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This Is Salvaged


by Vauhini Vara

This Is Salvaged by Vauhini Vara X
This Is Salvaged by Vauhini Vara
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  • Publishes
    Sep 26, 2023
    208 pages
    Genre: Short Stories

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  • Judith M. (Granville, OH)
    This Is Salvaged by Vauhini Vara is a collection of 10 short stories about the individual search for meaning and connection with other people. Ranging from a story of two teens phone solicitors, of a failed sister who is trying to be a loving aunt, of the remnants of a burned ark that are salvaged, of a step-mother trying to forge a relationship, of the unknowns, of hormonal women, of the sisters of a dying child, of a daughter's search for a relationship with an unknown father, to a story of dying. Each is a look into the inner thoughts of those having the experience. This would be an excellent book club choice because the layers and depths that could be explored.
  • Julie Z. (Oak Park, IL)
    This Is Salvaged
    As I have aged, I find myself more drawn to short stories, with Alice Munro and Jhumpa Lahiri being the standard-bearers. In this collection, Vauhini Vara proves herself to be a welcome addition to the genre. The ability to look at the darkness found in so many lives and be able to temper it with a keen sense of humor is what stood out to me in these inventive tales. In the title story, Marlon, an artist working in found objects, says of his wife "Irina had married him because she found him charming at first, and he had married her because he loved people precisely to the extent to which they found him charming". Ultimately, people are the found objects in Marlon's life -easily come upon and then replaced.
  • Helia R. (Goodlettsville, TN)
    A heartbreaking and hilarious collection
    I savored every single one of the ten amazing stories that make up this slim collection -- limiting myself to one story a day -- and still, it was over too fast. I felt slightly bereft when finished. What connects these stories that explore common enough tropes such as coming-of-age, addiction, the transient nature of art, loneliness, and grief, is their heart and utter originality. Vara's voice is so perceptive that it's easy to immerse yourself in the various lives of her characters to the point where you feel their anguish and shame, joy, and confusion as your own and come up with your cheeks burning. Given the stunning writing at every level, I rate this one a perfect FIVE.
  • Becky S. (Springfield, MO)
    This is Human
    Wow, I had not read Vauhini Vara before, but after reading this collection of short stories, I am definitely going to go back and read her first book , The Immortal King Rao. In This is Salvaged, we read 10 stories, all completely different, but with the common thread of human ness. Each main character has something deep inside of them that makes them feel different and vulnerable. Each story left me wanting to know more, but also with many emotions to think about . Some of the stories were short, and some were longer, but they all left me feeling empathy towards the main character.
    I highly recommend this great read !
  • Linda W. (Maplewood, NJ)
    Walking with Witnesses
    A brilliant collection of short stories that take you on a walk with survivors. You will become a witness to human nature in motion. The characters of these stories , although only glimpsed for a short period, run the gamut of emotions. Varna looks at the world through a microscope and binoculars at the same time.
  • Claire M. (New York, NY)
    This is Salvaged
    I don't think I've quite read anything like This is Salvaged. These are stories whose characters are all seeking an intimacy of some sort, salvaging something from the sought after, whether it's a piece of art, one's sanity, something out of one's grief, sisterhood.

    Some stories end with a jolt, some discuss things we usually don't and each is a story about a person and their reckoning with the strange world around them.

    These are explorations of what it is to be a child, a parent, ex-lover, sibling, neighbor-the connecting parts of the world. There are diverse ways of finding one's way in a world where Vara places her characters. In "The Irates", a sister whose brother has died is joined by her best friend as they venture into a restaurant to get their money's worth of egg rolls and ultimately end up filling their grief and searching for intimacy as phone sex workers. Each story asks you to get into the mind of the characters. Think of building Noah's Ark, an alcoholic woman wanting to be a good aunt, the many desires of 18 girls.

    Vara writes with precision and invention. Her prose is to the point. Read this book.
  • Patricia G. (Washington, DC)
    Excellent second publication by this very talented author
    "This Is Salvaged" is Vauhini Vara's first book since the award-winning, bestselling novel "The Immortal King Rao". This collection is ten short stories, all of them perfectly polished, stand-alone creations (in other words, these are not stories that are linked together by theme or characters). She explains at the end of this book that she first started writing these in an introductory writing class, which makes me believe that several of them pre-date her debut novel. I had the unexpected good fortune of being very busy at the time I started the book, so I could only read one—maybe two—stories a day. This is how I recommend future readers approach this book. It will give you time to absorb and fully appreciate her writing.

    Several stories offer a real gut punch. "The Irates" is the tale of two teenage friends, one of whom has just lost her beloved brother to cancer. The girls find themselves hired for the summer by a newly established and very sketchy telemarketing firm, located above a Chinese takeout restaurant. They deal with their grief by trying to sell things to strangers. The saddest story (in my opinion) is "I, Buffalo", narrated in the first person, about a struggling alcoholic who is completely failing in every aspect of her life and is unexpectedly visited by her successful sister and beloved niece. "What Next" is told from the point of view of a single mother, whose teen-age daughter is meeting her father for the first time, with predictably heartbreaking results. The title story, "This Is Salvaged", takes place over a three-year period in which an artist builds an arc according to the directions in the bible. The ending seems to be surprising, until you have time to consider the story as a whole.

    Vara is an excellent writer, and this slender book will not disappoint you.

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