How We Disappear: Novella & Stories

Title: How We Disappear:Novella & Stories

Writer: Tara Lynn Masih

Publishing House: Press 53

Date of Publication:  September 13th 2022

Rating: 5 stars

‘’Yesterday I found myself in St. Servaasbasiliek, and lit two candles. Organ music wended its way into my history, drawing forth doubts. It is music – caught, held, and shot back down to the listener in waves created by the carefully designed ceilings – meant to reach even the most resistant of souls.

 The souls refuse to be cast too far away.’’

Astonishing, haunting, poignant! I was moved and in love! It is collections like this one, marvellously written by Tara Lynn Masih, which make me certain that short stories are THE genre for every book lover.

What You Can’t See in the Picture: What a story to begin the collection. A Super Recogniser narrates the case of a missing girl and allows us to wander into the mysteries of her job and her thoughts.

Salt: ‘’You see, she told me, this man farms the fantastical.

 He breeds magic and the impossible. His cows produce milk that when spun turns to miles of clear silk. His chickens lay eggs that, when broken open, reveal pearls. Picture this, her voice quickens and is breathy on the phone, us on his front porch, in the evenings, cracking open green shells to remove small luminescent orbs that glow like dozens of tiny moons in his orange Pyrex bowl. Like we used to shell peas, remember? 

  There is more – horses whose hooves turn to copper as they age, snakes whose venom cures cancer. All this amongst weather-beaten barn boards, tumbleweed, abandoned metal equipment, Queen Anne’s lace, whistles and warbles and yellow flashes of pasture meadowlarks.

  How could I not stop for this?’’

I’ll just leave this wonder here…

Fleeing Gravity: An epic story in less than 20 pages that takes place on the frontier during the Great Depression and the tale of a man trying to find the balance between two cultures, two spirits, and the soul of a white wolf.

How Do You Thank a River? The agony of a man who has been violently driven away from his own land due to the white man’s greed.

Delight: So many layers in this story…What seems, at first, a story of summer love between a Puerto Rican woman of a special kind of beauty and a surfer, becomes an ode to ignoring all ‘’well-wishers’’ and the ones who want to clip your wings. And chocolate. Chocolate always makes everything better…

Agatha: A Life in Unauthorized Fragments: A moving account of the life and works of Agathat Christie in beautiful, haunting snippets from her travels to her first marriage, the creation of Hercule Poirot, her disappearance and the final Curtain. The Dame of Mystery would be so proud…

Bird Man: A daughter travels to the Netherlands to find the traces of her father who was killed in action during WWII. Her story is linked with another woman’s sorrow in a tale of loss and tears but also of the certainty that our loved ones never leave us.

Billy Said This Really Happened to Lucy: A fable set in the marshes where snakes speak in human tongues and ghosts are always watchful…

In A Sulfate Mist: A woman drives in the middle of the night to finally meet the man who seemed to be her ideal match. Online, at least. But this is the night of the Hatch when mayflies mate and die. This story is simply exquisite. There are so many underlying themes and a quietly haunting feeling. I would love to see it expanded into a novella.

Those Who Have Gone: A woman feed from a ridiculous husband decides to live. Finally. It may sound detrimental but trust me, there is nothing cliched in this story that explores our craving for change and love, along with social issues that affect us all.

If You Had Stopped: This is a cryptic tale, reminiscent of Tennessee Williams, and an eerie confession.

‘’Noon is when the trees cast shadows. But there is a voice that haunts me. It says, You will be left alone someday in this wilderness. LEFT ALONE.’’

Notes to the World:  In an extraordinary story, Grigori finds himself trying to survive in the taiga while hunting. Out of the blue, a cabin provides him with shelter and it is there that he finds the notes of a confession, the memories of survival of a woman that is a member of the Old Believers. A marvellous tale that HAS to become a novel. 

Please.

An Aura Surrounds the Night: A coming-of-age story that begins with Kennedy’s assassination and continues with a sister’s disappearance and the wound that can’t be healed. A story full of summer light and perfumes but also darkness and the inevitability of our Fate…

I live for books like this one. Enough said.

‘’The entrance to the cemetery is guarded by a monolithic angel, the broad valley behind her wingspan full of a whiteness that must blind the eyes in summertime. Rows and rows of crosses, and the occasional Star of David, shine against the green of the well-maintained lawn. Here and there a linden tree shades a cluster of graves, but most look vulnerable, exposed to the wind and rain.’’

Many thanks to Press 53 for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.