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What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us

What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us

4.1 8
by Laura van den Berg

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Taunt prose performed on a high wire, fearless stories that reach inside and rattle the soul.


Taunt prose performed on a high wire, fearless stories that reach inside and rattle the soul.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
The mysteries of science and the mysteries of the heart -- perhaps nowhere have they been so provocatively linked as in this debut short-story collection. Filled with explorers, researchers, and dreamers, the eight stories in this volume depict the universal quest for discovery and closure - and the lack of satisfying answers that all too often defines the human condition.

\ \ In the first story, "Where We Must Be," a would-be actress takes a job in a remote theme park, dressing up as Bigfoot. Her interactions with those seeking an encounter with the legendary beast are juxtaposed with her connection to a man who is truly running out of time. "Inverness" follows a botanist who, as she copes with a failed romance, travels to Scotland to discover a rare plant, only to meet a man who has devoted his life to plumbing the watery darkness in search of the Loch Ness monster.

\ \ In the title story, a 17-year-old girl travels with her mother, an expert on primate habitats, to Madagascar. The mother wants to expand her daughter's horizons, but the more time they spend together, the more lost the daughter feels. Van den Berg's protagonists are often young, smart, and damaged by the people they love. And yet their motivation to forge ahead prevails, giving her characters, and her stories, resonance and stature. \ (Holiday 2009 Selection)
Publishers Weekly
In her affecting debut collection, van den Berg taps into her characters’ losses with an impressive clarity. Each of these stories is meticulously crafted, and often the protagonist is recovering emotionally from a staggering life’s blow. In “Goodbye My Loveds,” two siblings are reeling from the death of their parents, scientists fatally snake-bitten in the Amazon; a sister leaves college to take care of her 12-year-old brother and recognizes the need to suppress her own needs in order to help her brother face their new lives. In the beautifully elegiac “Where We Must Be,” a failed actress gives up on L.A. and finds work as Bigfoot in a theme park; her love affair with a young neighbor dying of cancer underscores the preciousness of time’s passing. In the title story, a young woman learns to face her fears while spending time with her scientist mother observing endangered lemurs in Madagascar. These tales are the work of a notable author finding her voice. (Oct.)

Product Details

Dzanc Books
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.46(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.56(d)

Meet the Author

Laura van den Berg was raised in Florida and earned her M.F.A. at Emerson College. Her first collection of stories, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us(Dzanc Books, 2009), was a Barnes & Noble "Discover Great New Writers" selection. Her second collection of stories, The Isle of Youth,, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in November 2013, won the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters and The Bard Fiction Prize, and was named a "Best Book of 2013" by over a dozen venues, including NPR, The Boston Globe, and O, The Oprah Magazine. Both collections were shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. Her first novel, Find Me, is out from FSG in February 2015. The recipient of a 2014 O. Henry Award, Laura currently lives in the Boston area and is a Writer-in-Residence at Bard College.

