Wednesday, September 15, 2010

'Vanishings and other stories' by Deborah Willis

Genre:  Fiction/Short Stories

About:(From TLC) In Vanishing and Other Stories, secrets are both kept and unearthed, and lives are shaped by missing lovers, parents, and children. With wisdom and dexterity, moments of dark humor, and a remarkable economy of words, Deborah Willis captures an incredible array of characters that linger in the imagination and prove that nothing is ever truly forgotten.

Descriptive Words: page-turning, gripping, funny, emotional, aggravating, cliff hangers

What worked for me:
  • Each story stood well on its own, and it also felt like a cohesive book with loss, disappearing, vanishing as the elements that pulled it together.
  • I was amazed at how eloquently Willis could tell a story in such a short amount of words and pages. I was immediately drawn into each story and didn't want them to end.
  • There are several stories that I wanted to continue because I seriously needed to know what was going to happen next!
  • I really liked Willis's voice. She's a strong writer with a lot to say. I want to read more from her!
  • I adored, absolutely adored Caught. I loved the endless possibilities that her writing gave to the plot. Her first sentence, "There's more than one way it could go" and then her next paragraph started with "Or maybe not" was fantastic and it just took off from there and captivated me to the very end!
What didn't work for me:
  • I've realized that I don't like stories that are written in the following style, "You do this and you do that. You feel this and you feel that." - This is called Second Person Point of View and according to my son they do not use this POV in their writing, they only use first and third. I now know why!!  Out of all her stories, Remember, Relive was my least favorite. I just could not connect with this one.
  • I love the short story format, but I found out that I'm not a fan of ambiguous endings!! But in a twisted way I enjoyed you know what I mean?
Recommend? I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book to those that love short stories. I know there are plenty of readers who really enjoy those 'what if endings' and  can move on to the next story without mourning the loss of the characters from the previous one. I'm warming up to short stories and I would read another collection by this author in a heartbeat!

My Rating: 4/5

Thank you to TLC for asking me to be a part of this book tour.
Check out the other tour stops HERE.

Deborah Willis’s work has appeared in the Bridport Prize Anthology, Event, and Grain, and she was a winner of PRISM International‘s annual fiction prize. Short-listed for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and long-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, Vanishing and Other Stories is her first book of fiction.
Visit Deborah at her website.

© 2010, Staci of Life in the Thumb. All Rights Reserved. If you reading this on a site other than, Life in the Thumb or Staci's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. I am thinking I would like this!! Sounds great Staci! :):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):)

  2. That Second Person Point of View seems odd to me too!

  3. Nice review Staci.
    For some reason this book doesn't speak to me, but then all can't

  4. I like short stories, but have a hard time with the second person point of view. It just seems weird...

  5. I don't have much luck when it comes to short story collections but I've noted the title and will keep it in mind. I appreciate all the points you made in your review, Staci!

  6. I recently read a short story written in the second person, and I didn't care for it either. I do know what you mean by ambiguous endings. My mood determines whether it worked or not. :)

  7. I'm not crazy about second person point of view either. I think it's very difficult to write it well. Other than that, the book sounds wonderful.

  8. Sounds intriguing. I'll keep this on my radar. Great review Staci.

  9. Ooooh, I do love short stories. And ambiguous endings. (Usually, anyway.) Yeah, I think this one sounds wonderful! Thanks, Staci!

  10. I'm not sure I've ever read a book told from the second person POV. I guess I must have but nothing comes to mind so I don't know if I'd like it or not. Sounds like it might be confusing if not done well.

    Great review! And I like the author's photo too - she looks so happy!

  11. I have a hard time enjoying MOST short story collects. not my THANG really.

  12. I've learned to love short stories and don't mind the open-ended ones if they are done well. It makes me feel as if I'm now the author and can take the story the rest of the way, any where I want to.

  13. I'm finding that I really like short stories - it's quite a new thing for me. This book sounds like one I'd really enjoy. I can't wait to pick it up!

    Thanks for being a part of this tour. :)

  14. Yes, I do know what you mean with the ending hting. Not something you would normally like, but in this context it works for you. Great review and glad you enjoyed these stories.

  15. Ambiguous endings feel lazy to me. I need to read more short stories, but they just aren't my favorite.


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