The stories in Farnsworth’s The Things She’ll Be Leaving Behind explore what it means to be a woman in the modern world, struggling against circumstances that are often unfair, inexplicable, and destructive. The women in this book don’t always behave in ways that are sensible or advisable or, for that matter, likely to result in success, but there’s a warped logic to what they do and the reasons they do it are intrinsically human. These women have nothing in common except that they all find themselves trying to find their footings, preserve their sanity, and just generally survive in circumstances they never thought they would encounter. They don’t always do it gracefully. Occasionally alcohol or firearms are involved. Just like in real life.
The twenty-eight stories in the collection vary in length, intensity and impact. The short pieces that fluctuate between flash fiction and apologue are interspersed with events where women explore how to pick up a man, with more surreal episodes that deconstruct office reality, or even experimenting with rainfall with God and the devil. The longer stories in The Things She’ll Be Leaving Behind stray into the deep and dark territories of women’s suffering, guilt, and survival. In these tales, anxiety, restlessness and volatility are tapped like raw nerves, and the dangers and menace of events only mitigated by Farnsworth’s savvy use of black comedy and irony. Here women go toe-to-toe with chronic liars, dead grandfathers, beleaguered sons, mysterious voices, unfaithful husbands, midnight callers, spiteful sisters, and hallucinated clowns. Husbands go crazy or wayward or missing. Life hits walls and somersaults and does breathless, tactless things. The end result is fascinating inventive fiction.
Vanessa Farnsworth is a freelance writer and long-time resident of the BC Interior. Her short fiction has appeared in literary journals across Canada and in the US, including The Dalhousie Review, dANDelion, filling Station, The New Quarterly, PRECIPICe, QWERTY, and Reed Magazine. Her memoir, Rain on a Distant Roof: A Personal Journey Through Lyme Disease in Canada (Signature Editions), was widely acclaimed when it was published in 2013.