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The Withdrawal Method

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  220 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
Winner of the Trillium Award

Pasha Malla's extraordinary stories grant us entry into fascinating worlds: the complex world of children acting out half-understood fantasies of adulthood; the modern world of young couples navigating hairpin emotional turns; a near future world where Niagara Falls has run dry.

The Withdrawal Method is a remarkably inventive, assured, and smart
Hardcover, 321 pages
Published May 5th 2008 by House of Anansi
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Sep 03, 2009 Bonnie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Jessica T., Alan B., Marlene, & anyone else interested in reading short stories
4 stars

It seems ironic (to me, anyway) that I had already partly written a review for The Withdrawal Method when I had an accident that meant I had to quit writing: I’ve had to extract my body from the computer. I literally could not sit down. Now I write this half-sitting, half-standing, and in short spurts; I pull out from my chair now and then to give my butt a break.

When the expression “withdrawal method” enters conversation, it’s usually in reference to a form of birth control, generally i
Apr 21, 2012 Tfitoby rated it liked it
Shelves: lit, short-stories
Another in the line of interesting and quirky short story collections by contemporary literary authors to come my way in the past twelve months. Sadly however this is no Suddenly, a Knock on the Door (which is one of the most enjoyable and well written books I've read this year) and not even close to No One Belongs Here More Than You either.

This collection from Pasha Malla has more flat notes than not, nevertheless its high points do soar incredibly high and help to round the overall enjoyment u
Hannah Holborn
Jul 21, 2008 Hannah Holborn rated it it was amazing
The naive innocence of Pasha's all too believably human characters does nothing to protect them from the inevitability of world-class sorrow. These fathers, mothers, sons and daughters don’t stand a chance in a world where rape is a game played by children, love can be shed like skin, and Niagara Falls dries up. I highly recommended “The Withdrawal Method”.
Jul 06, 2008 Ryan rated it really liked it
The Withdrawal Method is a collection of stories by Pasha Malla, and is something of a mixed bag. The stories featured in it range from the mundane to the fantastical, and from the morose to the joyful, making for an interesting read in general. The book's title, The Withdrawal Method, is very apropos - many of the stories, such as Dizzy When You Look Down In and Big City Girls, seem to end around two or three paragraphs before you would expect them to, in a sort of storius interruptus. At first ...more
In my hunt to understand the difference between mainstream and literature fiction, I came across this generality: mainstream fiction focuses on plot development while literature focuses on the development of the character(s). This can sometimes mean that in a work of literature, very little actually happens while the person is transformed, and I find that this can be dry.
Pasha Malla has succeeded in writing short stories that are engaging and active while keeping the center of attention fixed to
Kane Faucher
Sep 01, 2010 Kane Faucher rated it really liked it
The calibre of a short story collection is generally gauged by how well the stories "play together". Pasha Malla is certainly the kind of writer who has the instinct to make short stories hold together in a thematic cohesion. And if we were to evaluate this collection, we would find that it does resonate. The subjects in the stories themselves, from the future drying up of Niagara Falls and an allegorical tale of filmmakers following the lives of fathers from adolescence to eventual death, place ...more
Abeer Hoque
May 09, 2009 Abeer Hoque rated it really liked it
I love Pasha Malla. I thought maybe his short story collection would be on the flippant side, and not just because of its (IMHO not very apt) title, but more because of his hilarious silly punts on But no. The stories are mostly sad, a little bit funny, sometimes surreal, invested in the loss and manifest of what I call Americana but in this case should call Canadiana since most of the stories are set in Canadia, and this last quite unexpected quality: beautifully written.

None o
Apr 13, 2010 Pamela rated it really liked it
I reviewed this collection for Gently Read Literature:

Pasha Malla’s cleverly titled collection The Withdrawal Method features protagonists, most of them men, who feel themselves to be in emotional retreat. They have happenstance jobs, partners they don’t understand, family members they don’t speak to anymore. In “Timber on the Wheel of Everyone,” a man whose young son is ill with cancer lives largely in a fantasy world in which his selfless derring-do makes him a hero to his son and a scourge to
This is simply one of the best recent short story collections I've run across; Pasha Malla's voice is so assured, his technique so polished, that you have to expect he'll become a major figure of the next wave of Canadian writers.

