12-year-old brother and recognizes the need to suppress her own needs in order to help her brother face their new lives. In the beautifully elegiac Where We Must Be, a failed actress gives up on L.A. and finds work as Bigfoot in a theme park; her love affair with a young neighbor dying of cancer underscores the preciousness of time's passing. In the title story, a young woman learns to face her fears while spending time with her scientist mother observing endangered lemurs in Madagascar. These tales are the work of a notable author finding her voice. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Lonely, abandoned, and adrift young women undertake missions esoteric, ludicrous, and risky in van den Berg’s exceptional debut. As compelling as her characters and their predicaments are, it’s van den Berg’s startling insights into the alliance between the human psyche and the mysteries of nature in a time of environmental mayhem that give these short stories their glimmering power. Jean, an aspiring and desperate young actor, plays Bigfoot in a renegade recreational park. Shelby tries to care for her increasingly bizarre little brother after their famous scientist parents die in the Amazon while searching for the “sasquatch of Brazil.” Botanist Emily searches for a rare wildflower in Inverness. Catherine is in the Congo where war, AIDS, and floods conjure up the lake monster mokele mbembe. A man searches for the mishegenabeg, the legendary giant serpent of the Great Lakes. A teenager dreams of becoming a long-distance swimmer as her scientist mother comes undone while studying the doomed lemurs in Madagascar’s pillaged forests. Van den Berg summons monsters born of awe, fear, and guilt, while her burdened but determined characters struggle in a sea of need and indifference. Stunning, desolate, and unforgettable. --Donna Seaman
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 205 pages
  • Publisher: Dzanc Books (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976717778
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976717775
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #429,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Important Information

Ingredients
Example Ingredients

Directions
Example Directions

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the book overall, but honestly, it was a tad depressing and the stories never have any resolution - which is the way they're meant to be, so can't complain about that. Well written, interesting characters.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not long after picking up this debut collection I was lucky enough to hear the author read aloud the first story and to see the way it hit her audience: at times they were spellbound, at others uproarious, but entirely rapt throughout. That's exactly how I felt when I first encountered these deeply moving, startlingly original, uncommonly sensitive stories. There is an emotional thread stitched expertly through this book - people gut-punched by life trying to get back their breath - but that's not all that holds the collection together. Here, the mythical mingles with the mundane, outlandish creatures work their way into the lives of characters who feel anything but. Whether writing about a failed actress who impersonates Big Foot by day and tends to a dying lover by night, or a girl who learns to know herself through her mother's obsession with the lemurs of Madagascar, van den Berg manages to pull off the near miraculous: stories so strange and beautiful I felt like I'd been pulled out of the world I know, and yet, somehow, by the end, came away knowing not only more about the world, but about myself.
1 Comment 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
These stories have a perfect mix of the strange and the intimate ordinariness of character lives. Some have more bizarreness than others, but always the right amount. The best aspect of these stories, though, is the subtlety of the emotions. The emotion is always there, and you can always feel exactly what the message is through what the character is feeling, but it isn't crassly articulated. Pressed, I'm not sure I could articulate it myself. Instead, I just sat back after reading each story and knew I got it (whether or not what I got was what was intended).
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
"It was late, 4 A.M., and I'd just finished the story for the third time. I turned back to the title page, "We Are Calling to Offer You a Fabulous Life," and just sat there, not thinking of anything in particular. Instead, I sat there in the sleeping house, doing my best to chain-smoke myself into a coma, and rolled the feeling of the story back and forth. It was smooth and delicate, with just the right pacing, nothing too high or low. It was the delicacy that grabbed me. Laura van den Berg certainly has hands for the delicate things -- things like longing and loss and being compassless in a strange land -- things that any writer with clumsier hands destroys in the telling."
Click [...] to read the full review.
1 Comment 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
Perhaps one of the core narratives through this collection is love, lost love, women trying to own their lives through the natural and cultural world after relationships go south for any number of reasons. But that's too simplistic. The quasi fantastical and mythic search for mystery larger than us, and in the world around us, is brought down to human size, with all the misery, desire, loss, and uncertainty attached. These characters are human, rich and earthy. A solid debut collection.
Comment 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Yes! Yes! Yes!

I double dog dare you guys to buy van den Berg's book/books (3) for that matter.

She is a master of the short stories. Truly, the collection of stories (as well as The Isle of Youth's) are all consistent until the very last one. They're great! They bring me joy to read and not because all of them are happy, happy but because they're well constructed, the characters are memorable and her sentences are the very best.

Read her first two and can't wait to read her newest book (a novel), Find Me :)
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the sort of cloned junk the creative writing programs are turning out today, which is why America's most vital writers have never come from an MFA program. All the stories here are self-consciously "literate" and "sensitive." Every story is basically the same as every other one, with the partial exception of the first one, which is the freshest and most original. They're basically one story re-written. I don't just mean van den Berg likes to deal with recurring motifs, which most writers do. I mean they're the same story. She has little to say, but she says it over and over again. And she says it the same way, in the same voice, that very pretentious and precious "literary" voice each time.

What bothers me about this homogenization of what is "literary" is that it used to be the crooked voices that gave rise to literature. They were all people who did not conform to the time. Since college programs took over and codified creativity, we're getting regurgitations of what the teaching establishment is telling us is great. Remember that Apple commercial that began, "Here's to the crazy ones..."? Does anybody believe in 50 years any of today's lit fiction writers (in America at least), if they keep writing the way they are, will be included in a list like that?

Fragile young women, in strange places, with mothers who are either strong-willed or scientists and fathers/brothers who are absentee or dead; strange sightings of unexplained phenomena. Boyfriends/lovers who are out of touch or with whom the narrator has grown out of touch. Deep secret buried in the past. Epiphany after about 10-15 pages. Lather, rinse, repeat. Don't bother. Or just read one story; as someone else has observed here, you've read them all.
Read more ›
2 Comments 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?