Thursday, February 3, 2011
Bookseller by day, Writer by Night: Introducing Deborah Willis
Vanishing and Other Stories is a great debut from young Canadian author Deborah Willis. Her short stories are written in simple, beautiful language and explore intimate relationships among friends, between lovers, and within families. The two stand-out stories for me were "sky theatre," a story about a beautiful teenage girl who seems invincible but then falls from grace when an accident occurs, and a more ordinary girl who shares a pivotal moment with her. The other stand-out story is "the separation," a story about two sisters with hippie parents ("raised on lentils, brown rice, Neil Young, and solstice celebrations") who decide to separate. This was a very funny ("It was one thing to smoke weed that the neighbours grew. But to support the big tobacco companies was out of the question."), tender, brilliantly written story. In an addendum included in this print version, Willis writes an account of her double life as a bookseller and writer, and describes the moment when she sold the first copy of her book. Her humility, as evidenced by all of her story titles written in lower case and her apparent wonderment at finding her writing in print, makes her a winsome author of whom I expect more great work to come.