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The Art of Disappearing: A Novel by Ivy…
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The Art of Disappearing: A Novel

by Ivy Pochoda

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3.5 stars ( )
  TinaV95 | Jan 18, 2012 |
I read "The Art of Disappearing" in February, and I knew the minute I finished it that it would be on the Favorite Books of the Year list. In December, it remained in the #1 spot. I can still visualize certain scenes and remember particular passages. It's just a very very lovely book.

Toby Warring is a magician. Not a "pull a rabbit from the hat" magician, but one who has the ability to reach into other dimensions and produce real magic. He and Mel Snow meet and marry quickly, and their life journey follows the consequences of Toby's magic. It is a story about losing things, and the price one is willing to pay to find what has been lost.

The storyline is utterly original. There are echoes of Alice Hoffman, but the story is completely the author's own. This is no formulaic plot, but one that kept me in a constant state of fascination.

The writing is gorgeous. I am in awe of the author's ability to use words. The author paints word pictures using every dazzling colour in the universe. Each sentence is a masterpiece of art. I feel that it is this use of words, even more so than the plot, that leads the reader from the first sentence to the last.

A theme of lostness runs through the story like a river, sometimes a gentle babbling brook and other times a raging creek that threatens to burst its banks. And in the end the river empties into the sea, a vast expanse that both hides and exposes the essential meaning of "lost."

"The Art of Disappearing" is Pochoda's first novel. She can't write a second one soon enough for me! ( )
1 vote Her_Royal_Orangeness | Jan 8, 2012 |
Mel Snow met the love of her life in a desert saloon one night. Two days later, they are married. Toby is a magician hoping to make it big one day in Las Vegas. Only, he isn't your usual magician. He doesn't perform tricks of illusion like most magicians. He is a real magician, practicing real magic. He knows very little about where his magic comes from or how to control it, which makes him dangerous, not only to himself, but those around him. After a mishap with a former assistant, he swore off using humans in his act again. But that could only last so long.

Mel finds a kindred spirit in Toby; both moving from place to place, searching for that which they've lost. Mel has her own magic, although it's never really described as that in the novel. She is a textile consultant and she has this uncanny ability to hear the voices and music coming from textiles. She is able to weave stories together from them, including her own.

Toby has a charm about him that draws people to him. Mel can't help but begin to doubt that her own presence in his life wasn't something he concocted. Or is their love real? And while this is a significant plot point, the real story seems to be about two people trying to find their way in the world and come to terms with their pasts. Toby longs to rewrite the past while Mel struggles to understand it and find her place in it.

Toby's story took center stage in the novel. However, when I had read the final page of the book, I came away feeling it was much more Mel's story. And that makes sense given she is the narrator. It's hard for me to talk about this book and my feelings surrounding it without giving too much away. The development of the characters over the course of the novel is an intricate part of its make up. This is very much a character driven novel. The author also introduces us to old time magicians who long ago lost their magic, a not so good magician bent on revenge, a brother who is called by the water, and a teenage runaway who wants to make a name for herself. Each of their stories serve an important purpose in the novel, giving the reader an even fuller image of Toby and Mel, both as individuals and of their relationship together.

There is a beauty in the writing, in the descriptions of the desert and later Amsterdam as well as in the life given to Toby's magic. I was just as mesmerized as Mel in Toby's gift and powers. It wasn't until the second half of the novel, however, that I found myself completely drawn into Toby and Mel's life. The first half was interesting enough, but the story seemed to lag now and then. I think it had more to do with how separate Toby and Mel's stories seemed at that point. They seemed a bit disconnected from each other in those initial chapters. The novel grew on me though as everything fell into place, and, by the end, I was quite impressed.

I used to think that magic realism and I didn't go well together, but I've since chalked that up to a bad experience. The Art of Disappearing made me believe in magic for the few hours I was reading. I left the book feeling satisfied and a bit sad. I look forward to seeing what the author has in store for us next. ( )
  LiteraryFeline | Oct 11, 2010 |
There is a trend in indie films and books to create quirky characters and then do nothing meaningful with their quirks - they're just sort of quirky to be quirky and often wander around the film or book with a dazed expression on their face and an emo haircut. Seriously, everybody on the planet is quirky - let's celebrate that and make the actual bits and pieces of a character something that matters - because it does.

The Art of Disappearing is full of characters with all kinds of quirks and idiosyncrasies that the author fleshes out with great dexterity. This story of a conjurer who marries a textile designer to whom textiles and fabrics sing is full of the fantastical yet nothing is treated as a trick or an affectation or filler. Toby and Mel felt true to me in a way that characters in books often don't.

I loved this novel about love and letting go, about all the beauty in the world, and about longing after someone who's gone away. This is a beautifully told story full of conjured rabbits and snowstorms and brocades that sing. The Vegas and Amsterdam setting are perfect for it and there are many moments in this book that will stay with me.

Ms. Pochoda has written a fearless and marvelous story told in just the right way. I loved it. ( )
1 vote kraaivrouw | Oct 7, 2010 |
A snippet from my book review blog Rundpinne..."Pochoda has Mel narrate the novel and in so doing, this becomes Mel’s story, one filled with love, illusion, magic, and deep longing. Pachoda’s novel is eloquently written and in such a profound manner that the reader will fly through the book, metaphorically speaking." My full review is here: http://www.rundpinne.com ( )
  knittingmomof3 | Oct 6, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312385854, Hardcover)

How do you know if love is real or just an illusion?
When Mel Snow meets the talented magician Toby Warring in a dusty roadside bar, she is instantly drawn to the brilliant performer whose hands can effortlessly pull stray saltshakers and poker chips from thin air and conjure castles out of the desert sands. Just two days later they are married, beginning their life together in the shadow of Las Vegas, where Toby hopes to make it big. Mel knows that magicians are a dime a dozen, but Toby is different—his magic is real.
As Toby’s renown grows and Mel falls more and more in love with his wonderments, she starts to realize that Toby's powers are as unstable as they are dazzling. She learns that he once made his assistant disappear completely, and couldn’t bring her back. And then, just as Mel becomes convinced that his magic is dangerous, a trick goes terribly awry during his Strip debut.
Exiled from the stage, Mel and Toby flee the lights of Las Vegas for the streets of Amsterdam where a cabal of old-time magicians, real magicians like Toby, try to rescue him from his despair. But he’s haunted by the trick that failed, and obsessed with using his powers to right his mistakes, leaving Mel to wonder if the love they share is genuine or merely a fantasy, conjured up by a lost magician looking to save himself from being alone.
Ivy Pochoda’s spellbinding and cinematic storytelling seamlessly fuses timeless magic to modern-day passion. Haunting and beautiful, The Art of Disappearing is an imaginative and captivating love story destined to enchant readers for years to come.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:40:28 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Mel Snow marries Toby Warring, a magician, shortly after meeting him and slowly comes to realize that his magic is not an act but an unusual power that he doesn't always control. After a death at one of his performances, Toby becomes obsessed with using magic to correct past mistakes, and Mel finds herself increasingly swept into a world of illusions.… (more)

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