Some of these stories, particularly "Being Like Bulls," in which Niagara Falls has dried up, rely on the magical. Some , like "Long Short Short Long," are entirely realist. Most are character-driven; some ("A Film We Made About Dads") are not. All are strong.

A very impr
Apr 22, 2012 Ian rated it really liked it
Solid collection of short stories many of which touch on some uncomfortable themes and subject matter making the book feel in some ways like the literary equivalent of a Todd Solondz movie. Several of the stories also end on ambiguous notes that might make those who like their literature served pat and resolved unhappy, but Malla's sketches of the quirks of life and relationships are a dish worth savoring.
Fathima Cader
Jul 17, 2009 Fathima Cader rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-buy
loved it.

some of the opening stories felt like they were set in Toronto. i say this for no other reason than that i'm more than a little obsessed with Toronto right now and liable to read the city's presence into anything at the slightest provocation. and Malla's not actually from Toronto -- he's actually a newfie currently residing in the city of my heart, which makes it that much more interesting. am i being condescending? a little. only because he can handle it.

he's a deft writer, doesn't fo
Mar 26, 2012 Tina rated it really liked it
Recommended to Tina by: Sam
I flew through this collection! I borrowed it from a friend who said I was would like it, and she definitely knows my taste. These stories were sad, tender, honest, thought-provoking, and, at times, hilarious. Interestingly, when I look back at the contents page it's really only the first 5 stories that I found very good; the rest were a little dull, unfortunately. I still really enjoyed the entire collection, though those first four stories were the only truly excellent ones. Malla also touches ...more
Kevin Fanning
Aug 30, 2008 Kevin Fanning rated it liked it
I run a weblog about Pasha Malla, so I guess take as read that I'm a big fan of his writing.

My favorite stories here were: Big City Girls, Pushing Oceans In and Pulling Oceans Out, Dizzy When You Look Down, and Respite (which had this one line in particular: "Sentences spilled into paragraphs spilled into chapters, while on the periphery Adriane came in and out of the apartment like the mechanical bird in a windup clock.")

And I swear I read Pet Therapy somewhere before, but it's not listed as pr
May 28, 2015 Denis rated it really liked it
The Withdrawal Method was longlisted for the 2008 Giller Prize, won the Trillum Book Prize (open to Ontario writers) and also the Writers' Union of Canada's Danuta Gleed Literary Award. And seeing that I've been into short story collections, lately, I was anxious to see what the fuss was about.

Most of the protagonists have withdrawn from their lives, at least temporarily. They've become staid observers of their sobering circumstances and ponder on how they will continue. Throughout there are mom
Apr 16, 2009 John rated it really liked it
See my Bookslut interview for more:

I picked up a copy of Pasha Malla's The Withdrawal Method, and I immediately thought of George Saunders' comedy tempered by a down-to-earth acceptance of reality, almost humility. Malla's stories explore the fantastic aspects of everyday life, from the meanderings of a lonely child and his favorite music teacher in the classroom to the 1980's definition of a latchkey child. And yet none of these become trite in the proce
Lots of dark places of humanity were traversed in this book of short stories. The plumbing was little too deep for me to actually like it, though I acknowledge the mastery of rapid character/plot establishment. Malla has an interesting combination of immaturity/maturity in his tone. May have something to do with his use of adverbs and frequent delving into minds of children.
Jun 28, 2015 Maria rated it really liked it
I was impressed by the sheer range displayed in this debut collection of short stories. Most of the stories are written in first-person, realistic mode, evoking relationship dramas at various life stages. "Long Short Short Long" and "Respite" were my favorites in this category. In "Pulling Oceans In and Pulling Oceans Out" he like, totally nails the voice of a preadolescent girl. "Being Like Bulls," with its dystopian theme park setting, is reminiscent of George Saunders. In "The Love Life of th ...more
Aug 10, 2009 Allison rated it liked it
I enjoyed this collection, although I found it a bit uneven and I really think it's a stretch to compare it to Lorrie Moore (but I love Lorrie Moore in a sort of unnatural unlimited almost-creepy way, so...). A few of the stories seem unnaturally truncated, a sort of "if I end it right now it will seem daring and post-modern in a resisting-closure sort of way" which I just found frustrating. I love the Niagara Falls story -- actually as the collection went on the stories got better. There's a lo ...more
Nov 03, 2009 Suzanne rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian
A very diverse and engrossing collection of stories. I completely devoured the first story "The Slough" (about a girl wanting to literally and metaphorically shed her skin) in one sitting while having lunch by myself at a local pub. Needless to say, my fries were rather cold by the time I finished reading.

