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How We Disappear

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Member Reviews

The common theme behind the seemingly different stories is quite obvious once every individual scene is visited. I really enjoyed the stories, and the overall read was surprisingly quick for the depth of content. I would highly recommend this author for fans of short story collections.

What you can’t see in the picture
An interesting take on a woman who can identify people and facial characteristics with brilliant accuracy. She lives in a world behind the screen, and she lets us in on one important story that she has helped with. ( 3 stars)

This was a more abrupt narrative of a possibly missing person chasing dreams. Although it produces some interesting imagery, it was not very satisfying, especially on the heels of the previous story. (2 stars)

Fleeing Gravity
A man born between cultures and trying to make his own place in the world he has to inhabit. A little sad, but eventually believable and well written. (3 stars)

How do you thank a river?
A wandering tough life which depends on the grace of nature to let one survive. A little short but impactful. (3 stars)

A woman who has lived an isolated life even amongst so many people that she knows and who know her. Until one day, a man makes a move she never assumed would be directed towards her. It is a proper romantic tale. (4 stars)

Agatha: A life in unauthorized fragments
I do not know how much of this is factually based on Agatha Christie’s life, but it does portray a vary intriguing person, and I liked the format, fleeting though it was. (4 stars)

Bird Man
A man who was lost on foreign soil is hunted down by his daughter. In the process, we get to peek at the normal life of the people who had to live through a war in one form or another and its effects on them. (3 stars)

Billy Said this really happened to Lucy
A woman/girl loses her mother and ends up hearing from her shortly after. (3 stars)

In a Sulphate Mist
A woman travels to a remote location to meet a date and a highly unusual one it turns out to be! (4 stars)

Those who have gone
A woman finds new beginnings in a remote location, although it may feel like a repetitive theme through this book, They are all not the same. This has a significant amount of retrospection involved as well. (4 stars)

If you had stopped
A short chapter on the life of a roadside fish vendor. (4 stars)

Notes to The World
A new hunter stumbles across notes left behind in an abandoned cabin. The notes detail a life led in the area a long time ago. (4 stars)

An Aura surrounds that night
I do not know why this chapter alone was labelled a novella since it is not much longer than a couple of other stories. A troubled family is more than meets the eye as we realise once the perception shifts. There is no conclusion to the piece, leaving the reader to decide which was the truth.

I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.

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My thanks to Press 53 for a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

Having read and loved Tara Lynn Masih’s novel My Real Name is Hanna (a piece of historical fiction that I highly recommend), when I saw this collection of short stories on NetGalley, I of course had to read it. How We Disappear is a set of twelve short stories and a novella which are all separate (in fact set in different places with different themes and characters), and yet share the theme of disappearance—each in a different way (of people, of connect, of love, etc). Most have a note of melancholy to them, but most also do leave us with a feeling of hope—sometimes of happiness and better times, at others, simply peace with what is. In fact, letting go or making peace with the past, either to make a fresh start or simply to carry on is a theme that more than one story touches on. Some even take us into dream-like, fantasy territory. The stories take us to various locations from Siberia to contemporary and historical America, Puerto Rico and Belgium. Beautifully written, both the very short and longer ones are impactful.

While I by and large liked all the stories in the volume, some stood out more than others. The opening story, ‘What You Can’t See in the Picture’ was one of these. This is about a woman with extraordinary facial recognition skills (a super recognizer) who works for the police department and is assigned the case of a missing teen who suffers facial blindness. This powerful story explores the emotional connect formed over fleeting moments between rescuer and rescued which will impact them very differently in their respective lives.

‘Delight’ is the story of a young woman who makes confections for a small shop in her beach town in Puerto Rico, but who has suffered loneliness and neglect in her life, partly because of a disfigurement. We follow her through one very special week in her life, as she makes new sweets each morning (the descriptions make one want to eat these), and meets someone who brings a new ray of light into her life. But is this the real thing?

