Vanishing and Other Stories by Deborah Willis
review copy courtesy of Harper Perennial
Summary from Goodreads:
Vanishing and Other Stories explores emotional and physical absences, the ways in which people leave, are left, and whether or not it's ever possible to move on. Readers will encounter a skinny ice-cream scooper named Nina Simone, a vanishing visionary of social utopia, a French teacher who collects fiancés, and a fortune-telling mother who fails to predict the heartbreak of her own daughter. The characters in this collection will linger in the imagination, proving that nothing is ever truly forgotten.
The brief description from Goodreads, while intriguing, really doesn't do this book justice. I don't usually go in for short stories, but these were just so good -- and they stay with you. It took me a while to read the book - not because it was boring or I didn't like it --- but because I found that I really wanted to just read a couple of the stories and then savor them, mull them over in my mind. The writing is beautiful throughout.
It would be impossible to review each story, but I'll just mention a few of the stories that really stuck with me. "Vanishing", the first story sets the tone for the rest of the book. It was such an intriguing tale. And sad. I thought it illustrated the long term effects of loss and the search to understand. "Traces" is a wonderful story about a woman whose husband is having an affair and she gathers information about his mistress through the traces that the woman leaves. The twist at the end is a surprise that works. "This Other Us" was a disturbing but captivating story about three friends that really stuck in my mind long after reading it. In this story, as in the others, the style is minimalist and I found myself pondering the characters and stories long after I finished reading. Actually, I think there is something memorable about almost every story in this collection.