Nine Ways to Disappear
By Lilli Carre
Given a little more time, one suspects that Lilli Carre could conjure up a lot more than nine. There are plenty of ways to disappear, and perhaps even more justifications for wanting to do so. It’s a good number though—certainly enough to fill up this beefy little teal volume. And besides, a nice, neat, round number like 10 wouldn’t suit an author so prone to open-ended tales as Carre.
Nine Ways to Disappear is a quiet book of single paneled pages based largely around narration, pieces mostly spun with fairy tale omniscience, a storytelling method well-suited to the magical realism that unfolds in nearly every piece. Mermaids populate these pages as do perpetually shrinking men and living skeletons. But Carre doesn’t embrace the fantastic for its own sake.
The unreal, rather is a means of escape—from reality, from society, from relationships, from ourselves. And true to her title, each piece explores a different means of doing so, some intentional, some accidental, and some—as in the case of a sewing needle that slips silently through a lonely drainpipe—seemingly indifferent to causation.
In that sense, these short stories feel like a logical extension to the wanderlust that persisted in the book’s successor, The Lagoon. But where that book explored Carre’s passion for the aural, Nine Ways to Disappear has more invested in the visual—particularly the artist’s love for old-fashion animation. At moments these stories feel more like the contents of flipbook than a comic.
But as a multimedia artist, Carre is keenly aware that the key moments of a story aren’t always in what you opt to put on paper. In both traditional animation and short fiction, tales unfold by the ways in which our minds connect the images and words and fill in the spaces between. As with The Lagoon, Carre is never one for a convenient ending, and even those tales that take the longest to unfold, such as the multi-layered “The Pearl,” the author never hands us a satisfactory resolution.
After all, even those in life who manage to disappear are never able to do so completely. There’s plenty more to see on the other side of a storm drain.