Vanishing Twins

A Marriage

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Book Description

“[Dieterich’s] writing is crisp and intelligent . . . She writes about her own reckoning with her sexuality and exploration of queer identity without becoming pat or coy, giving readers intimate access to her fears and conflicting emotions.” –NPR

For as long as she can remember, Leah has had the mysterious feeling that she’s been searching for a twin–that she should be part of an intimate pair. It begins with dance partners as she studies ballet growing up; continues with her attractions to girlfriends in college; and leads her, finally, to Eric, whom she moves across the country for and marries. But her steadfast, monogamous relationship leaves her with questions about her sexuality and her identity, so she and her husband decide to try an open marriage.

How does a young couple make room for their individual desires, their evolving selfhoods, and their artistic ambitions while building a life together? Can they pursue other sexual partners, even live in separate cities, and keep their original passionate bond alive? Vanishing Twins looks for answers in psychology, science, pop culture, art, architecture, Greek mythology, dance, and language to create a lucid, suspenseful portrait of a woman testing the limits and fluidities of love.

About the Author

Praise For This Book

Praise for Vanishing Twins

Shortlisted for the 2019 Pacific Northwest Book Award
Named a Best Book of Fall by NYLON

"It's exactly this tension between retaining your individuality and absorbing yourself into someone else that unfurls throughout Vanishing Twins . . . Her writing is crisp and intelligent, she relies on architecture, Greek mythology and even language to place her relationship in the context of a wider world . . . Dieterich maintains her searching, inquisitive voice throughout Vanishing Twins. She writes about her own reckoning with her sexuality and exploration of queer identity without becoming pat or coy, giving readers intimate access to her fears and conflicting emotions." --NPR

"Leah Dieterich's memoir, Vanishing Twins, is filled with that specific sharp agony; it echoes with longing, vibrates with the effort Dieterich undergoes as she pushes the boundaries of who she is, both as an individual and within the context of her marriage. Within both realms--the individual and the partnered--Dieterich explores what it means to have options and to choose one thing over another; she and her husband open their marriage, and she explores what it means to expand and maintain connections to another person and to herself. All of this exploration is done in the kind of beautifully written fragments that lodge inside you after reading, so that you carry these thoughts around inside of you, exploring the themes until they become, if not your own, then something shared, and elevated, because of it." --NYLON

"In many ways, Dieterich's provocative, poetic memoir is about wanting more than what we--particularly as women--are told we can have. It is a meditation on openness and constraints, on partnership and absence, and it hinges on Dieterich's experience of a period of polyamory within her marriage, a time during which both she and her husband explored relationships with other partners while also staying tethered to one another. But it is also a book about making choices, and knowing that those decisions are best made after thoroughly exploring the available options, and also fully getting to know ourselves in the process." --NYLON

"A gorgeous portrait of marriage that is searching, fractured, [and] humane." --Marina Benjamin, New Statesman, One of the Books of the Year

"Vanishing Twins is more than a memoir about love and marriage. It's a literary experiment in both structure and subject, a novel mix of theory and story." --Rebecca Schuh, Bookforum

"Dieterich's book tells us there isn't any one way to create a sexual life and I'm grateful for that invitation . . . [Her] voice is inviting, the prose simple and confident and I found myself thinking of the narrator while I was away, making connections between my own life and hers. Twinning, you might say." --Entropy

"Is 'magical' too big a word to describe this memoir? No, it isn't. In this ethereal yet psychologically astute memoir, Dieterich analyzes the story of her life--from aspirations as a ballerina, to her work in advertising, to her experiment in an open marriage--through the lens of her search for her missing metaphorical twin. Vanishing Twins is composed in short, often page-long chapters that each sear powerful images about love, monogamy, and what we ask of the people in our lives, onto the mind." --Refinery29

"As Leah Dieterich beautifully explores in her new memoir Vanishing Twins, an open relationship can allow two individuals to make room to discover who they truly are--within and outside of a relationship." --Bustle

"Her book is a dance, moving adroitly through brief, philosophical, and thought-provoking fragments." --Bustle

"Vanishing Twins paints a portrait of Leah Dieterich's open marriage and offers meditations on love, sexuality, and identity. You'll devour this honest memoir that beautifully broaches subjects we don't talk about enough." --Hello Giggles