While I found most of the tales to be spot-on fantastic, a few of the longer selections seemed to drag on somewhat for me, such as "Being Like Bulls" and "The Love Life of the Automaton Turk."
Nov 08, 2014 Joanna rated it liked it
I've never been much of a fan of short stories and these weren't my favourite, although they were well written. My favourite from this collection is Pet Therapy.
May 01, 2015 Ian rated it really liked it
Stellar inagural collection by Toronto author Malla, who possesses a finely tuned, utterly contemporary voice. The world of these stories is off-beat and unpredictable. It's a place where relationships between men and women are more likely to be strained and broken than not. The author's great strength is writing compelling narratives that flow smoothly toward conclusions that surprise and satisfy. Mostly, these stories are about men and women failing to connect. Written with humour and compassi ...more
Jun 15, 2014 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i became obsessed with the newness of malla's voice and put the book down, enamored and caught in a reverie that sustained me but also caused my attention span to atrophy. with renewed gusto i embarked on the remainder of the stories in this collection in an afternoon and early evening, stories that come back to me when walking or waiting in line at the grocery store.
Stephanie Spines
Apr 22, 2012 Stephanie Spines rated it it was ok
Shelves: own
I liked this collection of quirky short stories although I must admit, I did skip Timber on the Wheel of Everyone because I found it really boring in comparison to the others. I enjoyed most of the others. I love and hate short stories because they always end abruptly, making you wish you got to know the characters a bit better, but Malla does them well.
Jul 12, 2010 Bullet rated it it was amazing
I think Pasha Malla is going to be one of the next great post-modern(?) authors, and I have been eager to find more of his stories. The stories in The Withdrawal Method are disturbing and subtle, and oddly relate-able. I was excited to find this collection of shorts, and I am excited to explore more of Malla's works. Keep an eye out for this guy.
Eric Jeffery
Sep 19, 2012 Eric Jeffery rated it really liked it
yep really liked it - contemporary canadian suburbia literature. my favourite stories were the ones that were a little bit dystopian, like the one about smashing tacky gift shops in a post-apocalyptic niagara falls, or the first story "The SLoughing" about a couple that takes chinese medicine to help get over cancer.
Sep 20, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Wow, that story about basketball bored me so hard I almost stopped reading this halfway through. Fortunately, I kept going because "The Love Life of the Automaton Turk" was awesome. Actually, except for the basketball story, I quite enjoyed all of these stories. More or less.
Aug 09, 2011 Brett added it
Loved it, loved it, loved it. For a first collection, I was quite impressed by the breadth of subject matter and tone to this intriguing short stories, and can only HOPE that his first novel contains one TENTH of the inventiveness and beauty of writing. Kudos!
Jill B
Jul 01, 2009 Jill B rated it it was amazing
An unexpected book!! A book club choice. The author is a friend of a friend. I loved it. The stories are odd, sometimes messed up. They don't necessarily flow from one to the other, but I loved them all! I was sold by the first one. I wanted a novel! So great.
Mar 30, 2010 Christy rated it it was ok
So this was a very bizzare bunch of stories. they were a bit dark & depressing view of human nature but somehow like a car wreck, strangely intriguing.
Dec 15, 2008 Alexis rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book, but I just couldn't get into it. Malla has some beautiful characters and description, but it just fell flat for me...
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Pasha Malla was born in St. John's, Newfoundland and raised in London, Ontario. He attended Concordia University in Montreal as a graduate student.

His debut book, The Withdrawal Method, a collection of short stories, won the Trillium Book Award and the Danuta Gleed Literary Award, as well as being shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize and longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. One of his sho
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