A few weeks ago Ivy Pochoda revealed intellect, humor and passion in her responses to this post, yet she certainly didn’t tell all. Instead this debut novelist likely left you wondering where The Art of Disappearing would beckon and tomorrow – September 15, 2009, its release day – all readers will be able to fall under Ivy’s storytelling spell.
Simply visit the PRESS page on the author’s website to discover elite critics and peers who have already been beguiled. Here’s a sampling:
“Ivy Pochoda has written a lyrical novel that will enchant you with a love story and with poetic, evocative prose.” — Marilyn Dahl, Shelf-Awareness
“Pochoda’s seductive debut novel is a phantasmagoric exploration of the ever-shifting line between destiny and coincidence.” — Carol Haggas, Booklist
“Ivy Pochoda has written an uncommonly good first novel about the unlikely love between a lonely woman and a most unusual magician. It’s a magical story, full of passion, heartbreak, and wonder.” — Peter Hedges, author of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
“The inside of Ivy Pochoda’s head must be a very loud place. In this beguiling first novel, she brings an acute eye and vivid imagination to the ordinary details of life. The result is magic itself.” — Rebecca Johnson, author of And Sometimes Why
“Ivy Pochoda’s language is hypnotic, her story refreshingly original. Most important of all, the characters she conjured made me ache. Prepare to let go of the mundane and embrace the fantastical in this well-imagined debut. It is utterly spellbinding.” — Amy MacKinnon, author of Tethered
Amy MacKinnon’s words are what initially attracted The Divining Wand to discover this debut author beyond her pages. After all any Fairy Godmother is required to seek out magic. However, with regard to Ivy, what was found combined practical magic, extreme talent, and characters who talked her through the story.
Raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. by parents involved in publishing, a young Ivy attempted to deny her dream of writing fiction. Her reason: “I was worried people might have perceived my desire to write as something that came from them [her parents] not from myself.”
Another rather telling part of the writer’s background can be found by reading her Athletic biography. Taking up the sport of squash at age eight, only two years later Ivy was on the U.S. Junior squash circuit. And, while majoring in classical Greek at Harvard, she also led their squash team to three national championships and was named a four-time All American athlete. After graduation professional competition followed and the writer, documenting her experiences and observations for Squash Magazine, earned international ranking along with three gold medals in her appearances at the Pan American Federation Cup.
Significant? Absolutely! For the voice of The Art of Disappearing has both a bold confidence and subtle finesse to its tone that promises the reader from page one that it will take this story to the edge without compromising or giving in to traditional expectations. As lyrical, lushly vivid and poignantly philosophical as the novel is, it’s believed that Ivy’s mental discipline and sportsman’s courage makes it so.
Also remember Rebecca Johnson’s praise of the author’s “acute eye” because once the book is opened every page becomes alive to the reader. Whether it’s the neon glitz of the Las Vegas strip, its desert outskirts, rushing rivers, the Red Light District of Amsterdam and, of course, the magical acts, all are as detailed as possible. That may seem like magic in itself but, again, consider an athlete’s trained eye to take note, being aware of everything.
For a perfect example, read an EXCERPT from The Art of Disappearing.
And so begins this exquisite novel of a magician and a textile designer based on the question of whether love can be real if so much else is an illusion.
Since much of the story’s enchantment comes from these two characters, I asked Ivy about their backstory. But, as might be expected, neither has one. According to the author: “Well, both Toby and Mel were born entirely from my imagination. There is no aspect of either of their characters that is in any way inspired by anyone I know. This made it both wonderful and difficult to write them. I could be as inventive as I wished, but I had nothing to fall back on when I was unsure of how they would speak or act. They are a truly strange and interesting pair.”
Strange? Well actually Toby is not the only one who offers up real magic by waving his hands or dipping them into the air around him. He can seemingly create anything, but then there are Mel’s hands. With her touch on fabrics — of any type — she can hear music, voices and even life stories. In fact what the magician’s wife listens to from other’s patterns weave into her crowded being to cause worry as well as wonder.
For the romantic reader Mel and Toby are apt to be considered soulmates. Both are lonely, both are searching for a lost loved one and both want to believe in happiness. Yet happiness for one may never feel the same for the other.
After reading about seventy pages of this book, my mind began repeating the phrase, “happiness is just an illusion.” An experience that’s never happened to me before! Mid-way through the story, the phrase became this lyrical sentence: “Happiness is just an illusion filled with sadness and confusion.” And by The End, this had been added on: “What becomes of the broken-hearted who had love that’s now departed? I know I’ve got to find some kind of peace of mind maybe.”
Although familiar with the song, “What Becomes of the Broken-hearted,” I haven’t heard it in years. Yet, since words are powerful and Ivy’s story is filled with magic, could it be that as my hands turned the pages they picked up an appropriate theme song? Maybe.
The Art of Disappearing is brilliantly enchanting. Ivy Pochoda will dazzle you as well as provide pause for reflection on what creates true happiness. In other words this novel is pure magic…no wand required!
And then there is The Divining Wand’s Book Giveaway. To enter please leave a comment describing a magical reading experience you’ve had. The deadline is this Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced in Thursday’s post.