Synopses & Reviews
One man follows his wife, who is following another man. Earlier, that first man follows a bird out the window. Later, he doesn't follow a dolphin into the ocean. The earth quakes, lives are threatened, and a dolphin swims free. With deadpan humor and skewed wordplay, Deb Olin Unferth weaves a mystery of hope and heartbreak.
"In this enthralling headscratcher of a first novel, Unferth (the story collection Minor Robberies) weaves an intricate tale of quests and escapes, of leaving and following. As a child, Myers falls out of a window, shattering his skull and unknowingly living the rest of his life with a misshapen head. Years later, he follows his wife, who spends her evenings following a man she doesn't know. The man, whom Myers identifies as a former classmate of his named Gray, is unaware that he is being doubly tracked. The marriages of both men fall apart, and Myers finds himself on 'vacation,' traveling in search of Gray while Gray's ex-wife and daughter look for him, too. The problem is that 'Gray does not know where Gray is.' If this all sounds puzzling, it is; still, with grace and skill, Unferth manages to weave together the most far-fetched of events. A subplot involving a dolphin 'untrainer' and a woman in search of her birth father is distracting, and Unferth's wordplay can verge on the excessive, but a poignancy emerges in spite of Unferth's post-modern indulgences. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Deb Olin Unferth is one of the most daring and entertaining writers in America today. She is an artist who knows that every sentence is an opportunity to have it all music, invention, narrative drive and hers most definitely do. This novel is tricky, odd, unnerving, hilarious, and ultimately quite scary, not to mention very, very moving. We may or may not deserve this Vacation, but we are lucky to have it." Sam Lipsyte
"Part mystery, part sonata, Unferth writes like a musician plays, weaving images and themes and melodies with these beautifully rhythmic, funny, heart-breaking sentences. The whole novel should be read aloud and relished." Aimee Bender
"In visionary, original prose, Deb Olin Unferth's wonderful, quirky Vacation briskly sends forth its characters on their expectant journeys of self-discovery. Sentence by sentence, Unferth surprises and makes profound sense of what it is to be alive and how easily a lifesuit may be shucked off: "You won't even feel it." Loud applause should follow this accomplished entertaining, funny, sad, solemn book." Christine Schutt
"Deb Olin Unferth is, I believe, one of the crucial literary artists of her generation. Her fictions give evidence of an artist determined to speak about the remarkable, who manages with exactitude all elements necessary to produce the well-made, eccentric object. Her vision evokes high comedy and the violence of tragedy heard through voices exquisitely particular to her mind." Diane Williams
"Wonderful, addictive prose. Ms. Unferth sure knows how to turn a phrase and it's a delight to follow her across the American landscape." Gary Shteyngart
A man follows his wife. The wife follows a stranger. The stranger leaves town and the man goes after him, determined to settle the score. But the man is not the only one looking for the stranger, and the stranger has troubles of his own. Amid all this, the earth quakes, a boy leaps out a window, and a dolphin swims free. Of course people have adventures of this kindof course! of course!but weve never heard of it before. With deadpan humor and skewed wordplay, Deb Olin Unferth weaves a mystery of hope and heartbreak.