I also very much liked ‘Agatha: A Life in Unauthorised Fragments’ which traces one of my favourite authors, Agatha Christie’s life through small episodes. Starting with the very disconcerting episode in her childhood when someone pinned a live butterfly to her hat, the effect of which only her mother was able to understand, to her love of music, becoming a VAD and learning about poisons, meeting, marriage and separation from Archie Christie to her love for archaeology and marriage with Max Mallowan, this story gives one a journey through the ups and down of Christie’s life, including the days she mysteriously disappeared. Many of these were familiar to me from her autobiography, but I really enjoyed reading this.

‘Bird Man’ was a beautiful and emotional tale of a bond formed between a woman who visits Belgium to find her pilot father’s grave and the woman in Belgium who she finds has been caring for it. While told from the daughter’s perspective, the story explores the thoughts and burdens both women are carrying.

‘In a Sulfate Mist’ is a story of new love, new bonds; a woman in search of love arrives to meet in real life someone she has ‘met’ online, right in the middle of mayfly season. Thinking through her own doubts and what she believes are signs, she must make up her mind, amid the added complications of the mayflies.

‘If You Had Stopped’ is a very short but heartbreaking story of a woman who sells fresh fish, and the adversities of her everyday life and circumstances which become part of her and her wares. How many such do we pass by each day, and how little we know what they are facing.

‘Notes to the World’ takes us to the Siberian Taiga where a bond of different sort forms between a sable hunter and a woman in whose cabin he takes shelter; only that the cabin itself is empty and he gets to ‘know’ her through some notes she has written and left for someone to find. This story sort of put me in the mind of The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden at one level touching those same themes.

Finally, the novella ‘An Aura Surrounds the Night’ tells the story of two sisters Mercy and Melody, exploring the relationship the two share, family dynamics, and also the theme of loss and how memory (in fact happy memories) is all we have and really need to rely on to cope, to carry on.

All the stories in the volume feature characters one feels for, even empathises with; emotions, bonds, connect are explored between the characters and the people and places they care for, but these are also what the reader feels and develops for them.

A wonderful collection, but one I’d recommend reading spread out perhaps because most of these do tend to go into heavier, emotional territory.

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A breathtakingly written collection of stories that takes the reader into their different worlds and won’t let go. Stories that will stay with the reader even after they close the book. The author has an unique gift of storytelling.

Disclaimer: Thank you to NetGalley and Press 53 for this book, I received a copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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Thanks to NetGalley and publisher for a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review

The stories that make up How We Disappear are exquisitely crafted, evocative, and full of nostalgia and longing for people, places, and dreams not yet fulfilled. These are stories about loss, longing and the desire for a different life, or a different outcome, which is a very common for humanity. There are many “what ifs” hanging in the air, and while many of the characters from these short stories do not get a resolution, there is at times, hope -or at least a sort of closure or resolution.

I will say I struggled to get investment in the three first stories, but after that, I was captivated by the author’s prose and by the depiction of what apparently are common, day to day lives, but hold so much richness and complexity inside. As in many short stories’ collections, some texts are less impactful than others but it’s impossible to deny that Tara Lynn Masih knows how to write and her storytelling is beautiful. I think I had not seen this in quite a long time. I also noted that, unlike a lot of recent fiction I’ve read, Masih’s stories have a purpose -there’s meaning to all what is narrated.

Another aspect I admire is the fact that the author includes a lot of diverse characters, and it never feels forced. I think we speak so much about diversity nowadays but in fiction, I sometimes wonder if diversity is included just because it is the right thing to do, often feeling weak within a story or completely unrelatable. In these stories, I felt there are many backgrounds, social classes and cultural groups understood and depicted within their specific contexts. This to me, shows respect from the author to her characters and to diversity.
My favorites stories were:

