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On the Way

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by Cyn Vargas

Cyn Vargas's debut explores the whims and follies of the heart. When a mother disappears in Guatemala, her daughter refuses to accept she's gone; a divorced DMV employee falls in love during a driving lesson; a young girl shares a well-kept family secret; a bad haircut is the last straw in a crumbling marriage.


Newcity Lit’s Top 5 Fiction Books by Chicago Authors

Chicago Book Review’s Favorite Books of 2015

Bustle’s 11 Short Story Collections Your Book Club Will Love

Chicago Writers Association 2015 Book of the Year, Honorable Mention

"Cyn Vargas brings her readers a whole world of unforgettable women, old and young, tough and getting tougher. Her narrators must continually negotiate with the tragedy, cruelty, and sweetness of their ever-changing lives, against the twin landscapes of America and Central America. In these fresh, sensual stories, Vargas bravely explores family, friendship and irreconcilable loss, and she will break your heart nicely." 
—Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of Once Upon a River

"First: I flat-out love this book. I do. Second: I love that Cyn Vargas is in the world to have written this book. She’s a mischievously good writer who lures you in with her humor and then breaks your heart in these generous and compelling stories about good people who are often haunted by what’s missing in their lives. Third: If you are reading this, start reaching for your credit card. I want you to buy this book. It’ll be the best decision you’ve made in a long, long time. Trust me."
—John McNally, author of After the Workshop

"It’s rare for stories about childhood, friendship, the elderly, marriage, family secrets, and loneliness and longing to be told with quiet beauty and grace, but the stories in On the Way accomplish just that. Cyn Vargas approaches her characters with a delicate and loving hand, always honest, sometimes angry, but never judgmental. Just like how we approach the people we love—whether we’re bound to them by blood or by choice." 
—Mark Protosevich, screenwriter, I Am Legend, Oldboy, and The Cell

"In her debut collection, Vargas invests her characters with heart while ably articulating their missed connections. An American girl cannot accept her mother’s disappearance while they are visiting relatives in Guatemala; a young woman assaulted by her father after her parents’ divorce cannot forgive her mother for failing to intervene; a diffident DMV employee cannot speak out when he falls for a young woman taking a driving test. VERDICT Moving and accomplished."  
—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal, Spring/Summer, 12 New Collections from Writers To Watch

"Cyn Vargas's debut collection, On the Way, is marked by a sense of universal heartbreak and hope. In a dozen stories that quietly and considerately follow the lives of displaced, alienated Central Americans whose lives revolve around immigration, expatriation and escapes, Vargas shows how deeply many of the world's upheavals affect individuals. Vargas deftly uses a candid, unadorned voice to frame an often unkind world. Her hopeful conclusion in these tales, though, is that nobody is ever truly alone."
—Josh Potter, Shelf Awareness

On the Way is a group of stories that are often about loss, regret, and unrequited feelings. What almost every story demonstrates is the moment in a character’s life beyond which everything will have to change. However, one thing Vargas is willing to show—which many other writers are not—is the painful, often boundless stretch of time between the moment of drama and its distant resonance: her stories echo Alice Munro’s as they leapfrog months, even years, using nothing more than a paragraph break.”
Heavy Feather Review

 “Her language feels like a colorful swirl, whether it illustrates sunny Guatemala or gritty Chicago. Her writing veers between brusque and elaborate sentences, third and first person, but never feels prescribed, always appropriate and real. She’s got, quite simply, a way with words.”
Newcity Lit

“Cyn Vargas has the ability to capture dreamily-fleeting moments other writers overlook. Cyn’s debut collection showcases her sharp humor and keen observations. The stories explore men and women, parents and children, immigrants, abuse, and the struggles of first-generation Americans. Her stories shift elegantly from humorous to gut-wrenching.”
Hypertext Magazine

“The prose in Cyn Vargas’s debut collection, On the Way, has a casual, unforced power. Vargas is a writer capable of sketching out a setting in a few short sentences, and this skill with compression allows her to present a much wider array of fictional worlds than one might expect from such a slim volume.”

“The narrators of Cyn Vargas’s stories tell quiet, deceptively simple accounts of loss, family mysteries, and their earned understanding of their experiences. The stories in On the Way are simple in language and prose style and complex in their emotional freight… Like the balance of the stories, the reader is on sure footing from the first paragraphs. A story map is laid out, and even if we don’t know the path we will follow, the territory and the perspective are well defined. No person is just one thing, Vargas seems to say. We seem to be this, but then we learn more, and discover we are something else instead. Each narrator has a story they know to tell, but a second story bleeds through, a story that speaks of darkness, fear, compassion, or courage, a story that reveals itself in the act of telling.”
Necessary Fiction

Cyn Vargas holds an MFA from Columbia College Chicago, and  is the recipient of a Ragdale Fellowship and the 2013 Guild Literary Complex Prose Award in Fiction. Cyn was named one of Guild's Literary Complex's 25 Writers to Watch in 2014 and  received two top citations in Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers contests. She is a company member of the award-winning storytelling organization 2nd Story. Her work has appeared in Split Lip Magazine, Word Riot, Literary Orphans, and elsewhere. She teaches creative writing workshops around Chicago and online, and can be found online at

Pages: 188
ISBN: 978-1940430478
Publication Date: April 2015

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