Nobody Is Ever Missing
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Without telling her family, Elyria takes a one-way flight to New Zealand, abruptly leaving her stable but unfulfilling life in Manhattan. As her husband scrambles to figure out what happened to her, Elyria hurtles into the unknown, testing fate by hitchhiking, tacitly being swept into the lives of strangers, and sleeping in fields, forests, and public parks.
Her risky and often surreal encounters with the people and wildlife of New Zealand propel Elyria deeper into her deteriorating mind. Haunted by her sister's death and consumed by an inner violence, her growing rage remains so expertly concealed that those who meet her sense nothing unwell. This discord between her inner and outer reality leads her to another obsession: If her truest self is invisible and unknowable to others, is she even alive?
The risks Elyria takes on her journey are paralleled by the risks Catherine Lacey takes on the page. In urgent, spiraling prose she whittles away at the rage within Elyria and exposes the very real, very knowable anxiety of the human condition. And yet somehow Lacey manages to poke fun at her unrelenting self-consciousness, her high-stakes search for the dark heart of the self. In the spirit of Haruki Murakami and Amelia Gray, Nobody Is Ever Missing is full of mordant humor and uncanny insights, as Elyria waffles between obsession and numbness in the face of love, loss, danger, and self-knowledge.
of its way, so I did and I found his mother’s death certificate and it didn’t say suicide in the cause-of-death box, it said accidental, and my chest went warm for a moment because my first thought was that my husband had lied so that he could say he’d felt what I’d felt, that he knew what it was like to see a person lose herself to herself, that he’d created a fiction so he could get near the stuff of life that I was in. And if he had lied then what a horrible thing to spend such a long time
and feelings back into decisions and I’ve discovered that my machine has been put together in a strange way and it translates life in a strange way but I have no way to fix this—I’m not a brain-machine fixer, I’m just a haver of a brain, like anyone, and none of us know how to fix ourselves, at least not entirely, not well enough. Now I know how to sit still, how to accomplish my job, how to walk home, how to order a sandwich at the diner, how to pay a bill, how to sleep in a cold bed, but I
mother had never visited. That was all my name meant: a place she’d never been. The basic idea of a mustache was hanging over Simon’s mouth, and there were these odd wrinkles around his eyes that didn’t agree with the rest of his machine-smooth face. I stared at the pointless hills rippling around us—the trees all captive to the ground, a grey mountain in the distance, stoic and bored—and Simon started a monologue on himself, his autobiography— Been traveling for seven months on the North
kept of me in him, and did the versions of each of us that we had crafted so exactly and precisely for the other person, did those versions just evaporate, just die, just disappear, just fall out of a building somewhere in each of our brains and if they did then why didn’t we get to have funerals for them? I loved the he that he was to me. I loved him and he is dead and I want a black moment for that man. Give me a black moment for that. 40 The doorman who’d let me slip by was gone and Ray was
mattered—when Harriet made a decision, she would practically burn down a forest to make sure it happened. You’re wasting your good years, she said. All that time you’ve spent writing for other people, you could be putting that energy into your own work. Tell your husband you’re quitting, that you need a year to write for yourself. You know he’ll be fine with it. She’d somehow read the story of mine that had been published many years ago in a literary journal a professor at Barnard had submitted