Upon receiving my copy of Vanishing, Candida Lawrence’s writing was relatively new to me. The fourth offering in a series of standalone memoirs, Lawrence’s stories cover various stages in her life, from childhood father-daughter power struggles to marriage and child-rearing to aging. Her writing covers a vast array of life experiences and the resulting emotions.
Lawrence vividly describes experiences that have happened to many other women. In a story about abortion, she presents all of the female characters with dignity. Their distinctive personalities explain their own reactions, giving flavor to their diverse backgrounds.
The piece about her elderly parents was too much for me to swallow—I don’t do well with geriatric indignities—and I had to put the book down several times during that part. I managed to finish it, but it just reaffirmed my belief that when my own body starts to decay, I’m walking off into the ocean, or something like that.
Despite the serious nature of many of the painful topics in Vanishing, Lawrence injects the writing with frequent humor. Even amidst the bowels of sagging flesh and dementia, I found myself laughing.
One topic that I was curious about concerned her pieces about sexual intercourse and infidelity. She has a dream about her guy, Jack, with another woman. Packing her dog up, she heads out to his home to see if her dream was correct. Watching the two, she describes their sex as rather bland and mechanical with no kissing. In another story, she sleeps with Jack and it’s about as electrifying as doing the laundry, although there is a loving embrace from their years of being together.
I wanted to know whether sex was that boring for her generation, or is her writing simply mechanical when it comes to the more risqué scenes? Despite that question, her honesty about how she sees the world is engaging. There is an acceptance of life and the unpredictable. Lawrence does not resign herself to the struggles and give up, but pushes forward.
Some of these stories are not for the weak-hearted, or those in denial. Proceed with the expectation to feel many emotions.