Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Art of Disappearing by Ivy Pochoda

The Art of Disappearing by Ivy Pochoda
320 pages
Published by St Martin's Press September 2010
Source: the publisher and TLC Book Tours

Mel Snow, working for a textile company that provides the textiles to casinos and hotels in Nevada, is sitting in a roadside bar/casino when she first meets Toby Warring, a magician who can pull roses from thin air but doesn't always seem to have full control over his magic.  Little more than 24 hours later, Toby and Mel are married and soon find themselves in Las Vegas, where Toby hopes to make it big. 

"I married Tobias Warring in the Silver Bells All-Nite Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas.  It was a conventional start to our unconventional story.  And it was an attempt to conjure something solid from the wind-scattered sands."

Mel know that there are a lot of magicians trying to make it in Vegas but she's seen Toby do marvelous things and knows that he's different--his magic is real.  But both Toby and Mel are searching for something and what Toby's searching for may just prove to be more than the couple can handle.

This book grabbed me on the first page...and then it kind of lost me for the next few pages.  Interest in the characters kept me reading.  I wanted to know more about what kind of people find themselves willing to marry a stranger and what Mel and Toby might each be looking for in the desert. 

"For Toby, it was a way to conjure something permanent into his too-malleable world and perhaps, I wondered, to replace someone he'd made vanish.  For me, maybe it was a way to fill a hole torn by my brother's defection - but that was a story I had yet to tell my husband."

Yes, indeed, Toby had made his last assistant vanish and he's desperate to try to find a way to bring her back.  Mel is searching for her brother Max, a water person, who may or may not be dead.  And trying to find those answers helps drive the book to find out answers to greater questions,  such as is love real or just an illusion.

Pochoda is certainly a talented writer, one who can vividly paint a scene:

"Like a fish in a tank, I had grown used to living without natural light since arriving in Vegas and mistook the city's shrunken castles and palaces for the real thing.  I was  was drugged with the lazy promise of simple days, of conveyor belts that moved me, slots that might make me rich, and around-the-world trips that were just across the street."

Amsterdam, in particular, came alive for me.  And the story is unlike any other I've read.  The reviews for The Art of Disappearing rave about the story but, to be honest, my initial reaction to the book stuck with me throughout. I would be pulled in and then I'd lose interest.  There were a lot of characters in the story and they began to clutter up the story of Toby and Mel for me.  I have to admit that the idea of "real" magic was a problem for me; a problem other readers may not have.  To add to my struggle with the book, I never really felt as if Toby and Mel were in love; for example, Mel refers to Toby as "the magician" more often than she refers to him by name. 

I wanted to like the book more, I really did.  In the end, given the raves for the book, I was left wondering if I had missed something.  Other people certainly have different opinions--for more of them, check out TLC Book Tours for all of the tour reviews.


  1. I'm sorry this one wasn't better for you, Lisa. I enjoyed it--didn't love it though. It took me a while to get hooked. And I guess the relationship between Mel and Toby didn't really strike me as false because of how soon they jumped into their marriage and how little they really knew about each other. Plus, I also thought perhaps it may be related to the fact that the story is a recollection of past events. Your complaint though seems to be a common one though so many people felt the same as you.

    One thing I especially liked was the author's imagery throughout.

    This really is unlike anything I've read before too.

  2. It sounds like a love story with a bit of suspense, how to make the disappeared come back? Love the title of the book. Here's a quote from my current read

  3. I'm sorry it wasn't more to your liking. It's still one I want to check out as I'm a sucker for magical realism, and it sounds quite unique. THanks so much for being on the tour!

  4. Well I certainly like the setup - real magic or no. Too bad it wasn't consistently good.

  5. This book does sound rather odd, and your disconnect with the story is something I am going to pay attention to in regards to whether this book would be a good fit for me overall. It sounds as though things were a little uneven all around, so I am figuring that this one might not make the best read for me. Thanks for your honesty in this review!

  6. Lots of people like it, although it doesn't sound like my cup of tea.

    Which is why I am giving my copy away to a more appreciative reader.

    Here is the giveaway post.

  7. That's why I enjoy the tours so much becuase you can really end up with a varied amount of opinions!!! I'm sure the next one will be better!!

  8. I'm posting my review tomorrow for this book. I really didn't like Max's storyline and felt it took from the book (you know I don't have the best imagination for things that can't happen).

    Once he get webbed feet... she lost me!