Nobody is Ever Missing/Catherine Lacey: Reflections

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I don't always agree with the conclusions New York Times book reviewer Dwight Garner draws, but I am perpetually eager for his missives. He digs in deep. He reads and writes on full throttle. He doesn't look back over his shoulder. Garner's recent review of Catherine Lacey's debut novel Nobody is Ever Missing is the reason I bought the book. Lacey's spellbinding talent is the reason I read it through in a single rainy afternoon.

The novel is a no holds barred, desperate unwinding of a woman, Elyria, who leaves her life behind and tells no one where she's going. She has a one-way airline ticket to New Zealand. She has a husband, a mother, a sister who is no longer alive, a job, the trappings of an ordinary life. Trappings. That's the word. She's fleeing the trappings of her life.

She gets off the plane. She has the vaguest of plans. She wants to be alone, leave her alone, leave her to her thoughts, watch as her thoughts unwind, as she does, as she questions everything in sentences and paragraphs that go long across the page. She doesn't wish to be with people, only near them. She doesn't tell her story, doesn't even know her story, addresses her Husband, with whom, in time, over the long-distance wire, on more than one paralyzing occasion, she will briefly speak. The depth of his outrage becomes the novel's deepest silence.

One thing happens, another thing happens, Elly is a young woman taking chances, a human being increasingly alone. She was the original abandon-er. Now the world is abandoning her. She keeps trying to put a stake in the ground. She gives up on Time.
... everyone walks around thinking nothing is going to happen right up to the moment when something does happen, just like time, how it's here one minute and we don't notice it till it's gone—no, it's not like that, I would tell the tree branches if I was the type of person who talked to tree branches or imagined a monologue for a tree's branches—no, time is a thing that is always almost a thing that is never here and never gone and never yours and never anyone's and we're all trying to get a hand clutched tight around time and no one will, so why can't we call a truce, now, Time? I am not asking, I am just saying—I'm calling a truce with time. Truce.
Yes, sure, not everyone will seek out a book that unwinds and unwinds and unwinds and carries itself forward on rafts of blistering thought and sudden violence and utter lonesomeness. Not everyone. But, Lord. Let's make room for Catherine Lacey and her ferocious determination to see this story through, to not rescue it for the Hollywood ending, to take Alone to its final restless resting place. Let's make room for this young novelist, who can do just about anything with words.


Serena said...

sounds like a powerful unwinding...

Bidisha said...

I like writing that unwinds and unwinds - there's a certain power to it. I loved that excerpt. Keeping an eye out for this.

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