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Vanishing and Other Stories

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  302 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews

A French teacher who collects fiancÉs; a fortune-teller who fails to predict the heartbreak of her own daughter; an aging cowboy seduced by a city girl . . . these are some of the unforgettable people who live in these pages.

In Vanishing and Other Stories, secrets are both kept and unearthed, and lives are shaped by missing lovers, parents, and children. With wisdom an

Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 17th 2010 by Harper Perennial (first published May 12th 2009)
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Jun 18, 2010 eb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Holy God, can Deborah Willis write.

Her sentences are jewels, her paragraphs are necklaces--but nothing feels belabored or effortful. There's nothing extra, nothing boring, nothing fatty--but it's all delicious and rich. In the plainest language, Willis surprises. She never shows off. She's always original.

I wonder if this little excerpt will get the gist across:

"Your mother will visit once in these twenty-three years, when you fly her out to meet your Italian and his two sons. She will sit in y
Simone Subliminalpop
Notevole l’esordio di Deborah Willis (autrice lodata anche da una pietra miliare come Alice Munro). Un libro compatto, sicuro, essenziale, e uno stile conscio, chiaro e scorrevolissimo (dove spesso si gioca con l’intreccio dei tempi o dei piani narrativi).
Le vicende che vanno a comporre i quattordici racconti della raccolta, sono molto vari nei nuclei che le compongono (giovani coppie, padri e figlie, etc.), ma sono tutte fortemente legate tra di loro, come da titolo, perché c’è sempre qualcuno
Lydia Presley
Aug 21, 2010 Lydia Presley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There may have been a little bit of magic in this book.

VANISHING and OTHER STORIES is a collection of short stories written by Deborah Willis. Every story deals with an absence of some sort; a missing father, a dead wife, a lover parted, childhood lost.

The writing in this book is phenomenal. Incredibly beautiful and moving and by the time I finished each short story I felt as if I'd been sucked into some kind of time warp and, in the process of just a few real-time minutes, read a novel of depth
Massimiliano Laviola
Ho scelto questa raccolta di racconti dopo aver letto una bella recensione sul blog di Paolo Cognetti. Li ho trovati originali e scritti in maniera lineare. Si parla di persone, sentimenti, ricordi che svaniscono e di cosa resta. Il succo sta nell'incipit del racconto "Affidarsi" che dice: “La gente semplicemente scompare. Mia moglie se n’è andata. Mia madre ha raggiunto una vecchiaia robusta. E mia figlia la vedo solo raramente.”
Molti hanno paragonato lo stile di DW alla Munro. Credo sia vero
Tricia Dower
Jun 10, 2013 Tricia Dower rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just finished this book from a talented young writer who parlayed a job at Munro's Bookstore a few blocks from my house into an introduction to Penguin by Jim Munro (Alice's ex) and a front cover endorsement by Alice Munro herself. The stories are beautifully rendered and I found one of them to be brilliant: "Caught" starts out, "There's more than one way it could go," and tells the story entirely in the subjunctive. Another favorite was the story of two sisters whose parents are separated; one ...more
FINALLY finished this one. I started it quite a while ago and then had to put it aside for more pressing things (we're publishing it in september), but I always ached to get back to it. I even re-read the first three stories, just to completely re-immerse myself in it. Although it was way less magical realism-y, the writing reminded me a bit of that of Kevin Wilson, who I love. If you like short stories and everything they stand for, you'll love this collection.
Sep 24, 2010 Gina rated it it was ok
I read only the first four stories. Although I enjoyed the writing I found the stories very gloomy. I must be an optimist as I wish the characters had more insight and could create something positive from their situations. However I do appreciate the realism.
Samantha Warwick
Jul 29, 2015 Samantha Warwick rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, accomplished writing style. Compelling characters and x-ray insight into human nature. Can't wait for her next book.
Rachel Sparling
Oct 09, 2016 Rachel Sparling rated it it was amazing
Every sentence is crafted with care. Every sentence holds something. Each story tells us something about ourselves and how we view the world.

This book is so brilliantly written and unique. Characterized by its quirky yet realistic feel spread across a series of short stories this book is truly a work of art.

This book has something to catch and keep any ready and I would highly recommend it to anyone.
Sep 01, 2010 Zoë rated it it was amazing
"To let go, to disappear, to forget himself. To exist in another’s skin, and then- on the long drive home- to return to himself, with another’s knowledge. To escape. It was the only way to live."