• What you can’t see in the picture – A story about a policewoman who can memorize faces and moments and hence, is key in the search of missing people. While physical recognition is import, she has this ability to see beyond that and focus on moments, actions, paths.
• Delight – A moving story about a woman living in Puerto Rico -named Delight- who has a physical imperfection and hence, expects to remain the rest of her life in her bakery, dealing with an alcoholic father. However, a U.S. man will change her life. I found this very touching as we learn from the difficulties Delight has lived through because of her appearance and the loneliness she has endured. She’s not resentful at all, and that what makes her an extraordinary character.
• If you had stopped – I liked this story because I often think about what people in need think about those who are more on the middle-class side. The story is told from the perspective of a woman selling food at the highway and what she thinks about those tourists, drivers, that pass by without looking at her. What difference can buying from someone at the streets do to their lives? It can mean the world and we never might now.
• Bird Man - The story of a woman in search of her father’s grave in Europe. He died in combat during World War II and his body was never repatriated, so she grew up not only missing his father but also having no closure as she was unsure where his remains were.
• Notes to the World – My favorite story in the collection. A hunter in Siberia gets trapped during a thunderstorm and takes refuge in an abandoned cottage, where he finds the diary of a woman who lived previously there. This woman grew in isolation with a family that gave up on the world according to a tradition from the 16TH century. Her writings keep this man alive and when he thought his meaning had no purpose, he found one in her musings.
• An Aura Surround the Night– a sad, moving novella about family and loss in rural America. Two sisters, different and yet very close, face many adventures, hardships included, during their childhood. But one of them goes missing and the family is torn apart. Beautifully written and despite touching on some very dark topics, there’s a glim of hope on it.

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Based on a common theme of ‘disappearance’, How We Disappear is an anthology of twelve short stories and one novella, written in an enigmatic, stirring style that could either be unsettling or liberating to the reader, depending upon the lives they have had. For me, it was a mix of both!

Tara Lynn Masih interprets disappearance uniquely in each of the stories; some disappearances are physical in nature, referring to the death of a character, or their absence, whereas others are metaphorically interpreted - characters on a journey to lose their past lives and rediscover themselves. Each interpretation is distinct and thoughtfully written. Masih’s prose is poetic and has a transcendental quality to it. Her characters and stories, although disjointed, flow with musical ease, forming a bond between them.

Some of these characters and stories remain etched in my mind, and I look forward to revisiting them another time while some are already fogging up, especially the ones that were too small, barely a page or two. These mini stories lacked character development and didn’t draw me to the plot. I also had trouble getting into most of the stories. The story structure was a little unusual without a clear-cut beginning, no character introduction, and no backstories. The reader is simply thrown amid the POV characters’ lives and then has to figure out what’s happening. This chaos was, however, short-lived, and I was sucked into their enchanting worlds. Tip: give it a little time to grow on you. I am definitely keeping Masih on my radar and will check out more of her works in the future.

Thanks to Press53 and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my review.
How We Disappear is now available for purchase.

3.75/5🌟(rounding up).

TW: Disappearance, death, divorce, poverty, depression, and grief.

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As with any collection of stories, they’re going to be some that you like in some that you don’t. Some of these were really odd like the people selling fish on the side of the road or the girl who made candy. I did like the one with Agatha Christie illusions for that one was a little weird too. All in all this was an interesting read for me because it was a departure from the typical thrillers that I pick up.

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A haunting collection of twelve stories and one novella set around the theme of disappearance, whether physical or metaphorical.

As the title indicates, the tales deal with “how we disappear”, but don’t feel repetitive in their theme. While one might involve a wartime pilot “disappearing”, another might involve a roadside fishmonger who “disappears” to passing vehicles without much thought. I am surprised at how the author thought of so many ways in which the tag ‘disappear” can apply to people.

The approach of most of the stories is either dark or melancholic. Barely a couple of stories are lighter in essence, though many are feel-good in their own way. I think the sombre feel of the collection made a difference to my experience. Though I did spread out this read over many days, the gloominess got to me. I might have enjoyed this better had I picked it up in a different mood.

What is undeniable is the writing talent of the author. Amazing prose, brilliant control over the story-telling, and praise-worthy rep of those from indigenous and/or minority backgrounds. Her storytelling is simply beautiful. None of the stories felt like they ended abruptly, though they might not have a traditional HEA.

