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What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us
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What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us

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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  595 ratings  ·  103 reviews
""What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us "is a lovely, remarkable book, full of people who strive mightily to believe in things--Bigfoot, the Lochness and Lake Michigan monsters, a tunnel leading to the other side of the world, husbands, wives, lovers, parents--they shouldn't. But Laura van den Berg lets her characters believe, and believes in them, and ...more
ebook, 194 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Dzanc Books
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ModCloth
The day after my 22nd birthday, I had one of those serene, emphatic moments people write about in books. You know when the world around you seems to freeze, and all you’ve ever done in life and all you are going to do, becomes suddenly clear. For me, this moment came while Christmas tree shopping with my parents. In the midst of the New England countryside, all those questions my twenty-something self struggled with so incessantly just didn’t seem to matter anymore. It was a quick, fleeting mome ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I snapped this up after I'd read her first novel. There is a bit of sameness to these stories, but it's almost a challenge of how many of the same elements she can pack in and still make it feel different. Scientist parents, death, and being alone, so alone.

Oh yeah and lake monsters. I will be looking for her other books!

"All bodies of water look the same to me now, places to get lost in."

"I'm only thirty-three and yet I feel like I've been walking the earth for hundreds of years."

If you like br
...more
Mike Ingram
Some of the stories can get a little samey, but that tends to be a risk with story collections, particularly ones like this where the author has made an effort to create thematic links between the stories (explorers, monsters, bodies of water). And to be fair, I read this pretty quickly, whereas with story collections I'll often read one or two at a time.

A lot of really beautiful writing, and stories that manage to be inventive without being gimmicky. That's a tough line to walk, as I've seen so
...more
An Tran
If I was going to define who I want to be as a writer, if I had all of the ability of my dreams, if I could convey my stories in precisely the manner that I have always hoped to, I would say to throw Laura van den Berg, Lauren Groff, and Steven Millhauser into a blender. I don't think this actually sounds so odd.

Laura van den Berg's craft is one of poetic elegance. Readers are immediately haunted by her characters, whose loneliness resonates in tune with every human being's deepest and most priv
...more
Heather Shaw
Laura van den Berg was raised in Florida and earned her MFA at Emerson College. She is the recipient of scholarships from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers' Conferences, the 2009 Julia Peterkin Award, and the 2009-2010 Emerging Writer Lectureship at Gettysburg College. The winner of the Dzanc Prize, Laura’s first collection of stories, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, was published by Dzanc Books in October 2009 and selected by Barnes & Noble as a Holiday Discover ...more
Kasey
I spent most of the day hate-reading this book. Its repetitive structures (of plot, imagery, relationships) were frustrating and plodding. and yet there were occasional moments of sweetness where something genuine peeked out from behind the undergraduate writing-workshop cleverness. Maybe that's why I kept going. van den Berg's stories are variations on a single theme: educated, lonely white woman encounters primitive-mythological (Balinese death mask, Bigfoot, Loch Ness monster). There's always ...more
Rachel
"Up High in the Air," "Where We Must Be" and "Still Life With Poppies" were all stunning, cinematic, enormous, moving without being maudlin - pitch-perfect portraits of desire and loneliness and absurdity. At times I wanted the absurdity to be amplified; van den Berg's language is very straightforward in most stories, and I found myself remembering images more than paragraphs. This line, however, from the end of "The Rain Season" rang in my head for a week:

"I concentrate on the scent, but it van
...more
David
These stories have a perfect mix of the strange and the intimate ordinariness of character lives. Some have more bizarreness than others, but always the right amount. The best aspect of these stories, though, is the subtlety of the emotions. The emotion is always there, and you can always feel exactly what the message is through what the character is feeling, but it isn't crassly articulated. Pressed, I'm not sure I could articulate it myself. Instead, I just sat back after reading each story an ...more
Anita
Beautiful, quiet lonely short stories, often with understated endings. All vaguely astonishing and well written. I read these because I loved The Isle of Youth. The last story in particular caught my attention - I hadn't read any writers other than me who had any sort of fascination with indri and then to my surprise within the last year I read the last story of this collection and an Anna Kavan novel, both of which featured indri. In this one, the indri were motifs, more for atmosphere than a c ...more
Bryn ((B2/B.P))   Ryeosomniac~~
This is the first book I have won through Goodreads give away, thanks Goodreads This was a quick and easy read, which I enjoyed a lot.