Vanishing and Other Stories is a collection of short stories by Canadian writer Deborah Willis. The book was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction and contains fourteen stories, each approximately twenty pages and dealing with some sort of absence, maybe physical or maybe emo
Nov 23, 2014 Donna rated it it was amazing
Every once in a while I'll come across a book with such stunning writing that when I get to the end of it I can't help but heave a great big sigh of relief. There is hope. There is talent. There are WORDS.

I like reading anthologies but they're usually a compendium of stories from different writers so each work is, by default, going to be different. Different styles, different prose, different methods. Personally I find it a lot harder for an author to write a single anthology composed entirely o
Jennifer Rayment
Aug 05, 2010 Jennifer Rayment rated it liked it
These are the hardest books for me to review, as I am not the most cerebral women in the world. But hey I do know what cerebral means, and I didn't have to spell check it, so I am not completely without intelligence. The writers are fantastic, I do get that, but their stories are just not my thing, and I don't want my review to discourage someone from reading their work. At the same time, I cannot give the book a high rating, if I really didn't enjoy it. Just wanted to give you a heads up and ...more
Oct 06, 2011 T.Y. rated it liked it
I can't believe I've never heard of Deborah Willis before. She is truly a force to be reckoned with. The first story was a bit lack luster, but I saw some promise, and once I continued reading, I could not stop. Even though this is a series of short stories, each story seemed to build momentum and force. Willis is amazing. I can't think of enough positive adjectives to describe her writing.

Also, what I liked best about this anthology is that it was cohesive. There was a clear recognizable link i
Apr 26, 2012 Angela rated it liked it
This book was full of short stories that covered all emotions. I do not usually read books made up of short stories because I feel they lack details of the story. This book was pretty good and I did enjoy reading it for the most part. The book itself was not bad, the stories were well written, it just is not my type of book. I read a book to enjoy plot lines, details, and closure…I just feel short stories don’t do these things very well because they are so short. Not a whole lot to tell about ...more
Sep 15, 2010 Staci rated it really liked it
Recommended to Staci by: TLC Tour Book
Shelves: tlc-tour, 2010-reads
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 seriousl
Sep 08, 2010 Nely rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-review
What a sad, unnerving, yet touching and memorable set of short stories. I cant' really say that I am fond of short stories - although I must confess, that as of late, they have been growing on me more and more.

These 14 stories have a common thread - someone or something is missing. It could be the absence of a loved one or the death of a significant other, even the loss of something - in the end someone vanishes and someone is left behind. These are the stories of those who stay, how they live
Steven Langdon
Vanishing is another nominee for the Governor-General's English Fiction Prize, and certainly for me is a first introduction into the impressive short story writing of Deborah Willis. Alice Munro, the present star of Canadian short story literature, praises Willis highly on the front cover, and one can understand Munro's appreciation for the quotidian themes and poised style that mirror her own work. This is, mind you, a new and younger generation whose lives Willis probes so well, drawn more ...more
Jun 25, 2011 G rated it really liked it
Being a huge pop culture junkie, the first thing that pops into my mind to describe this book is that it is dark and twisty, like Meredith and Cristina on Grey’s Anatomy. I am a dark and twisty girl, which is why I can appreciate dark and twisty stories. If you are a bright and shiny girl, I’m not 100% sure this book is for you. But keep reading, I may be able to convince you to go to the dark side.

Vanishing and Other Stories is a gripping and gloomy collection of 14 short stories, carefully wov
Sep 13, 2010 Jennifer rated it really liked it
From my book review blog Rundpinne. (4.5 stars)

"Vanishing and Other Stories by Deborah Willis is a beautiful and emotional composition of short stories linked together with a common theme of loss. While not one to usually enjoy short stories, I found myself unable to put the book down as I greedily went from one story to the next in eager anticipation. Willis’ use of prose is both lyrical and deeply emotional, moving the reader in each of her fourteen stories, with the commonality of something
Oct 06, 2011 Kasandra rated it liked it
This collection of stories is very well-connected. By that, I mean the thread of "Vanishing" appears in every story in some way. On the positive side, this makes the stories hang together as a collection. On the other hand, by the end of the book, I felt like the "pow" had gone out of the stories, and I was reading the same basic voice over and over. Though some of these really impressed me (The Weather, Escape, Traces, Remember, Relive), not a few of these left me cold (This Other Us, The ...more
Morninglight Mama
What a talent it takes to create a vivid picture of multidimensional characters in only a few pages. Without the advantage of a novel's many chapters, these stories are simply snapshots of a moment, a conflict, a fear, a love, a mistake. While completely separate entities, these stories are threaded with common themes and with similar mannerisms, often transitioning between periods of time in the characters' lives, providing important or relevant snippets of information or experiences that help ...more
Dec 28, 2009 Alice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alice by: Shelley Kryger
Shelves: 2009
The only reason I read this book is because Deborah Willis went to camp with my friend. That said this was a great read and has completely turned me on to short stories. I have a whole list of other short story books to work through now.