As always, I rated the stories individually. Some of the stories hit the mark, while others left me feeling a tad confused over their point. Some were apt in their length while a few would have worked better if extended a bit. My favourites from this collection were:
👉 What You Can't See in the Picture – How a police “recogniser” uses her special skills to locate a missing child.
👉 Delight –How a sweet maker from Puerto Rico finds unexpected love despite disappearing in the background because of her partial disability. My favourite story from the book, probably because it was the only one with a better than feel-good end.
👉 In a Sulfate Mist – How a new couple discovers a bond in mayfly season.
👉 If You Had Stopped – Hardly a few paragraphs long but among the most impactful. Written in second person, it narrates the thoughts of a fishmonger as she watches the vehicles pass by on the highway without stopping to buy her wares.

3.35 stars, based on the average of my rating for each story. As I said, this might have been higher had I picked it up at some other time. Regardless of my lower rating, I would still suggest this as a worthwhile anthology for its intelligent writing and range of topics and characters. This is definitely an author I would love to read more of.

My thanks to Press 53 and NetGalley for the DRC of “How We Disappear”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book.

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This is a skilful collection of short stories, all focusing on the theme of loss. My particular favourite was Agatha: A Life in Unauthorised Fragments. It tells of the disappearance of Agatha Christie, and the author writes of those eleven days in which the famous Mrs. Christie was missing eloquently and engagingly. Even though it is a subject matter that I am already familiar with, it was a pleasure to re-familiarise myself with it through the pen of Ms. Masih.

As a collection of twelve short stories and a novella, and with each taking a different look at the theme of disappearance and loss, they hang securely together as a whole, with each passing seamlessly to the next.

It does not surprise me that the author has written this lovely collection of stories. She is an excellent storyteller and writes with intelligence, flair and sensitivity. I highly recommend this book.

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How We Disappear from Tara Lynn Masih is a collection of stories and one novella joined loosely around the concept of disappearance in its various possibilities: physical loss or removal, emotional distancing, the effects of time on our place in our world, illness, so many states of body or mind that can disrupt life.

We experience some of these stories through the minds or eyes of those “disappeared” while in others, we feel the grief or longing of those left behind.

I have a some favorites, of course. My first (and the book’s), “What You Can’t See in the Picture”, is a story of what is termed a super recognizer, a person who can pick out one face in a crowd of others. It’s a story on purpose, identity, true sight, insight, the meaning of vision and wisdom with some irony thrown in for good measure as a woman works in this role with the police. Another is “Fleeing Gravity”, the story of a man from nowhere, with nothing who finds a place to disappear. In “Delight “, I found affirmation. Loved this story of Delight who has felt “disappeared” her entire life. “Agatha: a Life in Unauthorized Fragments” is an unexpected look into Agatha Christie’s life. “Notes to The World” is a long story of two young people out of their element, with no good place in the world, a diary linking them in Siberian cold. Lastly is the novella “An Aura Surrounds that Night”, the story of a farm family.

As I finish my review I realize there are more stories I could include, but then I would be listing the contents of the book. My purpose is to highlight and there are many, many highlights here to savor.

I received a copy of this book from Press 53 through NetGalley.

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This book is a treat. A collection of short stories written by Ms. Masih, each different from the other but all well written. A great book for readers who like to feel every emotion.

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Several short stories, good ones, about love, loss and death, almost all the stories talk about some kind of love and some sort of death and yes there’s poetry in the way the prose is written, I did enjoy most of the stories, without spoilers and to have an idea of what you can find, in one, you have a girl that falls in love with a surfer, or a woman that is very good remembering faces and she saves a little girl that probably cant even remember her own face at the mirror or a girl who speaks to a snake that has her dead mother voice, yes these are some of the examples of what you can find in this book, and much more…

Thank you NetGalley for the free ARC and this is my honest opinion.

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How We Disappear is a mixed bag. The collection of short stories and the one novella, though, all deal with the way people disappear. I love that the stories are unified in this manner. Some are beautiful and fully realized like "Agatha: A Life in Unauthorized Fragments." But, like many short story collections, there are a few that don't quite feel fulfilled. "Salt" happens to be one of those. Tara Lynn Masih has a lyrical voice, and I was glad to see her work outside her historic fiction (though I did love My Real Name is Hannah).