Iloved it how in such a small amount of time the author could make you really feel for the characters. On the downside since there is only a small amount of time, there are many unanswered questions at the end of each story.

All up this was a really good read, and I am looking forward to seeing what Laura Van den Berg does next.
Ethel Rohan
This is an extraordinary story collection that remains on the ever-growing stack of 'books I love' on my writing desk. Laura van den Berg is a skilled storyteller with a keen and compassionate eye. I read riveted, loving the strange and wonderful places van den Berg's stories took me and the deeply human lives they showed me. I returnto these rich, imaginative stories often, both for the pleasure as a reader and for the instruction and inspiration as a writer.
Bridget
Solid three stars, I'd say. The stories all contained elements of broken relationships and heartbreak, and water as well. It's actually hard to say if water is a theme throughout the stories because I picked that up, or if I thought it was a theme because it's mentioned in the title. I can't tell if this is a good collection of stories or not. Good room for interpretation or just lack of themes?

However, the remaining feeling after reading this book a few weeks ago is simply... meh. It's not tha
...more
Christopher Alonso
Damn, what a great collection of stories. Two themes I loved in this one -- the presence of water in every story, whether it's a lake, the sea, the rain, and the sense of wanting, whether it's wanting to be someone else or somewhere else. I'm definitely going to read more of her work.
Jacki Donnelly
What a great first book for Laura! I am so excited for her as a friend and as an author. The stories in her book were unique and adventureous! The characters were complex and developed. She makes you feel for their sorrows and share in their joy. I cannot wait to read her next novel
Dzanc
A BARNES AND NOBLE DISCOVER GREAT NEW WRITERS OFFICIAL 2009 HOLIDAY SELECTION.

"van den Berg taps into her characters’ losses with an impressive clarity."
—Publishers Weekly

"Stunning, desolate, and unforgettable."
—Booklist (starred review)
Latanya Mcqueen
I knew of Laura's name before I ever met her, and I've been following her work in journals for quite some time. I'm excited for her collection coming out by Dzanc press and look forward to reading it.

Tara
I envy the fact that this author found her voice at such a young age--sophisticated, smart, worldly, but tender, too. I look forward to her next book.
Jcmagill
Several variation on the theme of pursuit. Each story is an evening read. I am still thinking about what it means.
Sarah
A superb collection of stories, more like 4.5 stars than 4. What a terrific way to end my reading year!
Caro
I most say that Laura van den berg has an strange effect in me. At the beginning I felt disappointed and I gave a 3 starts review to the book. But after a while the stories started to make a different effect in me and I saw them under a different perspective, that is why I change my rating from 3 to 4 there magic became later. I love to read short stories, and these ones started good, the main theme of all of them are broken women, having to take decisions that will change their lives 180 degree ...more
Torea Frey
I joined the Dzanc e-book club, and this book was one of a bundle of five that came with the subscription. The stories themselves are up my alley -- cryptozoology! Multiple references to primatology! -- but I found it quite hard to focus on the narrative structure because the e-book was edited so poorly.

For example, in "We are calling to offer you a fabulous life," there are multiple references to a noise machine the protagonist uses to calm herself. But once, it is referred to as a "nose machin
...more
Ben Thurley
Over all, quite a strong and affecting collection of short stories. These are stories of loss and identity, women seeking connection and escape, where emotionally resonant moments are sketched nicely and a handful of engaging characters are crafted, although more than a few will be quickly forgotten. Laura van den Berg's writing is often very graceful and catching, but occasionally just a little overwritten.

This tightly constructed and compelling encapsulation of the narrator's husband in "The R
...more
Elaine
My review as appears in The Short Review.

