For a brief moment, as the world-altering realities of life during a pandemic sank into the pit of my stomach as the new normal, I struggled with whether or not I should stick to the original release date for my new short story collection And Then We Vanish. But it quickly became the least of my worries, and so, April 7th 2020 was going to be the release date whether we liked it or not, and now here we are. And we have not vanished.
Eleven tales made up of old and new stories curated from over a decade or work, And Then We Vanish represents literary fiction with a twist. The stories are married to the theme of people vanishing or wanting to vanish. Most of the stories are dark, but apart from many of the characters wanting to escape their lives, and a few meeting their untimely demise, the stories are connected with strains of hope. When faced with bizarre events, trauma, and the absurd, most of these characters find ways to survive and move on.
I hope that we can all do the same in the wake of recent real-world events.
I’m excited to announce the upcoming release, April 7th 2020, of my new short story collection.
Eleven twisting tales curated from nearly a decade of work, And Then We Vanish features five new stories and six previously published stories.
In these stories we encounter characters who are victims of their own poor decisions and of chance, like a young boy under the threat of a local kidnapping scare who starts to realize the truth about himself and his father one fateful Halloween, a woman in the midst of a midlife crisis whose dog keeps running away from her, a disgraced college professor who becomes entangled with his down-and-out neighbors outside of Atlantic City, and a lonely person who wanders Niagara Falls at night imagining their escape with a mysterious stranger.
These characters might be longing to disappear or left behind by those who already have, and their stories challenge us to connect with them while they navigate the waves of mystery, violence, and the absurd that filter into their everyday lives.
Discover Eleven Ways to Vanish in the Following Tales:
The Pumpkin Thief – new
The Ballerina in Battery Park – originally published in Scratch Anthology: Volume 3
Upon the Unfortunate News of My Death – new
Boko Haram’s Greatest Hits – originally published in A Million and One Magazine
Anthrax and Cherry Blossoms – originally published in A Million and One Magazine
Somebody You Used to Know – new
Blue Heather – new
Down Gallow’s Way – originally published in Red Moon District by Underground Voices
Wild Horses – new
When Night Falls on Niagara – originally published in Eunoia Review
Night of the Spider – originally published in The Stone Digital Literary Magazine
What lengths would one go for love…or in war? Cataclysmic outside events thrust unlikely people together…torn from their privacy to create new intamicies…in secret…but in service for something larger…a delicate, romantic spy game that could determine the fates of strangers in strange lands just as much as it could the fate of the ones you most love.
In his masterpiece The English Patient, Canada’s titan of literary fiction, Michael Ondaatje described a novel as a “mirror walking down the road.” In his latest novel, Warlight, which mirrors many of the themes of his best, he describes a memoir as “the lost inheritance”. Warlight is a novel written as if it was a memoir, and the light it casts on the shadowy lives of those left picking up the pieces in the aftermath of World War II will leave one shaken as equally by Ondaatje’s craft as by the fates of the characters. It would make a cracker jack film or miniseries, you know, if someone skillful enough could dissect it, reassemble it, and focus the whole thing on the shocking soap opera-like revelation at the end…the twist of fate…the sad realization of what the consequences of one’s actions and youthful indiscretions could be. Continue reading →
The Proctor Boys are a strange lot – three grizzled old men who have spent their entire lives in stifling isolation on a dairy farm in Upstate New York. When the eldest, Vernon, winds up dead one morning in the bed all three shared, the youngest, Creed, gets swept up into accusation while the emotionally crippled simpleton (and middle brother), Audie, barely grasps the gravity of the situation.
Jon Clinch’s second novel, Kings of the Earth, was inspired by actual events. Clearly fashioning himself a 21st century William Faulkner, Clinch spans his book across generations and voices. Each chapter is titled by a year and a character’s name – with POV’s shifting from 1st person to 2nd person to 3rd person, but never omniscient – eerily reminiscent of Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury. Those not familiar with the style may find it a challenge, while fans of Faulkner will probably favor it as a nice homage, but it pales in comparison to the master. This isn’t to say Clinch hasn’t achieved something memorable nearing mythic stature here. Continue reading →
Michael Ondaatje’s “Divisadero” tells the tale of Anna, her adopted sister Claire, and their father’s farmhand Coop, growing up in the poetic splendor of their California homestead. After scandal and tragedy separate the three, Anna eventually ends up in France years later researching the life story of a French novelist and poet, Lucien Segura, who found fame, fortune, and heartbreak in the years surrounding WWI.
Ondaatje (best known for penning “The English Patient”) has a fluid and emotional writing style that is as wondrous and evocative as it is frustrating. The casual reader might find themselves lost or distracted by dialog without quotation marks, arbitrary flashbacks, shifting POV’s, and stories within stories that fold in on themselves and only relate to other characters through mere coincidence. Ondaatje creates a vivid sense of place with both Californian wine country and rural France, but often times a reader might forget where they are and be left wondering what happened to a certain character who had been a focus for so long.
“Divisadero” sometimes reads like a collection of short stories where a few of the characters or settings overlap. There’s no central plot, and the prose meanders to no solid conclusion. Ondaatje populates the novel with thematic repetition (fathers uncovering secrets of their grown daughters, men wishing they were carefree boys again, love triangles) and character foils that make it an endlessly interesting read for those with the patience for his literary style. The book, though at times maddening, is full of small moments, captured with great clarity of vision, that add up to something ponderous that is beyond the scope of any words.