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Praise for The Art of Disappearing

“Wonder filled and wonderful.”

—The New York Daily News

“A terrific page-turner about a stage magician and a traveling textile designer who meet in Vegas and marry two days later, and all the mystery and mayhem that ensues.”


“There’s a nice wistfulness in Pochoda’s writing that makes you root for her characters.”

—The New York Post

“A lyrical novel that will enchant you with a love story and with poetic, evocative prose.”

—Shelf Awareness

“The Art of Disappearing has been compared to The Time Traveler’s Wife, but Ivy Pochoda’s prose is lusher, her characters more melancholy, her style more mysterious.”

—The Rumpus

“Pochoda’s debut is a magical tale of romance and loss, sweet and heartfelt.”


“Pochoda’s seductive debut novel is a phantasmagoric exploration of the ever-shifting line between destiny and coincidence.”


“An uncommonly good first novel about the unlikely love between a lonely woman and a most unusual magician. It’s a magical story, full of passion, heart-break, and wonder.”

—Peter Hedges, author of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

“In this beguiling first novel, Pochoda brings an acute eye and vivid imagination to the ordinary details of life. The result is magic itself.”

—Rebecca Johnson, author of And Sometimes Why

“Ivy Pochoda’s language is hypnotic, her story refreshingly original. Most important of all, the characters she conjured made me ache. Prepare to let go of the mundane and embrace the fantastical in this well-imagined debut. It is utterly spellbinding.”

—Amy McKinnon, author of Tethered

“Ivy Pochoda’s brilliant first novel convinces us of the magic of reality, and the reality of magic. A seductive delight for all the senses, not least, the sixth.”

—Galt Niederhoffer, author of The Romantics

To my parents, of course


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen


A Reading Group Guide


I married Tobias Warring in the Silver Bells All-Nite Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. It was a conventional start to our unconventional story. And it was an attempt to conjure something solid from the wind-scattered sands. Our faces were bathed in the pink and purple lights of the Stardust Casino flashing through a two-by-two-foot window behind the priest’s head. Our witnesses were a couple of underage punks from the QuikTrip who demanded a six-pack for their services. “Have a nice life,” lisped the boy with three rings through his lip, ripping the ring top from his beer. His girlfriend, anxious to reclaim her spot outside the convenience store, gnawed her chipped nails. The priest, an elderly Mexican in tinted sunglasses, complained about working the graveyard shift and told us he’d once led a pilgrimage of fifty blind children to the Corcavado, but had since fallen on hard times. He closed his Bible, switched off the crackly tape recorder playing “Love Me Tender,” and it was over.

We toasted our wedding at the Treasure Island casino with pink cocktails garnished with canned pineapple impaled on miniature sabers. We spent our wedding night at the Laughing Jackalope Motel. Our first kiss had been suggested by the priest: “Joos may kiss if joos want.”

I’d met Toby two days earlier in the Old Stand Saloon, which logged overtime as a casino, hotel, nightclub, restaurant, and employment center in Tonopah, Nevada—a five-minute town whose limits were marked by the Shady Lady brothel on the west and the Cherry Tree on the east. The black waiter, younger than the rest of the employees by at least thirty years, had a mouthful of shining teeth, sunken and scattered like forgotten headstones. When he told me that a man sitting in the back of the restaurant wanted to buy me a drink, his words whistled through the impressive gaps in his mouth. He said that the man had suggested white wine to go with my shrimp parfait. “Sounds good,” I replied, trying to peek at the stranger through the dingy reflection in the restaurant’s window. But all I saw was the waiter threading his way back to the bar, carefully avoiding an old man with an oxygen tank who was struggling to play the slots.

“I think the man in the back booth on the left,” the waiter said when he returned with my wine, “would like to join you.” He set down my glass with a wink that was misinterpreted by a retired madam at the next table eating the landlocked surf-and-turf special. She returned the wink, letting a shrimp tail drop from her lips. The waiter ignored her. “It’s good to bring a little magic into your life,” he added, showing me his disorderly teeth once again. “Not much blowing through this town nowadays,” he continued, applying a graying cloth to a corner of my table. And then he lowered his voice. “He’s a magician.”

His quiet words reverberated through the restaurant. The eaters, the toothless chewers, stopped scratching their silverware on their plates and stared at the waiter, whose voice had shattered their slot machine soundtrack. The no-nonsense town of Tonopah seemed uncomfortable with magic and the magician. With a censorious lip smack, the retired madam tucked the tip she was going to leave the waiter back into her purse.

So I allowed Toby Warring to enter my life. “Send him over,” I said, smiling at the waiter while twirling my wineglass on the uneven table. As I waited for the stranger to approach, I stared out the window, imagining a brief respite from my hours in empty buses and unfamiliar airport terminals—a momentary release from the hush of motel rooms and the solitary clink of my fork against my plate. I allowed my mind to wander, wondering whether the magician might, for a moment, make this particular set of surroundings feel like home.

As Toby approached, the jangle of the slot machines in the next room became a distant bassline clank, and their flashing lights spun into a steady orange glow. The silent eaters were content, for an instant, to savor their food, forks to their

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