How amazing and ironic that these stories invoking vast bodies of water – the Loch Ness, the Atlantic, the Mozambique Channel, Lake Michigan (at its deepest, it’s a 1000 feet, did you know?) – should contain characters with such deep thirst. In the title story, a mother goes in search of lemurs while a teenage daughter tries to figure out what she wants to do with her life. In Inverness, a scientist tracking down near-extinct twin flowers (the linnaea bor
...more
Ti
The Short of It:

What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us is a gem of a little book. Filled with stories about women who don’t settle, yet struggle to find their place in society. Honest and thoughtful in her delivery, van den Berg creates a world where beauty exists in everyday things.

The Rest of It:

How do I share the feeling that I am feeling right at this moment? Well, let’s give it a shot.

There are many wonderful stories in this collection and although each story contains it
...more
Seth
One of the most quickly engaging collections of short stories I've seen in a while. Her prose is so unpretentious while getting at such slippery, important stuff: a rare combination in short stories such as these. Amazing how she can keep each story fresh and breathing while they all share so much: a youngish narrator who is lonely (though several are told in third-person) and looking for something huge that's missing. Scientists pop up quite a bit, as does the search for monsters. So full of he ...more
Lindsey Kate Sloan
An excellent first collection. The theme of expansive water and its dangers, tie these stories together. At times these stories felt too closely tied, as if only the stetting changed from story to story. Stories containing water monsters followed each other, which made the details hard to distinguish and separate. At times her narrators also felt as if they were recycled from story to story. I got the feeling that her narrators could share clothes, pants even. At the eye of each story was a woma ...more
Elizabeth
This one's by a fellow grad of my MFA program... I’m a little late to the party –this collection has been lauded all over the place since it came out in late 2009: The book was a 2009 holiday selection for the Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” Program, shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor Award, and long-listed for The Story Prize.
There’s a quiet sorrow in all of these stories, which have in common themes of loss and loneliness, despite their disparate geographic settings. (Van den
...more
Bret Quinn
Van den berg is a remarkable talent, this collection was short-listed for the Frank O'Connor Award after its publication. Her characters are realistic, flawed, and human, her characters searching for redemption, many times without realizing it. She combines themes of separation with exploration (internal and eternal) and only van den berg can accomplish this in a story about a Bigfoot actor.
Ampersand Books
"It was late, 4 A.M., and I’d just finished the story for the third time. I turned back to the title page, “We Are Calling to Offer You a Fabulous Life,” and just sat there, not thinking of anything in particular. Instead, I sat there in the sleeping house, doing my best to chain-smoke myself into a coma, and rolled the feeling of the story back and forth. It was smooth and delicate, with just the right pacing, nothing too high or low. It was the delicacy that grabbed me. Laura van den Berg cert ...more
Jodi
Laura van den Berg writes beautifully. Her sentences and paragraphs feel like gauzy, ethereal dreams. It’s the kind of writing that seems effortless which means it probably took great amounts of effort. She populates the stories of What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us with people on quests for mythical creatures — bigfoot, Nessie the Loch Ness monster, Mishegenabeg (a monster said to inhabit Lake Michigan) –which adds to this dreamlike quality. But make no mistake these peo ...more
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short stories 1 6 Jun 28, 2010 09:32AM  
  • Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing: Stories
  • This Is Not Your City
  • How They Were Found
  • May We Shed These Human Bodies
  • In the Devil's Territory
  • Once the Shore
  • The Shell Collector: Stories
  • Tunneling to the Center of the Earth: Stories
  • Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories
  • Birds of a Lesser Paradise: Stories
  • Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls
  • Tongue Party
  • Safe as Houses
  • Volt
  • AM/PM
  • Diving Belles
  • Music Through the Floor
  • Death Is Not an Option: Stories
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Laura van den Berg's debut story collection, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, a finalist for ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year award, longlisted for The Story Prize, and shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Award. Her second collection of stories, The Isle of Youth, is forthcoming from Farrar, ...more
More about Laura van den Berg...
The Isle of Youth: Stories There Will Be No More Good Nights Without Good Nights Find Me Glimmer Train Stories, #88 American Short Fiction Vol.13 Issue 47 Spring 2010

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“Winds shake the leaves and for a moment I smell smoke. I concentrate on the scent, but it vanishes into the aroma of rain and tree bark, the way one life can collapse into another and different people can stir within the same body, like bats thrashing inside a secret hollow.” 4 likes
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