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Echolocation [Paperback]

Myfanwy Collins

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Book Description

6 Mar 2012
Sometimes the voices that call you home lead you astray... Cheri and Geneva grew up on "a little patch of nothing made up of dairy farms in the valleys and boarded up iron-ore mines in the mountains, a town of old folks waiting to die and young people dying to leave." Now, Cheri has fled that life for the city, leaving Geneva behind to care for their aunt as she succumbs to cancer. Her death draws them together, forcing them to face their past-and each other. When Cheri's mother turns up with a strange baby and a dangerous secret close behind, the choices that follow will push all of them beyond boundaries they never thought they'd cross. In this stunning debut novel, Myfanwy Collins lays bare the hearts of three lost women called together by their own homing instincts in a season that will change their lives-and the place they call home-forever. "Myfanwy Collins tells a deep and resonant story about people she loves, and along the way shows us how to love them as well." -Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina and Cavedweller "Myfanwy Collins' debut novel calls to mind the grim and radiant work of Daniel Woodrell. From page one, I was chilled by the landscape, caught up in the trouble, and riveted by these women of northernmost New York who slam back together and figure out how to live with what's missing." -Pia Z. Ehrhardt, author of Famous Fathers and Other Stories "Fearless, elegant, and accessible, Echolocation is literary fiction at its best. With heartbreakingly beautiful prose, Myfanwy Collins tells a gripping and tender tale of broken souls yearning for wholeness. These are characters who will stay with you long after you turn the last page. It's a dazzling debut!" -Ellen Meister, author of The Other Life "Myfanwy Collins has the goods. It's that simple. Echolocation is about love in all its magnificent slipperiness; it's about how secrets bind us rather than rend us; it's about the endless series of personal reinventions we call a lifetime. And these are things we had all better be thinking-and reading-about, if we plan to try and get out of this alive." -Ron Currie Jr., author of God is Dead and Everything Matters! "A moving and delicate novel, tracing the poignant destinies of women who long for a home they never had." -Laila Lalami, author of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits and Secret Son "Get ready to fall madly, sadly in love with the fiction of Myfanwy Collins." -Benjamin Percy, author of The Wilding and Refresh, Refresh

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More About the Author

Myfanwy Collins was born in Montreal, Canada, grew up in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, and now lives on the North Shore of Massachusetts with her husband and son. Her work has been published in The Kenyon Review, AGNI, Cream City Review, Quick Fiction, and Potomac Review. ECHOLOCATION, her debut novel, is forthcoming from Engine Books in March 2012. A collection of her short fiction, I AM HOLDING YOUR HAND, is forthcoming from PANK Little Books in August 2012.

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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Literary Fiction at its Finest 24 Feb 2012
By Katrina Denza - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Be prepared. Haunting, mesmerizing, "Echolocation" is a page-turner you will not be able to put down until you've reached the end. It's the story of four women connected by family and the bleak, harsh, land of northern New York. Some have escaped, but they're all brought together again by tragedy and secrets they thought they'd left behind. There's Auntie Marie, dying of cancer, the two girls she raised, Geneva and Cheri, and Renee, Cheri's mother, who ran away to Florida not long after Cheri was born. Cheri returns to help Geneva with their aunt, and Renee shows up unexpectedly with a secret that will change them all.

The characters in "Echolocation," men and women alike, are flawed in the best, most fascinating, ways, and though they make mistakes, they are not beyond redemption, not beyond our empathy. Collins clearly loves her characters, weaknesses and all, and that authorial love elicits a similar compassion from the reader. These four women are fierce. Auntie Marie's devotion to Cheri and Geneva is as strong as her devotion to God; Cheri is determined in her self-destructive desire to deny her feelings; Geneva's strength in carrying on with life after a devastating accident is remarkable; and Renee finally discovers she's capable of caring for another more than herself.

This is a complex story, told with an assured, deft hand. Collins is a master at weaving story lines together in an artful, spare way. Every word is well-chosen. Every nuance is perfectly placed. "Echolocation" is literary fiction at its finest.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Little Book 19 Feb 2012
By Sara Habein - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Echolocation is a perfect little book about reality hitting hard. It's about necessary roughness and begrudging tenderness, and it swallows one up while reading. I certainly look forward to experiencing more of Myfanwy Collins' work.

The writing has a very serene quality to it, even when terrible things are happening. The chilly, Northern scenery is nearly its own character, with the pine scent in the air to the absence of power on stormy nights. I can see it -- though it is perhaps colored with my Montana-version of Canadian border wilderness. Inside the store and Marie's home have other personal-yet-personally-familiar details, with memories of past holidays and the proper way to cut a sandwich. These women may feel incredibly screwed up most of the time, but they have their own way of forging on. Everything in this slim book serves a purpose, and that purpose sneaks up at the end in such a way that I have to admire Collins' skills. The details are at once circular, woven, and carved like puzzle-pieces, everything straddling the line between inevitability and choice. I highly recommend this book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical prose with gritty characters and a gut punch story 13 Dec 2013
By Len Joy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Even though I know I should know better, I have an expectation (prejudice?) that if a book is labeled “LITERARY” it’s going to be slow-paced, introspective and probably have characters that are graduate students or tortured artists.

Echolocation grabbed me right from the opening scene. It is fast-paced and the underclass cast of characters are very very real. I’m pretty sure none of them have been to grad school.

This story reminded me in some respects of the film “Winter Bone” with its hardscrabble characters. It would make a great film. But read the book first because it’s beautifully written.

This book has been well reviewed on Amazon. I liked Kathy Fish’s observation that the prose is lyrical while the story is gritty and honest.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous Writing, Haunting Characters 8 Oct 2013
By L. Young - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Myfanwy Collins writes like an angel with a devastating left hook. "Echolocation" knocked me out but good -- dreamy, deceptively gentle prose infused with grit will pull you in from the first page, make you feel a bit unsure, unsteady, but in a good way (think Alice Hoffman with a dash of Charles Bukowski), then POW, you're down for the count and loving every minute of it.

Yes, I used a boxing metaphor. I can if I want!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Place Defines Character 29 Aug 2013
By Nan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The setting in this evocative novel becomes a character. Not only does it establish a backdrop for the action; we get to know each character by the way she/he interacts with it. This story could not take place anywhere else. The cold, eerie starkness reflects the haunting plot while it also grounds the action. These characters, especially the women, are products of this environment. They in turn embrace it then allow it to help define them: strong, sometimes fierce, yet beautiful, they and their story are remarkable achievements.
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