“'Nobody Is Ever Missing' is composed mostly of long, languid sentences that push into the night like headlights. They’re the sign of a writer settling in for a long backcourt game, one who is going to wear you down rather than go in for the kill. Sometimes these sentences lose their way, stall out or end up doubling back on themselves. Just as often, they are improbably beautiful, or simply cool and knowing.”—
I loved this book so much and am thrilled that it received such a positive review today.
My two favorite books so far this year, ‘Nobody Is Ever Missing’ and Roxane Gay’s ‘An Untamed State’, both follow women (Elyria and Mirelle) who have suddenly left their homes - albeit under t r e m e n d o u s l y different circumstances. They’re two women I will not soon forget. Two women who are as deserving of your attention as the writers who created them.
Whatever I was doing before today was the thing I did then but now it's now and I need to do something else.
Rebooting this morning. I got up at 5:30 and walked the dog for an hour. I was free and easy with my hellos to strangers on the street. I got to where I was going faster than usual, or at least it felt that way. I was just trying to make sense of everything and so time moved differently. Nothing was open for coffee except for a little vegan place, painted pink. The dog sat placidly outside. I bought yogurt and raspberries after that. Just before I got home, I saw my handsome, married neighbor who smokes cigars at sunset on the roof by himself. We beamed at each other. In my apartment I lit a candle, I scrubbed the stove. I took down a piece of art from the wall, wrapped it up in a bag, put in the closet. Just so I would never have to look at it again. I moved some other pieces around on the wall behind my desk. Just so I could have something new behind me. I might order an office chair, too, I’ve been thinking about that. Just so I could have some new kind of support. Then there was the making of the lists. My lists are serious. They are designed for radical alteration and also for success. #7: Whatever I was doing before today was the thing I did then but now it’s now and I need to do something else.
This is what I do. A kind of secret I’m letting you in on. I line my lips with a Nars rose tinted pencil, I pat my eyelids with fine Lorac powder, I dab a rosy MAC stain on my cheekbones - which are lost these days but then like magic they appear, blossom colored, vibrant, almost like they…
“There’s a certain standard-issue pose for the young person of literary ambitions in New York. Cynical and slightly bored-seeming on the outside; thirsty on the inside: disillusioned with the whole idea of “believing in anything,” exhibiting a generalized scorn of government, religion, politics and philosophy, as well as a set of received feelings about women, and about “respecting” women. Very rarely will anyone venture one syllable outside that SOP for fear of imperiling a nascent career. And understandably so, perhaps: in the fishbowl of New York media, the slightest deviation from conventional thinking is so easily magnified that the risk of being blackballed is real.”—
Major pause in a piece/review/essay I otherwise am really into—Is this true? It feels very untrue, but maybe I, a, do not have literary ambitions, b, do not know people who do, c, am again falling prey to failing to see that there is the “book world” and the “media world” and they overlap but aren’t the same. But Maria says “literary” and then says “media.” But this thing she calls standard-issue sounds completely alien, from real life, to me.
Spent some time thinking about Coetzee this morning, how to make small, intimate stories feel bigger than they are. How to invent intriguing bits of architecture that elevate the material. Subject matter helps. An awareness of the political landscape helps. Have an opinion, have a point. Have a throughline. And there are all kinds of amorphous subtleties I’ll never be able to fully grasp or define but I know they’re there. How did he do that? How can I do that? Pray for osmosis. Pray that it just sinks into my skin.
Saturday I threw a party and great people came. Great people! I have this little reading series at my house that I only do a few times a year when the right writers surface and it feels like a party is necessary. Mostly I pick debut authors to read because I have a special affection for young writers and their first books. That’s when you’re at your most unafraid and uninformed. You don’t care what anyone thinks! You don’t hear the reviewer or editor or agent in your head yet. You stumble through it and make your mistakes, and often you end up doing things very, very right - even if it is by accident.
So that was a beautiful night and everyone brought me whiskey and we all went up on the roof afterward and there were people there I was excited to see and they were happy to be a part of it and it was really some kind of magic.
On Sunday I was hungover and then I recovered and then Vannesa & Johnny & Andrew and I all drove in my new car to Fort Tilden and saw Patti Smith read poetry and sing outside at a free show at the park. Patti Smith’s voice sounds the same, and yet even better. I think we all were comforted by her. I felt sentimental for things I haven’t even experienced.
James Franco also read poetry and people were excited by that. He was wearing a trucker hat and sunglasses.
Yesterday was the first day that I felt like I had my life under control in weeks. I accomplished all the regular life kind of things I need in order to be the best version of myself. Also I spoke with an 80-year-old man who knew the woman I just wrote a novel about. I have never met anyone who knew her before. I will say no more about it, because someday I will write about it. But I did feel like the earth was vibrating, and it was just for me. I wish you could step into my shoes for a moment, so you could feel the vibration too.