"A mesmerizing story that merges fluidity and structure, your mind floats through waiting for more. It is reminiscent of Maggie Nelson, Leslie Jamison, and Sarah Manguso . . . It's a book that you will keep following along to see Leah's next move." --Girls at Library

"In such disintegration lies room for redefinition, and Dieterich describes that messy process with a level of intimacy that often amounts to bravery. The marriage at the heart of Vanishing Twins may snap back into its original shape eventually, but from the inside it feels bigger than before." --Lambda Literary

"Vanishing Twins is a stark commentary on social norms and expectations, choosing to fully delve into these subjects as a whole rather than focus on singular experience . . . Timely and vital . . . A stunning and fascinating narrative that delivers a startlingly touching blow." --Popscure

"Like the great essayists, [Dieterich's] probing mind struggles to understand itself, and she makes fascinating connections between a range of subjects from pop culture to psychology to literature to help figure out who she is and what she wants. Vanishing Twins is a powerful, poetic memoir, both emotive and cerebral, that casts new light on the familiar issue of relationships, marriage and storytelling, and vividly articulates some of the most subtle aspects of human relationships in a way many readers will recognize in themselves." --Longreads

"A perspective on marriage and relationships that cannot be categorized. I have referred to it so many times since I finished the book. Read this if you want to redefine the humanness of being in a relationship." --Eliza Wexleman, MyDomaine, One of the Best Books of the Year

"Leah Dieterich's stunning memoir Vanishing Twins is a poignant exploration of identity and open marriage, and one of the year's most thought-provoking books." --Largehearted Boy

"Are you fascinated by twins? I know I am, and in pop culture, twins have always occupied a unique space. When Leah Dieterich began researching Vanishing Twin Syndrome, a gestational illness in which one fetus absorbs another fetus, she realized that this idea really resonated with her as she approached nonmonogamy in her marriage. Intimate memoirs are sometimes difficult to pull off, but Dieterich's marriage with Eric and partnership with Elena is really captivating." --Bitch Reads

"A quick and thought-provoking read . . . In the end, Vanishing Twins reads as a love letter--a testament to two people who love and respect each other enough to give each other space to explore, make mistakes, and grow." --Gertrude Press

"Dieterich chronicles her romantic life in this intimate and passionate memoir, which focuses on the link between identity and love. . . . The narrative . . . is seamless, as she traverses a period of uncertainty and questioning into comfortably claiming her queer identity." --Publishers Weekly

"In this ethereal and heady memoir, Dieterich paints a stunning portrait of her marriage and her lifelong search for twinship. . . . Poignant and extremely hard to shake." --Booklist

"Dieterich fully embraces the art of introspection in this unique memoir. Her prose, dispatched in pagelong ruminations, establishes thought-provoking connections . . . In these poetically written episodes, the author ponders the nature of love, attraction, and identity through literature, pop culture, psychology, femininity, and the delicate nuances of being a 'beautiful and controlled' ballerina. Graceful snapshots of a life that lyrically coalesce into expressive declarations of identity and intimacy. --Kirkus Reviews

"Dieterich is unfailingly open to her own curiosities, which makes for an engaging read . . . The instinctual nature of Dieterich's exploration is the charm of her voice and narrative style, reflecting the motions of the ballets she loves, reflecting her way of dancing with vocabulary, turning words around and around until she spins out from them. This is an artist's memoir as much as it is a writer's--she plays with image, language, and ornamentation in ways that are as much for sheer aesthetic pleasure as they are to further the narrative, and yet she keeps the narrative feeling lean and necessary." --Eve Ettinger, The Adroit Journal

"The themes in Vanishing Twins are at once timeless and contemporary: what does it mean to be both wife and artist, both partner and individual? Leah Dieterich's singular explorations of these ideas paired with her sharp, nimble sentences made it impossible for me to put this book down." --Chelsea Hodson, author of Tonight I'm Someone Else

"I'm captivated by Dieterich's naive but searching and intelligent narrator; the connections she ties between typography and twinning and ballet and sex are unexpected and frequently magical. I love this book." --Sarah Manguso, author of 300 Arguments and Two Kinds of Decay