Sunday, November 5, 2017

Nobody Is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey

A young woman goes across the world to go quietly mad

Elyria’s adopted sister jumped off a building. Her mother is an egomaniacal horror. In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, Elyria encounters her sister’s shell shocked professor, a young man whose mother also jumped off a building. The professor and Elyria get married but things don’t go well. Elyria starts to hate him and one day, leaves Manhattan and her great job and travels to New Zealand based upon a casual invitation from a visiting writer. After her husband cancels her credit cards, Elyria must rely on the kindness of strangers. And strangers, though kind, are basically uninterested, as the young woman enters more and more into an alienated state.

The plot wasn’t the point of this novel – it was the superb writing and the meticulous creation of a completely mad claustrophobic world. Little by little Elyria acts outside the boundaries, at first the reader thinks she is just taking a trip, but it is not very long before Elyria acts completely nuts. The New Zealanders start to treat her like she nuts, but Elyria refuses to deviate from her plan. She takes the reader along for the crazy ride. Perhaps her conflict is between the desire to be a supportive wife, sister and mother versus an asshole who needs to find out something about herself. The people in New Zealand react very reasonably to her extreme passivity.

The sadness, which is partly a result of the perfectly modulated voice, is also a function of the reality that no one really misses Elyria. Her husband is dumbfounded that she left and humiliated him. He’s not concerned about her in the slightest. A very unique novel.

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