Some people make us feel more human and some people make us feel less human and this is as much a fact as gravity is a fact…
Elyria leaves home one day to go to New Zealand without telling anyone, without much of a plan as to what she’s looking for or why. She has the address of a farm handed to her by a near stranger. She has a few hundred dollars and a backpack. The first car she manages to flag down, the driver warns her not to accept a ride from men. But she does, and her disjointed, uncertain journey takes her to the stranger’s farm and back without any real revelations that help her control what she calls her wilderbeest. That animal part of her that pushes her apart from humanity, that makes her flee, that makes her struggle to make sense of the world.
I have long, long sections of this novel transcribed into my notebook. The breathless run on sentences, the unhinged narrator, the inspire an urgency in this slim novel. I read it in a weekend. It’s the novel that forces you into “just one more page” brinkmanship with yourself when you really should be cooking dinner, or at midnight when it’s time for sleep. Now, I realise there was a bit of a glut books about of unhinged women out there, most of them with “girl” in the title, but having not read any of those I found this particular novel compelling, urgent and somehow darkly humorous. Elyria has taken leave of herself in the most complete way possible but I also felt that the world, and those who claimed to love her, hadn’t invested a in her sticking around anyway. The ending is open, and while I was a little unsatisfied, I didn’t see how Lacey could have ended the story any other way.
Nobody is Ever Missing, Catherine Lacey: Three and a half stars.
Publisher: Granta Books.
Release date: December 24, 2015