Death and Other Holidays
The 2017 Miami Book Fair/de Groot Prize winner, this debut fiction introduces a distinctive new American voice.Funny, tender, and wholly original, Death & Other Holidays is a year in the life of a young woman coming to terms with the death of her beloved stepfather, while attempting to find love in LA. We are introduced to her friends and family, as she struggles to launch herself out into the world, to take the risks of love—the one constancy in all the change.Told with a great good humor and underlying affection for all her characters, Death and Other Holidays announces a brilliant and assured new voice in American fiction.

Death and Other Holidays Details

TitleDeath and Other Holidays
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseNov 13th, 2018
PublisherMelville House
Rating
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Relationships

Death and Other Holidays Review

  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    This little book is being promoted as a novella, but I'm more inclined to think of it as an appetizer than a small entree. It is, to me, not a full-bodied story, but a collection of images. The author is a poet who has published one work of poetry, At the Border of Wilshire & Nobody, and I'd be curious to read it. She has a strong knack for capturing the essence in the room, a bit like the photographer protagonist herself in the story. Death and Other Holidays is a tribute to our senses; in This little book is being promoted as a novella, but I'm more inclined to think of it as an appetizer than a small entree. It is, to me, not a full-bodied story, but a collection of images. The author is a poet who has published one work of poetry, At the Border of Wilshire & Nobody, and I'd be curious to read it. She has a strong knack for capturing the essence in the room, a bit like the photographer protagonist herself in the story. Death and Other Holidays is a tribute to our senses; in it you find the look and the feel of every room, every setting. What I didn't find here was character depth or believable dialogue. And, truth be told, Ms. Vogel wouldn't be the first poet to struggle with capturing the way others talk. I think of the poet as the person who sits quietly on the rock, away from the group, missing most of the conversation around them, but the same person who goes home later that evening and manages to capture, brilliantly, in words, the way the sunset looked smeared across the sky in purple fingerpaint on that day.Also, the minutiae in this book was tiresome. The protagonist, April, seems interested in giving the reader the running details of every shopping trip, every inventory of the items in the frig. Here's one example:By the time I got to the checkout, my basket was full: five ears of corn, a bag of radishes, a pound of carrots, five apples, three oranges, two heads of lettuce—butter and red leaf—an orange pepper, three onions, one basket of mushrooms, a quarter-cut cantaloupe, two lemons, and an avocado. The bill was $92.47. I had some non-produce items, too.Oy! Make it stop. I go to the grocery store a minimum of three times a week to feed a family of five and I don't want to look at another goddamned grocery list as long as I live. Please, please. . . tell me instead that the grocery clerk is Jamaican and his ass won't stop in those jeans. Tell me that you've been trying to make eye contact with him for months, and when you finally did, you dropped your infernal shopping list in surprise. Next thing you knew, you were in a back storage room, holding on to his dreadlocks for leverage as you struggled to maintain your balance on a crate with your inner thighs, but DO NOT TELL ME THAT YOU'VE GOT SOME NON-PRODUCE ITEMS, TOO.You've got this, Ms. Vogel. You can do this, you can write prose. Just make sure and look away from the sunset sometimes and listen to the people standing around you in the dirt, talking. And abandon the lists, okay?
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  • Alena
    January 1, 1970
    I'd recommend reading this lovely novella in one setting because, while it's not poetry, it's lyrical and beautifully paced. Covering one year of grief and living, it's cadence is an important part of the storytelling. No great revelations here, but a lovely way to spend an evening with a talented voice. I hope she has more to say.
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  • Janet
    January 1, 1970
    The quiet everyday beauty of this little book bowled me over. A loosely linked year of tiny stories, divided into sections by season, of a young woman dealing with the deaths of men--her stepfather, recently, and her father--by suicide--years before, how one death opens up the entire subject you think was closed, the central story interwoven with her interactions with the world and with men in her dating life. While the men in her life seem to move in a steady flow, her best friend is a pillar-- The quiet everyday beauty of this little book bowled me over. A loosely linked year of tiny stories, divided into sections by season, of a young woman dealing with the deaths of men--her stepfather, recently, and her father--by suicide--years before, how one death opens up the entire subject you think was closed, the central story interwoven with her interactions with the world and with men in her dating life. While the men in her life seem to move in a steady flow, her best friend is a pillar--almost a Greek chorus of one--weighing in on the protagonist's situation. Each story is told with such a light touch, it's like watching a feather on your fingertip, and yet it deals with the difficulties of growing up, the difficulties and strangeness of other people, the lingering absence death leaves. Vogel is a poet, and handles these small moments of living so beautifully... it's like watching someone make an omelette or wash dishes, and then suddenly take a pirouette, arabesque, and go back to washing dishes. I look forward to rereading this novella-in-stories for years to come. Note, it's published by Melville House--a publisher I always watch for, which specializes in novella-length work. Always handsome editions, and this is no exception.