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𝑨𝒈𝒂𝒊𝒏, 𝑰 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒖𝒓𝒈𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒂𝒑𝒐𝒍𝒐𝒈𝒊𝒛𝒆- 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒑𝒂𝒔𝒕𝒂, 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒅𝒖𝒔𝒕 𝒇𝒓𝒐𝒎 𝒎𝒚 𝒔𝒉𝒐𝒆𝒔, 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒉𝒂𝒊𝒓 𝑰’𝒎 𝒔𝒉𝒆𝒅𝒅𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒊𝒏 𝒓𝒆𝒄𝒐𝒓𝒅 𝒂𝒎𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒕𝒔, 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒎𝒚 𝒇𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒆𝒓𝒑𝒓𝒊𝒏𝒕𝒔 𝒐𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒎𝒊𝒓𝒓𝒐𝒓. 𝑭𝒐𝒓 𝒎𝒚 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒇𝒖𝒔𝒆𝒅 𝒑𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒆𝒏𝒄𝒆.

This is a beautifully written collection of stories, whether haunted by the past, oneself or comforted by a ghost that asks nothing of you, there is a statement made in disappearing. There is always something to unpack when a character has one foot in the spirit world and the other in the living, whether you believe it’s genuine or psychological. The meaning of ghosts is clever here, as in the first story What You Can’t See In The Picture, time has passed, images on CCTV are themselves ghost moments, whether the people captured in footage are still living or dead the point is, they are ghosts the character has to bring back to life. It’s her job, to find criminals or the last moments of those gone missing. She must piece together and help solve mysteries. The ghost in Fleeing Gravity is a Wolf, a viscous hunter destroying cattle and sheep, terrorizing the cattle ranchers and sheep farmers. The beast is tracked and killed, eventually, on the same night Brandy is born. His Cree mother tells him that some of the spirit left the ‘divine animal’ and entered him. He grows up unsure of what he is, Indian? Wolf? White? The natural world speaks to him, he is pained by the trees that must be felled by his father, men like him on their mountain, who make their living in lumber. It is during lean times he grows up, with rough love, but soon his life with them will only be an echo of the past. His haunting journey turns supernatural when he leaves his tribe and the basin. Through his travels he finds work at a pioneer ghost town, and this is where his heart finds anchor. It’s eerie and beautiful. He finds a home lost to time, in a sense, and the historical fiction swimming through the tales are fascinating. The Wolf hauntings began during the great depression and the hard scrabble living of his mother and father is a reminder of an earlier America. It’s interesting how people are molded by the times, none of us escapes this.

Disappearing can be a retreat, a choice. Agatha Christie, the famous English Writer known for her detective stories, learned how to be released from silence in youth and later during her marriage found a trick to escape the pain and noise of her life, even if it had to be stolen. I felt my heart crack in this tale of abandonment, the cold wind of betrayal and the hunger to just get through it, to learn how to live again. Sometimes our former selves are phantoms too.

Characters mourn the loss of connections, those made and bonds that were never born, are victims of abduction, live vague lives, speak to the spirit of their mother in the mouth of a snake, walk upon piles of mayflies, and struggle with the hurt of being a mystery to their partner. Characters live in places that others pass by, leave notes to the world they have chosen to leave behind, are branded by memories, or pluck chickens on a family farm. They are all waiting for something to happen or learning how to move on from the strange or tragic turn their lives have taken. Some seek comfort through clairvoyance, others through running away but all of them confront disappearance in many forms. The stories are engaging, rich inventions full of depth and meaning. I look forward to reading more by Tara Lynn Masih, not all short stories pluck the heartstrings.

Publication Date: September 13, 2022

Press 53

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I loved how this captivating collection of diverse stories felt the intimacy of sharing a strange series of dreams with a friend. Each vignette as distinct from the other as they were vague in form, they often seemed to begin at the middle, or the end of a journey, and yet they only seemed like a beginning. For all that, though, they were all emotionally filling enough to feel complete. I feel to say more than that is ---

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4.3 Stars

One Liner: Brooding and darkish; introspective without being too heavy.

