Vauhini Vara dives deep into the vast strangeness of the human experience with This Is Salvaged: a collection of 10 short stories navigating the emotional landscapes of feeling lost, and the longing for meaning that ensues such helplessness.
There’s a common thread between the lives that Vara constructs. An urgency; a desperation; a longing for something greater than themselves; to fill the hole of what they have individually lost. Yet this commonality is not lost on the Pulitzer finalist’s ability to create stories that are monolithic in their own right, showcasing a different side to the author’s writing sensibilities with every new chapter.
One standout, The Hormone Hypothesis, reaches into the lives of two women on a friend date, swapping stories of motherhood, perimenopause and their experiences of grief, all while capturing the vulnerability at the crux of female friendship. Then there’s I, Buffalo, a candid look at the subtleties of addiction, and one alcoholic’s attempt to find meaning elsewhere – in the love for her niece.
Grief and sickness underpin these stories, and although naturally sombre, Vara doesn’t relish in its melancholy, highlighting instead what can remain after loss. With each instalment, the author points out to us saying, “This is salvaged, this is salvaged!”
This Is Salvaged, Vauhini Vara (Grove)
Price: £12.99/£6.99 Ebook. Info: here
words RHYS JAMES