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What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
wightknyte More than 1 year ago
These stories have a perfect mix of the strange and the intimate ordinariness of character lives. Some have more bizarreness than others, but always the right amount. The best aspect of these stories, though, is the subtlety of the emotions. The emotion is always there, and you can always feel exactly what the message is through what the character is feeling, but it isn't crassly articulated. Pressed, I'm not sure I could articulate it myself. Instead, I just sat back after reading each story and knew I got it (whether or not what I got was what was intended).
tension72 More than 1 year ago
None of the stories are cheery or uplifting.The characters in each story are just trying to survive. They are not your typical characters and the settings are not either. You find yourself getting lost in the stories and the characters become close friends. You savoir every word and have the foresight to know that soon it will all end. You finish one story and then feel like you couldn't possibly like the next story as much as the last, but you do. You finish the book and you feel like going back to the the beginning and doing it all over again. I have never lost myself so throughly in a story or book and thought I might never went to come back to reality again. I look forward to more stories from her.
TiBookChatter More than 1 year ago
How do I share the feeling that I am feeling right at this moment? Well, let's give it a shot. There are many wonderful stories in this collection and although each story contains its own set of memorable characters, they are all tied together by a common thread, people who are searching for that special "something" that sets them apart from the rest. The world is filled with people yet if you take a moment to really reflect on people in general, you'll see how different and unique each person can be. This is what I noticed with this collection. The author takes normal people, puts them in unusual situations or locales and then we see what they do with the cards that are dealt them. To me, this is an incredibly personal journey. A journey of discovery, yes, but it almost felt as I was lurking in a corner somewhere within these people's lives. Listening to their conversations, anticipating their next move, etc. It's a wonderful feeling to escape life for a minute and to just observe someone else. My intent was to finish this book in one day. You can surely do that as it's very short, but why would you? After reading the first story, you'll figure out ways to make it last, as you won't want it to end. I've been reading it for several weeks now and although I've finished it, I still find myself flipping through its pages. What I especially appreciate, is that these stories are so different from what I've read before. Many of the stories center around monsters. Yes, Bigfoot and Loch Ness to name a few. Imaginary beings and things such as a tunnel leading to the other side of the world. Reading this book is almost like being a kid again. For a brief while, you can immerse yourself in the story and not think about what is real and what isn't it. I can't pick a favorite story as they were all wonderful in different ways. There's science and art and the beauty of language and foreign places. Oh, and the writing is wonderful too. I caught myself re-reading sections just because they were so well-written. You'll just have to take my word for it. The book is great and it deserves a spot on your shelf.
LPieroni More than 1 year ago
Van den Berg's stories, true to the collection's title, have elements in water running throughout. Hannah Tinti's claim that she "finds the tension between science and magic and walks it like a tightrope" is very misleading. Her stories, while utilizing exotic travels to Africa ("The Rain Season") and South America (title story and "goodbye my loveds") and the people and creatures that dwell there , should not be confused for "magic". Her main characters, all female, carry the same voice regardless of who they are, what age they are, and how they are feeling. Van den Berg seems to lack the ability to fully form her characters, and instead they seem to be mere versions of herself. And she must be boring. Van den Berg utilizes exotic places, animals, and customs to try to hide the fact that the stories and characters themselves are flat, underdeveloped, trite, and dull. Her attempts to display "the human condition" are often cliched and overdone. An older woman haves an affair with a younger man, a failed actress wanders to a strange place trying to find herself, many women nurse broken hearts, and so on. For more of this review, and other reviews, go to: laurareviewsbooks.blogspot.com
WillToeffort More than 1 year ago
I started reading Laura van den Berg's "What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves" at Barnes and Noble. As soon as I got home, I read the rest of it. Characters become obsessed with scientific quests; partners are unfaithful. Interesting stories for mature readers.
gmameme More than 1 year ago
This book is filled with so much symbolism and imagination! All the water leaving us is a horrific idea, yet what would happen if we could let go and just float? A facinating read, funny, touching characters all faced with monumental decisions and no good solutions... water has varying weight, depth and boyancy and the human spirit can rise or fall dpending on a turn of a page, or not. Again, I am not fond of the short story, yet the two books I have just finished (Olive Kitteredge being the other) are just that. This one left me stunned at the author's ability to see into the human condition and it made me more hopeful even as I felt the devistation of impossible circumstances. It is just this unique characteristic that causes humans to forge on even in the face of disaster. All of us are faced with difficult choices, with the best of intentions and little more than hope to guide us, we must choose, and then live by that choice. Even in the face of adversity mankind moves forward. While this book may seem depressing at times, it soars in the end. Take the time to let it flow over you. Congratulations to Laura van den Berg!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I picked this up on a lark and am so glad I did. The first and last stories were easily the standouts, especially in terms of originality and captivation. The downside is that the stories almost began to feel like a template after a while, with each one being being like the last. In the author's effort to create a theme it was almost a little too much. However, with that said, I still couldn't put it down and defintely would recommend it to others looking for something a little different but something also plaintive and somber. A great first effort by this author. I look forward to seeing what she'll do next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago