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Ways to Disappear: 06/10/16

Ways to Disappear by Lucy Knisley

Ways to Disappear by Idra Novey is the author's first novel after a number of poetry collections. Emma, a translator working in Pittsburgh, heads to Brazil when best selling author Beatriz Yagoda disappears. She was last seen smoking from up top a almond tree.

Emma's investigation takes her to Beatriz's home and to her family: a son and a daughter. The daughter while missing her mother, of course, doesn't want the help of a foreign interloper. The brother, meanwhile, can't get enough of her.

As the half assed investigation progresses we learn about Beatriz's novels, what she put into them of her personal life, and what she has kept secret. We learn that the wholesome Brazilian mother and wife as her publicist has portrayed her all these years has secrets and enemies.

But there's just not enough here. Rather, it's Beatriz Yagoda who is the most interesting character in the novel and she only really gets the first chapter. Emma, her American eyes and ears, is too timid and too respectful of her preconceived notions of Beatriz. Sure there is some tension between Emma's physical discomfort in being in a place she thinks she knows doesn't — it's just not enough.

It's a decent start though. If Novey writes a second novel, I will read it.

Three stars

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