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Circling the Drain
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Circling the Drain

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  392 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
Enter into the worlds of fifteen young women who, despite their vastly different circumstances, seem to negotiate an eerily similar and unavoidably dangerous emotional terrain. With a visceral bite or a surreal edge, each electrically charged story in Circling the Drain presents women trying to understand the nature of loss--of leaving or being left--and discovering that ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published May 16th 2000 by Harper Perennial (first published 1999)
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Mar 27, 2011 Nina rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-books
A little uneven but ultimately haunting. Davis's prose is a force to be reckoned with; there are many moments of true power here, and throughout all a sense of aching loss.
Nov 22, 2008 Victoria rated it really liked it
Startling, surrealistic tales with the immediacy of photograph taken at high noon. Seamlessly blends reality with the interior world of memorable characters.
Mrs. Dalton
Mar 22, 2016 Mrs. Dalton rated it really liked it
This author's stories switch back and forth between realistic fiction and magical realism. Although it can be jarring after finishing a realistic story to then readjust to a whole new set of rules the author has created for another, I overall really enjoyed Davis's writing. All the tales end without true closure, which can leave the reader hopeful, uncertain, or depressed. The chosen order of the stories arranges these endings nicely though. I must warn you, however, the final story is quite som ...more
Ethel Rohan
Jun 04, 2012 Ethel Rohan rated it it was amazing
While earning my MFA at Mills College, I had the good fortune and great pleasure of taking two of Amanda Davis's classes. She was an excellent writer and teacher, and a wonderful human being. She was so alive. On March 14th 2003, while touring to promote her first novel Wonder When You'll Miss Me a plane carrying Amanda Davis and her parents crashed into a mountain in North Carolina. There were no survivors. Amanda was thirty-two.

In a tribute to Amanda on the McSweeney's site I wrote:

"The title
Jul 30, 2010 M rated it liked it
Although I enjoyed reading these stories, I don't understand the rave reviews for this collection. There are a couple of really good ones, notably "Fat Ladies Floated in the Sky Like Balloons" and "Faith, or Tips for the Successful Young Lady", which was later expanded into Davis' first novel, "Wonder When You'll Miss Me." But the rest of them seem rather unfinished, and like they need some further editing and rewriting to make them truly great. I think perhaps if the book wasn't covered in fawn ...more
Jul 23, 2014 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, short-stories
My criteria for 5-star short story collections:

1) At least two stories must really dazzle me
2) I can at no point feel bored while reading any of the stories

Often, I feel that short stories are a form that lose control if the authors write for too long--often I am drawn to the shortest stories in a collection, because more interesting things happen in a short time. However, in Amanda Davis' collection, I found the opposite to be true: the longer stories are definitely the best ones.

"Testimony" a
Mar 06, 2015 Anna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommendations
An amazing collection of strongly emotional, complex stories that will move anyone with a soul.
Stephanie Austin
Sep 27, 2010 Stephanie Austin rated it it was amazing
I'm not exactly sure where Amanda Davis has been all my life, but now that I've found her I won't let her go. This is one of those collections that I read straight through. You know how sometimes story collections have this whole range, everything from AMAZING to blah. This one ran up on AMAZING almost the entire time. There was one story in the middle that I kind of skipped through, it was about a guy who made soup but the soup wasn't really soup even though it kind of was and then a lady came ...more
Jill Pickle
Sep 28, 2015 Jill Pickle rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
My favorite collection of short stories. Beautiful and spare.
C.D. Sweitzer
Apr 03, 2012 C.D. Sweitzer rated it really liked it
A collection of great short stories-only a couple that I didn't care for. The last story featured a brilliantly original character, the wise-cracking and insatiable former self of the main character (who has recently lost much weight). The tension between the main character and this haunting ghost of herself makes this story gripping.

A few of the stories just reminisce of the experience of young love, or love unrequited, or special high school dances that will probably appeal to younger female r
Apr 11, 2013 Asia rated it it was amazing
I read this after reading Davis's Wonder when you'll miss me, which I completely loved. This series of short stories is an excellent sampling of Davis's broad artistic ability. Her real strength for me is her ability to describe moments of intense emotion be it sorrow or lust. I felt pulled in by her lines, lured slowly then thrust full force into the moment before a kiss, or the swell or sorrow. Her ability is great and I'm very sad that she will not be able to give this world more of her talen ...more
May 28, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I really enjoyed Davis's novel Wonder When You'll Miss Me, which is actually an expansion on one of the short stories from Circling the Drain. The overall tone of the short stories is melancholy but there are moments of humor. The stories focus on young women who are all feeling some sort of loss in their lives. There's a little bit of magical realism going on in the stories as well.

