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Echolocation Paperback – 6 Mar 2012

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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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 16 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Literary Fiction at its Finest 24 Feb. 2012
By Katrina Denza - Published on
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
A Perfect Little Book 19 Feb. 2012
By Sara Habein - Published on
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
An absorbing psychological journey with a payoff at every turn 4 Feb. 2013
By Richard Bon - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Myfanwy Collins leads readers on an absorbing psychological journey in the lives of compelling characters, some with whom we can't help but sympathize, others we can only detest. The prose itself has a mystical sort of quality to it, a smooth flow allowing readers access to the wandering mind's eyes of multiple characters, showing us their fantasies, their fears, and their often desperate desires. The path itself enthralls and then, as readers reach each of the main character's final destinations, Collins delivers the payoff every time.

Geneva's journey is arguably the most transformative, certainly in the physical sense but mentally as well. Her emotions run the gamut from innocence to heavy guilt, her decisive action in the face of imminent danger cold and calculated, yet sacrificial in nature. By the book's end, readers can only hope she'll go on, somehow able to cope with all she knows about her own capabilities.

Cheri and Renee, daughter and mother, run from one another and from the rest of their family, only to come full circle. Geneva's sacrifice occurs for their benefit and that of Cree, the baby they nearly lose, and readers are left hoping that Geneva's actions on their behalf will be worth their toll.

Rick's ride up the east coast, chasing Renee, disturbing but realistic, ends the way we all hope it will as we read it.

For a novel not short on deaths, Collins' tone is one of hope, in my opinion. Hope that humans, in spite of all of our boredom and angst and fear, can persevere. No character is a better example of this optimistic notion than Auntie Marie, whose spirit acts as a guiding light for Geneva, Cheri, and Renee in specific situations and in a more general sense throughout the narrative.

I hope Myfanwy Collins, whose flash fiction I always enjoy, follows this novel with others; I'll surely read them.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Strange, sad, compelling, gritty, dead-honest and beautifully wrought. 18 April 2012
By Kathleen Fish - Published on
Format: Paperback
I read my friend, Myfanwy Collins', debut novel, ECHOLOCATION the moment I got my hands on it. We've been friends for many years and I've come to love and respect her and her writing enormously. And I'd seen a few excerpts of her novel when she was writing it and was hungry to see the finished product.

What I've always, always admired about Myfanwy's writing is her singular ability to write gorgeous, lyrical prose even in the midst of telling a gritty, honest, story. You get that with ECHOLOCATION, but you also get the benefit of her masterful plot direction, her ability to set several subplots in motion while conveying a number of distinct characters and points of view. That takes incredible skill. The story has been synopsized in other reviews, so I won't go into that here. But I will say that this is that rare and beautiful thing: the literary page-turner. The story holds you captive from page one. The writing is amazing and cinematic. I could see and feel everything going on at the funeral for the lost limb at the book's beginning. And well, any story that involves a funeral for a lost limb pretty much has my unqualified endorsement.

Also, if you can get your hands on the audio book, you must listen to it. Heidi Faith does a stunning job of bringing the voices of the characters and the story of ECHOLOCATION to life. I listened to it a few weeks after reading the book and loved it.

Strange, sad, compelling, gritty, dead-honest and beautifully wrought. If you have not already read this impressive debut novel, I urge you to do so.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A real page turner! 12 May 2012
By Donald Capone - Published on
Format: Paperback
I didn't know much about the plot when I began reading this novel, but immediately got sucked into the story. Geneva and Cheri were raised as sisters by their Aunt Marie after Cheri's mother, Renee, ran off years before. Now, suddenly, Renee returns home with an infant in tow. (Cheri also had just recently returned home after the death of Marie.) Now the three surviving women must deal with their estrangements and personal issues head on--and hands on.

This is literary fiction with plot, action, and tension. Collins' prose is elegant, but also lean and mean; as beautiful as the writing is, she doesn't shy away from the dark, the gritty, and the cold part of life. Her use of short sections from the different characters' POV (including some secondary characters) show their thoughts and motivations, of course, but also drive the story forward efficiently and quickly. Collins continued to surprise me throughout the book, as the story went places I hadn't expected.

This is also a very visual novel. I was right there with the characters, stomping through the snowy woods to the old quarry; waiting out the ice storm in the safety of the family's store/home as ice pellets hit the windows; having a drink in a seedy bar. And, of course, in the climactic scene. Though the three lead women were flawed, I cared about them, and couldn't put the book down until I saw how it all turned out.
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