Book Review: The Withdrawal Method

Pasha Malla’s The Withdrawal Method is a bittersweet collection of stories on life and relationships. He has the ability to pull in the reader by the raw responses and feelings of his characters: a boyfriend thinking of what he would keep if his girlfriend dies in The Slough, catching your father masturbating to a porno in Pushing Oceans in and Pulling Oceans Out, searching for pedophiles in chat rooms in Timber on the Wheel of Everyone, and being comforted by the sound of desperate weeping in Long Short Short Long. It’s revealing and also awkward. Maybe one of the most shocking and best reads in The Withdrawal Method is Big City Girls. After the boredom of being stuck at home on a snow day takes effect, a younger brother and sister, along with her friends, fantasize what it would be like to live in the city. Their innocent child’s play becomes warped into a dark fantasy of rape and revenge. Each of his stories leave you staggering into the next one surprised, amazed and in the end reassured. Pasha Malla is my new favorite writer. He has the power to see beyond the conventional storytelling tradition and explore the weirder and untapped side of the everyday that I love. Generally, the withdrawal method is considered to be a risky and messy approach, but in the case of Pasha Malla it is the most effective and safest bet. (Andrea Nene)

by Pasha Malla, $29.95, 319 pgs, House of Anansi Press, 110 Spadina Ave, Suite 801, Toronto, ON, M5V 2K4

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