Award-winning writer Angie Abdou gives a glowing review to The Dark and Other Love Stories on the glorious CBC!
Deborah chats with the sassiest voices in the Can Lit world—about speculative fiction, about hypochondria, about anger, about..."menstrual glue?!"
"If Munro created the template for the Canadian short story, Willis and McNulty seem determined to test its boundaries and elasticity."
"Flight is a favorite motif in Willis’s work, the soaring, swooping and plunging of birds an echo of her skillful narrative technique."
"...13 exceptional tales infused with foreboding and simmering sensuality."
"Passing up on this slender but meaty volume would mean missing out on Willis’ brand of strange and often sensual realism and her thoughtful exploration of the diversity of love."
"The most appealing thing about Willis's writing is her ability to seamlessly weave fantastical elements into her stories..."
"Willis’ writing is funny and heartbreaking, deeply generous and insightful. The Dark and Other Love Stories is less a short story collection than a gallery of novels in miniature."
"...such an accomplished, vivid, and memorable collection."
"These paradoxes are always startling because Willis’s subtle machinations are masked by her urgent and propulsive prose."
"Willis’ prose was beautiful and often had an almost ethereal feel to it."
"Part of the joy in reading the stories is noting how in lesser hands, they could become cliché or sentimental. Not so with Willis. Her approach is dynamic and fluid — the reader gets caught up at once in the empathy laced with a tinge of melancholy."
"What is probably more essential is that writers be unconventional in their thinking, that they question the structures of our socioeconomic system and our conventional moral biases."
"strikingly confident prose.... In writing such beautiful stories, Willis must meet the repeated challenge of making her next story as good as the last."
"Sometimes, I wish I were Sancho Panza so that I could eat a lot, sleep outside under the warm Spanish sun, go on adventures and have a loyal donkey as a friend..."
"Don’t be afraid of The Dark and Other Love Stories but be warned: Deborah Willis’s delectable fictions aren’t amorous confections."
"Read more. Read as much as you can. Read more than you write."
"The Dark and Other Love Stories is a reason for hope."
"This is a fully mature, beautiful realized collection. Indeed, in this dazzling suite of stories, Willis cements her rightful claim as a major new voice in Canadian fiction."
"The majority of the stories take place in Canada. Canada is cool, especially considering our current political climate here in the states."
"These are low-key stories of great acuity, precision, and poignancy."
"This year, I found myself devouring short stories like mad... still, I kept returning to Deborah Willis."
"The stories in Vanishing show the magic of fiction at its best."
Deborah interviewed in the Blogosphere
DW: I don’t often feel noble when I sit down to write. I just write with the questionable goal of telling a story that interesting and meaningful, and of creating characters that are complex and contradictory. But my feeling about writing and reading is that both are acts of empathy.
Deborah has been nominated for the GG for fiction:
"Vanishing and Other Stories is a book of rare insight into the complications of the human heart. Light of touch but deep in content, Deborah Willis’s stories startle, exhilarate and radiate with piercing insights. Original and deftly structured, all 14 continue to resonate long after the book is finished."
Review of Vanishing in the Montreal Gazette
"Her words feel essential and elemental. She is one of those writers who make fiction feel less of a genre than a language unto itself."
Article in the Calgary Herald
"Deborah Willis said having Vanishing and Other Short Stories land in the same category as Munro's Too Much Happiness is both “kind of ironic and kind of wonderful,” given that the CanLit icon was both an influence and early cheerleader of Willis's debut collection."
Article in the Times Colonist
“I just got a call from my editors, and I was hugely, pleasantly surprised,” Willis said yesterday. “And I think it's strange and wonderful to be nominated alongside Alice Munro ... I've looked up to her for so long.”
MM: What would you say is the thematic link?
DW: I basically took Vanishing, the story itself, as the title story and the main theme that's happening. So it's all about people going away and people coming back. When I was writing it, I was thinking along the lines of writing stories about people coming to town and people leaving town as the really broad thing to work towards... I definitely wanted to write about loss from different perspectives and I think the book is kind of dark for that reason.
Review of Vanishing in the Vancouver Sun by Brett Josef Grubisic
"Even-tempered, sober and intimate, Willis's debut collection has a gravity that suggests both the conventionality and maturity of an author well into her career. But if echoes of Mavis Gallant and Alice Munro (and, in the hard-luck stories, Raymond Carver) reveal her as an astute apprentice, Willis also illustrates her talent for crafting stories that confidently reflect her distinctive techniques and voice."
Q&A in the National Post with Mark Medley
MM: What do you want people to take away from your work?
DW: As a reader and writer, I like stories that don't bestow judgment. By that I mean that I like stories that capture the complexity, ambiguity, and unexpectedness of life, without simplifying things.
Review of Vanishing in the Globe and Mail by Jim Bartley
"Willis's overriding theme is the mutability - frequently the malleability - of love.
I later found myself recalling the characters, the streets, the heat, food, clothing, voices, smells, bound up with a sense of them rising from hundreds of pages. It's the best-ever connect with an author: to encounter a fully realized world inseparable from the uncanny fact of it existing as mere words, magnificently strung together."
AL: If you could be invisible for one day what would you do?
DW: What does it say about the poverty of my imagination if I have no idea? Remember being a kid, and hanging out with other kids, and having that very serious discussion about which super power you'd most like to have? Some kids wanted to be invisible, some wanted to fly. I always wanted to be able to manipulate time. I wanted to be able to pause it, and move forward and backwards within it. To me, that seemed like the ultimate super power, and it still does.
"Yvonne Hunter, vice-president of marketing, admits it's rare for a publisher the size of Penguin to take a chance on an unknown writer's collection of short fiction. But editors were taken aback by the quality of Willis's work..."
Victoria Book Clerk's Stories Are Dark, Concise And Reminiscent Of Alice Munro
- Adrian Chamberlain, Times Colonist
"If I were a betting man, I'd put a sack of cash on Deborah Willis becoming a nationally renowned writer.
The title tale is about a playwright who suddenly disappears from his attic-study one day and never returns. This story, like most of Willis's, concludes in a curious, unpredictable way that suggests the untidiness of real life."