Awayland - Ramona Ausubel

Staff Pick

Descending from a peak in Hawaii after weeks of training for life on Mars, a character is stunned to find “so many miraculous far-aways” on Earth. Throughout these eleven sensitive, humorous, and surprising stories, Ausubel’s restless characters move from place to place, often on impulse. “I didn’t know where I would like my life,” one says. Others look for the best place to have a child---or the best place to die. Eros and Thanatos hover over most of these pieces, covers for the deeper fear of loneliness. Ausubel worries the twin themes of parenting and mortality through many variations: a Minnesota mayor announces a contest to raise the town’s low birthrate. A woman helps her gay friend conceive a child and relishes the thought that a child would always be hers, unlike a lover. (Another story shows this as wishful: here a mother and daughter come no closer than playing two separate games of solitaire.) Then there’s death. A woman in Beirut is turning to fog and disappearing around the edges. A collection of mummified animals is startled to find that the afterlife is a museum. Shipwrecked passengers discover that “not dying was the surprise.” For couples, the big question is who will go first. In one story, it’s the husband, in another the wife. In the book’s longest piece, “Remedy,” the couple, both orphans, both already afflicted with survivor’s guilt and a “general predisposition for death,” concoct an elaborate plan to stay together, but in the end  have to learn to live with the uncertainty. As varied as its settings, Ausubel’s prose can be spare, fierce, propulsive —sometimes all at once; reading her is like “being punched in the heart by the world.”

Awayland: Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594634901
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Riverhead Books - March 6th, 2018

Share this

Membership Benefits


 Gift cards can be used online or in-store.

Gift Card