How We Disappear is an anthology of short stories and a novella on the theme of disappearance. It encompasses stories from different regions, communities, and social structures. The writing is evocative without being dramatic. In fact, it seems matter of fact and yet delivers emotions with full force.
The tone, POV, and narration change from one story to another. Some are in the first person, while some are in the third person. Each story is distinct, though not all make the same impact.
While the overall theme of disappearances creates a sense of vagueness and haziness, some stories are a little too vague to understand. This is my first book by the author, and I’m totally impressed by her writing style.

What You Can't See in the Picture: A story about a facial recognitionist and a missing girl with face blindness. A solid start to the book. Introspective police procedural with human emotions and bonding as an underlying theme.
Salt: Too short a story about a woman who chooses to disappear with a lover.
Fleeting Gravity: Story of Brandy, a mixed race Cree. A melancholic tale about life, loss, acceptance, loneliness, and society. It is sad and peaceful at the same time.
How Do You Thank a River: A story about a cowboy’s life and the famous Red river in the region. The ending is left open for interpretation.
Delight: The story of a confectionary maker and a man who claims to be different from others. The hopeful ending might be a bit cliché to some, but it was perfect for me. We need a small ray of hope to keep living.
Agatha: A Life in Unauthorized Fragments: My absolute favorite! It is Agatha Christie’s life story told in fragments- just like her mystery books. I love it.
Birdman: The story of an American woman’s journey to Belgium to find her father’s grave. It starts slow and reveals the layers in the plot through the woman’s thoughts and actions. A heartwarming story.
Billy said this really Happened to Lucy: A little girl grieving the death of her mother and a mysterious snake that talks to her. A message about grief, mourning, and letting go.
In a Sulfate Mist: Finding new love, mayflies, doubts, acceptance, and taking chances. Short yet impactful.
Those who have Gone: A story about a New York woman who arrives in Arizona looking for a fresh start yet clinging to the past. A vivid story about life, relationships, and trusting oneself to make the right decisions.
If You had Stopped: A fragment of a community’s life in the second person POV. The woman says it all without saying much. Deep, sad, and defeated acceptance.
Notes to the World: A story about two different people who don’t meet but have a common point. Set in Russian winter, it is the story of resilience and determination.
An Aura Surrounds the Night (novella): A bittersweet story of Mercy and Melody. It comes from Mercy’s POV, revealing her family dynamics and her life over the years. The story was a bit confusing as she refers to her parents as mother and father and by their names. It’s not entirely linear. From what I understood, the story takes a sort of U-turn to have an introspective ending.

To sum up, How We Disappear: Novella & Stories is a collection of darkish, brooding, and melancholic stories with a few hopeful ones added to the mix. I’d love to revisit some of the stories one day in the future.
Thank you, NetGalley and Press 53, for the eARC. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book.

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How We Disappear by Tara Lynn Masih
Novella & Stories

Strangely intriguing almost flow of consciousness stories that explore and give insight into a variety of lives. Well written and thought provoking…I will ponder some of the stories in this collection for longer than a moment. Most are dark and rather grim, some left me scratching my head trying to figure out if there was a message and if so…what it was, and most left me sad and wishing that the lives of those in the short glimpse I saw could have had better lives other than the ones I was given a glimpse of.

I think my favorite short story was DELIGHT because it seemed to have more than a bit of hope and left me thinking of possibilities…positive possibilities for a young girl that otherwise might not have had them. I can honestly say that I am glad I have not experienced what the characters in these stories have…or at least not as darkly.

Thank you to NetGalley and Press 53 for the ARC – This is my honest review.

3-4 Stars

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Where to begin to describe how lovely the writing is ? I could say its the kind of descriptions that had me rereading sentences, paragraphs just to experience them again. I could say how captivating the stories are, not connected in the sense of recurring characters or story line, but by something special that is woven through the collection. In her acknowledgments Tara Lynn Masih indicates that a common thread is “the theme of disappearance” and that of course is reflected in the title. For me though, the disappearances are associated with characters finding themselves, with finding peace or contentment, with letting go, with taking chances, with accepting love.

