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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

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  902 Ratings  ·  135 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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Jan 27, 2010 ModCloth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mike Ingram
Jul 13, 2012 Mike Ingram rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
An Tran
Jun 12, 2012 An Tran rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Dec 25, 2013 Kasey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Ethel Rohan
May 23, 2011 Ethel Rohan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 12, 2009 Tara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 20, 2015 Jen rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
This is a gorgeous collection of short stories that all take place in and around various bodies of water. Most of the stories explore independence from the people we love, in various ways: people who want to be free but can't leave their loved ones; people who have lost loved ones and aren't sure they like their freedom; people who choose to walk away; people who choose to stay though a part of them wants to walk away. They also explore themes of searching, usually for mythical creatures or thin ...more
Heather Shaw
Nov 18, 2009 Heather Shaw rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 28, 2014 Anita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 18, 2009 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stories, 2009
"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
Jan 16, 2013 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Emily Bowles
So beautiful--Laura van den Berg made me realize I enjoy reading short stories. Some of the emotional space she covers--and the observations she makes about her characters flaws, especially in terms of perception and communication--is absolutely mind blowing in a Virginia Woolf kind of way.
Jacki Donnelly
May 20, 2009 Jacki Donnelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Christopher Alonso
Apr 05, 2014 Christopher Alonso rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
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.
Oct 31, 2009 Dzanc rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"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.

Dec 28, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
A superb collection of stories, more like 4.5 stars than 4. What a terrific way to end my reading year!
Jan 01, 2010 Jcmagill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Several variation on the theme of pursuit. Each story is an evening read. I am still thinking about what it means.
Feb 10, 2016 Thekelburrows rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pitch-perfect stories that artfully capture the complexity and nuance of everyday life and relationships.
Vivienne Strauss
Every story in this book was incredible!
Dec 10, 2009 Elaine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 19, 2010 Ti rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
I enjoyed this well enough. I was expecting the book to be a bit closer to magical realism, but it was closer to standard literary fiction with a touch of the numinous. Also, the Author Appeal is strong in this book. Not only is the theme of water significant in each story, but there were so many recurring themes/motifs that it began to feel a little ridiculous. Like Taco Bell: The Book, it's a handful of the same ingredients in different arrangements, like the author can't help but come back to ...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
Jan 19, 2014 Caro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Michael Beeman
Mar 21, 2012 Michael Beeman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, a legendary creature haunting the rainy season of Africa, and the mapinguary -the “Sasquatch of Brazil”- all make appearances in this slim volume (only to name a few). But Van den Berg counters the fantastic elements in her stories with tragic characters, undercutting the darkness with comedy, merging both together and wringing out an amazing amount of emotional weight.

One would think that with stories so similar in subject and theme van den Berg's collection wou
Jan 07, 2015 Suellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Laura van den Berg book. I saw that I had two of her books (What the World Will Look Like and Find Me) on my to-be-read list. I believe that both of those books got high recommendations from Book Riot. I chose to read What the World Will Look Like first. That was a totally arbitrary decision by the way. It had nothing to do with anything other than the luck of the draw.

What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us is collection of stories that appear to have a comm
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short stories 1 6 Jun 28, 2010 09:32AM  
  • Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing
  • How They Were Found
  • This Is Not Your City
  • May We Shed These Human Bodies
  • In the Devil's Territory
  • Once the Shore
  • Music Through the Floor
  • Tunneling to the Center of the Earth: Stories
  • Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls
  • Tongue Party
  • Safe as Houses
  • Birds of a Lesser Paradise: Stories
  • Flying Leap
  • Death Is Not an Option
  • What He's Poised to Do: Stories
  • More of This World or Maybe Another
  • Famous Fathers and Other Stories
  • AM/PM
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
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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.” 5 likes
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