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  • James
    January 1, 1970
    Perceptive and quietly charming, Marci Vogel's first novel is the unassuming but sneakily profound story of a year in the life of a young woman grieving the death of her loved stepfather. A friend's marriage, a new relationship, depression and an old dog are the foci around which the story moves, capturing the beauty and awkwardness of life. Not a word is wasted, and Vogel manages the neat trick of making reading about the experience of grief, an inherently boring thing, fascinating and even fun Perceptive and quietly charming, Marci Vogel's first novel is the unassuming but sneakily profound story of a year in the life of a young woman grieving the death of her loved stepfather. A friend's marriage, a new relationship, depression and an old dog are the foci around which the story moves, capturing the beauty and awkwardness of life. Not a word is wasted, and Vogel manages the neat trick of making reading about the experience of grief, an inherently boring thing, fascinating and even funny.
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  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    This book broke my heart and made me smile. Her language is clear and poetic in all the best ways. If you love Lorrie Moore or Amy Hempel, you will probably love Marci Vogel. I can't wait to see what she writes next.
  • Mare
    January 1, 1970
    The structure of this book is engaging - a novella with quick chapters. The story arc is a familiar one, done both in nonfiction and fiction, death followed by life. We're exploring a terrible tragedy, in this case two father figure deaths, one current and one many years ago. And the gathered threads along the way include some apartments, boyfriends, best friend's wedding and career. The author makes good use of her small canvas in terms of communicating necessary and even poetic plot and confli The structure of this book is engaging - a novella with quick chapters. The story arc is a familiar one, done both in nonfiction and fiction, death followed by life. We're exploring a terrible tragedy, in this case two father figure deaths, one current and one many years ago. And the gathered threads along the way include some apartments, boyfriends, best friend's wedding and career. The author makes good use of her small canvas in terms of communicating necessary and even poetic plot and conflict advancements; however, the ending is just too Disney. Yes, sure, a parent is killed in the beginning of nearly EVERY Disney tale, but the end, the end is joyful and perfect. Who needs their parents anyway? This author wraps up every single thread in such a neat bow I was actually annoyed. Tossed the book across the room annoyed. So grateful it wasn't a 500-pager, I prolly would have thrown it out the window. I mean in 2019 do we still have to make everyone happy at the end in order to talk about death?
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  • Janine
    January 1, 1970
    The perfect novella to read in one sitting (one laying?) in bed on a Sunday morning. The beauty of day-to-day life — buying produce, planting a garden, going for a drive, a dog nuzzling your hand with its nose — amidst a backdrop of loss, and love. A wise book written so well, it seems as if it wasn’t written.
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  • Vanessa
    January 1, 1970
    this book. the quiet, sad beauty of this small book.
  • Alan
    January 1, 1970
    Interestingly good.
  • Khine
    January 1, 1970
    Read this book if you're finding for a lovely quick read. For me the writing is what makes it enjoyable rather than the story. Read the book in one sitting just because of the lovely style.
  • Jo
    January 1, 1970
    Lovely.
  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    A charming story of loss and discovery told by a young woman mourning the loss of her father. The author’s deft prose and light touch make this a pleasure to read.
  • Ardent
    January 1, 1970
    I have no idea what to make of the last paragraph, but I loved the book overall.
  • Gina
    January 1, 1970
    1.5 - 2 starsBuzzFeed News calls Death and Other Holidays a stunning meditation on loss, love, and our powerlessness in the face of time. BuzzFeed News' review is as vapid and pointless as the book. Death and Other Holidays is not stunning; it is sluggish. It is not a meditation; it is a collection of essays, journal entries, or blog posts that Marci Vogel pulled together and managed to get published. Who is Marci Vogel, and why do I care about about her community garden or her losing an earring 1.5 - 2 starsBuzzFeed News calls Death and Other Holidays a stunning meditation on loss, love, and our powerlessness in the face of time. BuzzFeed News' review is as vapid and pointless as the book. Death and Other Holidays is not stunning; it is sluggish. It is not a meditation; it is a collection of essays, journal entries, or blog posts that Marci Vogel pulled together and managed to get published. Who is Marci Vogel, and why do I care about about her community garden or her losing an earring? She is a poet, which may explain how she manages to write lovely words whilst simultaneously writing overwritten grammatical garbage. Instead of writing Victor and I always slept late, Vogel writes, Victor and I, we always slept late. How about this nugget of nonsense? We cast Wilson's ashes into the bay, emptied the box to the sky. They blew out, and all the hope that ever was, I tried to imagine what happens to hope that's mixed with ash. What is Vogel saying? Without complete sentences and periods, I am at a loss as to how to decipher it. Not every book needs to be deeply plot-driven, but what is it with these books in which almost nothing happens? I have neither the words (other than piss off or sod off) nor the strength to address the ridiculous ending. Other than the essays in which she discusses her father (death by suicide) and her stepfather (death by cancer), the bulk of the book is (as Johnny Rotten may or may not have said) boring, Sidney, boring.