Davis was a very talented author and it is tragic that she had to die at such a young age.
May 26, 2014 Katie rated it it was amazing
The bulk of this work presents startling and often off-putting stories. The art of the short story is perhaps one of the most challenging forms of writing where depth must be communicated in the least amount of words as possible that serve to create a fully lived history of the characters who move through the pages. This book is haunting and well crafted. To say it is enjoyable negates the complex topics but nevertheless if you want quality short stories this is it.
Nov 26, 2007 h rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2007, fiction
i love, in deep and unexpected ways, davis' novel "wonder when you'll miss me." and there wasn't a story in this slim collection that i didn't enjoy. the emotional landscapes of the women in these stories unite them, even as they are divided from whoever they love. "chase" and "sticks and stones" and "the visit" stood out for me. there's a gently magical quality to the storytelling. i know i'll read this many times - maybe even as often as i revisit the novel.
G Lee
Aug 03, 2014 G Lee rated it really liked it
Not bad!
Jun 07, 2008 Dan rated it did not like it
I'm beginning to think my lack of enthusiasm for Davis is the result of some blindness on my part. I stopped reading this collection after I made it through a few of the pieces, which seemed only like drafts of fiction. The title story in particular, with its melodramatic premise of a woman jumping off a bridge because she caught her hunky boyfriend in bed with a boy, struck me as an undergraduate effort that should have been filed away, not published.
Oct 04, 2012 Erin rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: kathy
Reread "Chase" and the title story and still think this collection deserves 5 stars. For me, Amanda Davis ranks up there with Jonathan Safran Foer, Marcus Zusak, and Sylvia Plath. Intelligent, funny, inspired.

I liked this collection better than Aimee Bender's, esp "Spice" and "Chase," and I love Aimee Bender. What a loss--imagine all the other good books Amanda Davis would have written if she hadn't passed away so young.
Lolly K Dandeneau
Oct 13, 2014 Lolly K Dandeneau rated it liked it
review soon, busy month with weddings, birthdays and out of town visitors, so I will post this review by the week's end.
Jun 21, 2011 Steven rated it liked it
It is spooky how this young writer's mortal intimations are reflected through this and her novel Wonder When You'll Miss Me. Cruelly taken by fate foreshadowed, a small airplane crash in 2003 with her family while promoting her second book. Her writing had promise, and was ironically a testament to having survived a particularly turbulent coming of age.
Mar 04, 2014 Anna rated it it was amazing
I first heard about Amanda Davis because McSweeney's had a tribute section, and the memories of her from her friends and colleagues made me want to get to know her. This was her first book, and the short stories are unbelievably good. There are common themes in some of them, but tied together in a marvelous way. Highly recommended.
Christian Crews
Mar 20, 2012 Christian Crews rated it really liked it
Oh, she was a fantastic writer. Sometimes she's a bit out there for me, but the talent is clear even in the stories that weren't my thing. There is a great example of 2nd perspective in this work, and it brought home why an author might want to choose 2nd for a story (who knew?).
Aug 23, 2007 Matt rated it really liked it
Shelves: shortstories
Amanda Davis liked to flirt in her short stories. Details of characters and events are lightly brushed against your mind through the tales. It's a challenge to not get wrapped up in this book. I cannot recommend the reading of the first and last chapters of this book enough.
Feb 15, 2013 Stephanie rated it really liked it
If you want to read unhappy stories told in a beautiful way, this is the book of you. Amanda Davis had such a vibrant mind. Her descriptions are lush and unexpected, and I really felt for these characters, even when they weren't particularly agreeable.
Jul 14, 2008 laur rated it it was ok
eh. some of the stories were good. some of them relatively terrible. it was a book i was excited to read and very disapointed to actually spend time on. it was one of those ones i had to make myself finish. it's a good thing it was short.
Richard Jespers
Jan 09, 2015 Richard Jespers rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-fiction
Davis writes about really tough subjects. You feel them. Why is it women writers get a rap for not being tough? Writing is imaginative yet quite real. [Davis died in a plane crash 2003, but fans may already know that.]
Oct 21, 2011 Megan rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite book of short stories. Each one is so poignant and relatable that it almost hurts to read them. Amanda Davis was a truly talented writer, and it's a shame she died so young. :'(
Aug 08, 2007 Flannery rated it liked it
This one was okay, not as good as her other one. A lot of it was magical realism which annoys me these days. However, she had some beautiful descriptions and words in there.
Dec 13, 2008 rachel rated it really liked it
Every single one of these stories is a downer, but they're still beautifully written and fun to read. I suggest enjoying this book with a glass of wine while in a melancholy mood.
Ayelet Waldman
Mar 03, 2013 Ayelet Waldman rated it it was amazing
This is my friend Amanda's wonderful story collection. The last is my favorite, which is lucky because that's what she used as a beginning for her novel!
Karima Ridgley
May 22, 2010 Karima Ridgley rated it it was amazing
This is another one of my favorite books of all times. I can't wait until enough time has passed for me to be able to read it all over again.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Amanda Davis was born in 1970 and was a writer. She released one collection, Circling the Drain, and one novel, Wonder When You'll Miss Me. Davis died at the age of 32 in a plane crash on March 14, 2003. The plane was piloted by her father and crashed in McDowell County, N
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