I really liked the majority of these stories, but as I imagine is the case with any collection of short stories, some are going to seem better or weaker depending on the reader. The title story of “Vanishing” was definitely very strong, and I also would list “Thi
Shonna Froebel
I noted the blurb by Alice Munro on the cover of this book: "The emotional range and depth of these stories, the clarity and deftness, is astonishing." And the promise conveyed in that sentence was not disappointed. This is a very engaging collection of stories that all surprised me in some way and made me read more closely.
Willis brings out so many realistic stories from so many disparate characters that I am indeed astonished. I have always loved short stories, but these really grabbed me. Th
Jul 30, 2011 M rated it really liked it
This collection of unique stories tackles how people deal with losses of the human kind. Each situation brings us into a tiny window of humanity, and how that person reacts to absence. A farm girl's teenage friend works her way into her divorced father's life - then his bed - before leaving town. A prominent writer steps out of the house and into thin air, leaving his wife and forcing his daughter to seek out her own way. A wife who is losing her husband to another woman uses alcohol to get the ...more
May 13, 2011 Patty rated it really liked it
I am not sure how to write about this book. It was wonderful, but that word does not seem adequate. Each story was clearly independent from the other stories and all of them were amazing. I was blown away by the title story, by Traces, by Frank, by most of the collection. I found myself going back, trying to figure out how Willis put her words together. She seemed able to take English, the language I have always spoken and show me new ways to string words together.

I am eagerly expecting Deborah
May 02, 2013 Ffiamma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
raccolta di racconti in cui viene esplorato e sviscerato il tema della sparizione di qualcuno di importante. che sia una morte, una fuga, una perdita di coscienza o di memoria- l'autrice, con uno stile semplice e preciso, ci mostra il punto di rottura causato dal vuoto e gli effetti (anche nel lungo periodo) provocati dallo spaesamento e dalla mancanza di equilibrio. libro molto triste e, a tratti, molto bello- anche se i racconti di alice munro (a cui è stato paragonato) hanno un altro spessore ...more
Luigi Cecchi
May 18, 2014 Luigi Cecchi rated it really liked it
Ho letto il libro nella traduzione di Paola Del Zoppo/Anna Baldini (Del Vecchio Editore) e l'ho trovato molto interessante. Alcuni racconti sono estremamente "intimi" anche dal punto di vista della narrazione, e costringono il lettore a porre molta attenzione al testo per non rischiare di perdere parte del significato, soprattutto quando l'autrice dà per scontato che il lettore abbia sviluppato una certa "empatia" con i protagonisti o sia già entrato pienamente nella dimensione del racconto. Una ...more
Jan 13, 2011 Sara rated it really liked it
This woman can write. She messes with POV (writes in second person in more than one of her stories, which is so hard to do well) and deals with some uncomfortable ideas of sex (across vast age gaps, for example), but she manages to do it in a way where you find yourself completely on board, thinking of course that's the way the story had to be written. I was torn between giving this book 4 or 5 stars, and the subject matter was what pushed it down to 4. The writing alone would easily get a 5. I ...more
Oct 05, 2010 Cindy rated it really liked it
I am giving it four stars because I'm a fan of short stories. I wait every year for the "Best Short Stories of 20____). Even if you're not a fan you might appreciate the tag that describes the book: "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."
I would read a story over lunch and enjoyed them all. Maybe 3-1/2 but entertaining, thought provoking.
Jan 23, 2011 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
A collection of beautiful, sad, lonely moments. Could not put the book down if I was in the middle of one of the stories - I needed to know how each and every one wrapped up. I'm typically not a fan of short stories, since they always feel unfinished to me. These were all 100% satisfying. Felt like opening windows on different people's lives and visiting for a while. Completely delightful from start to finish.
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Deborah Willis was born and raised in Calgary, AB. Her fiction has appeared in Grain, Event, Prism International, and The Walrus. Her first book, Vanishing and Other Stories, was named one of the the Globe and Mail's Best Books of 2009, and was nominated for the BC Book Prize and the Governor General's Award. She has worked as a horseback riding instructor, a reporter, and a bookseller. She was a ...more
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“We were talking about The Bell Jar, because we were sixteen, and we wanted to be depressed in New York.” 6 likes
“She wasn't the kind of girl who would come when called.” 4 likes
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