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    Vogel offers a straight-forward piece that dives directly in like a one night stand with no strings attached. Protagonist April is in her late 20’s, living in Los Angeles and working as a curatorial assistant. The novella includes her narration of a series of events that take place over the course of a year following the death of her step father. Chapters are very short with sections broken up by season. This book is a very quick read.Vogel’s writing style is fabulously direct. Without overbeari Vogel offers a straight-forward piece that dives directly in like a one night stand with no strings attached. Protagonist April is in her late 20’s, living in Los Angeles and working as a curatorial assistant. The novella includes her narration of a series of events that take place over the course of a year following the death of her step father. Chapters are very short with sections broken up by season. This book is a very quick read.Vogel’s writing style is fabulously direct. Without overbearing and complicated sentences, she still evokes imagery and creates dynamic characters. Death and Other Holidays seems to shed new light on everyday occurrences and give meaning to the mundane. This would be a great read for an airplane ride because there aren’t pages and chapters of introduction, the story grabs from page one.
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  • Evelyn
    January 1, 1970
    An unassuming series of episodic images and instances, wrapped with a bow and masquerading as a novella, about grief and how it intertwines itself with daily life. Vogel tells each story like she is sitting in the room with you, like you're being handed a photograph.Death and Other Holidays is neat and charming that way. Everything wraps up just fine.That's how grief works, sometimes: it sneaks into the crevasses of your life, while memories wrap themselves around even the most mundane things yo An unassuming series of episodic images and instances, wrapped with a bow and masquerading as a novella, about grief and how it intertwines itself with daily life. Vogel tells each story like she is sitting in the room with you, like you're being handed a photograph.Death and Other Holidays is neat and charming that way. Everything wraps up just fine.That's how grief works, sometimes: it sneaks into the crevasses of your life, while memories wrap themselves around even the most mundane things you do. You don't have to be perpetually sad. Sometimes, you just feel, and it is just that inexplicable. Vogel captures it perfectly.A quiet read, great for finishing in a sitting.
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  • Latkins
    January 1, 1970
    Set in 1998 and 1999, this novella tells the story of a year in the life of its narrator, April. At the beginning, in the spring, her stepfather Wilson has just died, and she is grieving for him. Her father and mother split up when she was a child and her father committed suicide when she was a teenager. Now in her late 20s, she's living alone after her roommate Libby has moved out to live with her fiance Hugo. The story takes us through the year in short chapters, highlighting a moment from her Set in 1998 and 1999, this novella tells the story of a year in the life of its narrator, April. At the beginning, in the spring, her stepfather Wilson has just died, and she is grieving for him. Her father and mother split up when she was a child and her father committed suicide when she was a teenager. Now in her late 20s, she's living alone after her roommate Libby has moved out to live with her fiance Hugo. The story takes us through the year in short chapters, highlighting a moment from her present or her past as she come to terms with Wilson's death and goes through several relationships. Life and death in miniature, somehow made more profound with the ordinary details of the everyday. A short but memorable novel.
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  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed the structure of this novella, which read more like a memoir then fiction. Brief snapshots carry the reader through a year of grieving after the loss of a beloved stepfather. However, the many comma splices, timeline mistakes, verb tense mistakes, and other poor editing choices were more than mildly distracting. Even the blurb inside the front cover of the dust jacket is poorly edited.As far as the story itself goes though, I wish more had happened. A bit of a story arc wouldn't have b I enjoyed the structure of this novella, which read more like a memoir then fiction. Brief snapshots carry the reader through a year of grieving after the loss of a beloved stepfather. However, the many comma splices, timeline mistakes, verb tense mistakes, and other poor editing choices were more than mildly distracting. Even the blurb inside the front cover of the dust jacket is poorly edited.As far as the story itself goes though, I wish more had happened. A bit of a story arc wouldn't have been too much to ask. The ending just annoyed me. It was like a few lines of poetry were tacked on to the end of a slow-moving story. Some of the description was well-written, evocative even. But this isn't the book I will remember reading, although I think the author has potential.