A few of my favorites:
“WHAT YOU CAN’T SEE IN THE PICTURE”, a gripping story of a missing little girl told through the perspective of a woman who works for the police department, whose job is to view tapes, and pictures and recognize people and things in them to identify possible perpetrators of crimes. I was on the edge of my chair hoping for a good outcome . What an emotional story that brought tears.
“SALT” is short and magical and beautiful. Enough said.
“DELIGHT” is sad at times, but is delightful with fabulous characters and wonderful descriptions of coconut confections that made me wish I had some . It was full of hope and I cried.
“BIRD MAN” was one of the most touching stories of a woman trying to come to terms years later with her father’s death during the war. It’s also about making connections through shared grief.

Beautiful story telling , and a beautiful rendering of hope in spite of loss and heartbreak. Highly recommended.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Press 53 through NetGalley .

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This collection of compelling stories explores different themes of life: impossible becoming possible, one’s disappearance, letting go of someone, finding one’s answer. Along the way, offering an array of characters from different walks of life. With different circumstance, they offer different emotional experiences, loss and rediscovery.

With deft writing, vivid portrayal of place and character, the passionate storytelling is masterful.

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This book is a collection of beautifully written short stories plus a novella. They are character-driven with themes of various forms of disappearances and life-altering experiences. Unlike some short stories I have read, these have a beginning, middle, and an end. Each one feels like a complete thought.

My favorites are “Delight” (about a momentous week in the life of a candy shop worker) and “Bird Man” (a woman searches for her father’s grave far from home). I also greatly enjoyed “Those Who Have Gone” (a woman travels to Arizona to find a new path) and “Notes to the World” (a Russian man finds a batch of diary entries in a deserted cabin after almost dying of hypothermia).

I had previously read and loved Masih’s novel My Real Name is Hanna. I highly recommend both works. She is a wonderful writer. I have added her to my list of favorite authors and plan to read whatever she writes in the future.

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I was blown away by this exceptional collection of stories from Tara Lynn Masih. Her overarching theme of “how we disappear” turns out to be so wonderfully complex, and each piece explores this idea in its own unique way. Masih includes a quote from Lava (Pamela C. Ball) at the very beginning of the book that provides context to her work:

“Whenever I asked about my father, my mom told me… he’d just disappeared. Into thin air, she’d add, snapping her long fingers. Thin air. A country all its own.”

It is evident throughout this collection that Masih has a deep, passionate fascination with what it means to be in “thin air.” I felt her drive to explore it coming right off every page; and as a reader, I’m now deeply fascinated by it too! She’s pulled me right in through her impressive worldbuilding, beautiful (truly lyrical) writing, and the profound ideas that underlie each narrative. She effectively weaves in constructs like race and gender, highlighting how they intersect with the larger theme. She uses a variety of narrative styles and structures, which tended to add another layer of insight to their respective stories. She illustrates disappearance through both natural and supernatural elements, giving very real concepts – like death and memory – an almost magical quality. And she is so masterful with her words that I found myself resonating with sentence after sentence, passage after passage; to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever been quite this liberal with my highlighter.

This was a joy to read on so many levels. As an aspiring writer, it was truly inspiring – almost like a master class showcasing a poetic yet concise style of writing that I’ve always wanted. As a first time NetGalley reviewer, I was marvelously thrown off; I was all ready to put my critic’s hat on, being the self-described picky reader that I am, and never pictured myself singing an author’s praises like this. Sure, there are some stories I enjoyed more than others; particular standouts including “What You Can’t See in the Picture,” “Delight,” “Agatha: A Life in Unauthorized Fragments,” and the final novella “An Aura Surrounds That Night.”

And as a regular human being/reader, I found the collection incredibly moving. With every “disappearance” is someone, or something, that is left behind to reckon with its absence; and following her characters as they navigate different types of loss was a cathartic experience of my own. Masih’s stories featured a variety of cultures, backgrounds, geographic locations, time frames, and contexts; but underlying each one was this universal theme that everyone has to face at some point in their lives. I felt that connection as I was reading.
I actually started to break down the individual stories, but it was making this review incredibly long (and time consuming). If anyone would be interested in reading it, I’d love to write a second review closer to the release date and dig deeper into each one!

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of the book!

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