Reading this, you’d be tempted to think the imagination’s work is to make life more beautiful. And isn’t that plenty? But by the time you come to the sixth story, the wonderful 'Remedy,' a near novella-length meditation on mortality, it’s clear that Ausubel’s imagination wants to do much rougher, harder work: It wants to offer consolation for how ghastly things can get, a type of healing that only reading can provide. All 11 of these stories are deeply involving ... 'Come with me and be adored, deep below the earth,' one of Ausubel’s characters, who happens to be a Cyclops, writes in his dating profile. This doubles as the writer’s invitation to the reader to enter her very private, haunting and beautiful worlds.
Anxious, whimsical, and deeply felt, Ausubel’s stories weave a remarkable and beautiful tapestry of emotion ... they deemphasize the presumed centrality and greatness of the United States in favor of a more global view of the world ... Over and over again, characters underestimate and misunderstand lands not their own, and always they are humbled by those spaces, by the un-Americanness of it all. Throughout, Ausubel’s irony-tinged third-person narration conveys the limitations of her characters’ simplistic beliefs ... Ausubel’s signature ability to create atmosphere is in full force throughout Awayland ... By also touching upon social and political issues, she adds a new layer to her work that invites readers to move away from their comfort zones as well.
It’s great fun to watch Ausubel’s enormous imagination at work and to share the joy that emerges from her writing ... Ausubel’s prose is assured and often lovely, descriptions and insights presented in new and different ways. ... California love threads its way through many of these stories. But no matter where you call home, you’ll find much beauty and insight throughout this collection.