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  • Chelsea
    January 1, 1970
    “She said she’s afraid of losing her mind, her memory, of being erased, so every day she takes a photograph of something, and that way she won’t lose her life when the time comes. I thought it was a good idea.”Relatable, authentic, unfussy and somehow transcendent. Proof that everyday moments can be so much more than the sum of their parts, that grief can be softened or sharpened by happiness, that life goes on. Stylistically reminiscent of Hunter’s The End We Start From. Stellar, already can’t “She said she’s afraid of losing her mind, her memory, of being erased, so every day she takes a photograph of something, and that way she won’t lose her life when the time comes. I thought it was a good idea.”Relatable, authentic, unfussy and somehow transcendent. Proof that everyday moments can be so much more than the sum of their parts, that grief can be softened or sharpened by happiness, that life goes on. Stylistically reminiscent of Hunter’s The End We Start From. Stellar, already can’t wait to revisit this.
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  • Suep
    January 1, 1970
    Like the many other reviews, this is a quick lyrical read about grieving. April is twenty something and living in LA. She’s experiencing “life”, finding herself, meaning/purpose, and coming to terms with deaths of father and stepfather. The story is told through quick stories throughout the year 1998-1999. The ending is abrupt and like what happens when this happens, many questions are left unanswered. Will make for good discussion.
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  • ANGELICA A
    January 1, 1970
    Slow start, the middle was great, the ending was extremely abrupt and a little disappointing. I understand that the book is poetic in nature and we are working with vignettes of time and space but I really thought I had another chapter left when I turned the last page and came to the acknowledgements. Not entirely disappointing, like I said the page 30+ really sucked me in, I am just left with little closure.
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    This is like looking into a life of a diary. The pieces of details about the death of her beloved stepfather, the unwritten details of her father's death and how she deals with these are just enough information to see what she is feeling. Her fear of falling in love with someone who may take his life, like her father. Her questions of will love really last, is it real. These small details is what made this work of art believable.
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  • Evanne Lindley
    January 1, 1970
    This little book really won my heart. It’s short and simple but full of amazing prose and dialogue. Sure, the characters aren’t as fleshed out as they might be in a full novel, but you have enough information to fill in the blanks. The themes are strong (death, depression, family, love) and the love story is simple and sweet - one of the best I’ve read in a while. I was thoroughly won over. Plus you really could read it in one sitting!
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  • Christa Van
    January 1, 1970
    Grieving her beloved step father, April finds herself at drift a bit. She is open to romantic love but has a series of mediocre relationships when she meets Victor, brother of Hugo who is marrying her best friend. Victor has some issues of his own but together they find a way forward as she deals with her grief. Lovely story telling easily consumed in one sitting.
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  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    I felt this book to my core. It is a beautiful look into loss on a day to day scale. A little bit tragic, a little bit uplifting and hopeful. And damn that final paragraph! I finished reading this book last night and haven't been able to get it out of my head since. This is one of those books I will enjoy to read many times to come.
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  • Blaire Malkin
    January 1, 1970
    Snippets of a year in April’s life following the death of her stepfather. These snapshots show her process of mourning, addressing depression, and entering a new relationship. Some parts were moving and the concept was interesting, but the ending really threw me and didn’t make sense for the diary style.
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  • Sweedle D'Souza
    January 1, 1970
    Oh wow!This was such an enjoyable read.Short but sweet ! I am a fan of brevity when it comes to books like these. Marci has kept me hooked from page to page, describing her relationships with different people in life especially her late stepfather Wilson and her love interest Victor. I finished this in one go.Good work Marci !!!
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  • John
    January 1, 1970
    I found this a remarkable and deeply wise book--among the best I've read this year. I can't wait to read what Marci Vogel writes next. This novel follows an outstanding book of poetry, and while it is unapologetic prose she can't help but sing. And she sings beautifully.
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  • Bryan
    January 1, 1970
    I thought this was so beautiful and quietly powerful and then I got to the very last sentence and I was like "WHAT?"I will have to think on that ending for a while and, if I don't take it literally, I still love this book.
  • Susan Liston
    January 1, 1970
    It wasn't that this was bad, because it wasn't, but I settled on OK, rather than liked, because although it was nicely written and all, it just seemed like something I've read many many times before.
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