cover image Disequilibria: Meditations on Missingness

Disequilibria: Meditations on Missingness

Robert Lunday. Univ. of New Mexico, $19.95 trade paper (248p) ISBN 978-0-8263-6467-8

In this ruminative memoir, Lunday (Gnome) reflects on the disappearance of his stepfather. “A funeral offers release, but vanishing has a life of its own,” Lunday contends, weaving together recollections, letters, and literary analysis to contemplate the nature of loss and how losing his stepfather affected him. James Edward Lewis, Lunday writes, left their home in Fayetteville, N.C., one morning in 1982 and hasn’t been heard from since. The author embraces a fragmentary style that reflects his efforts to sort through the clues about Lewis’s fate, as when Lunday unpacks Philip Larkin’s poem “Poetry of Departures” and proposes that “escape is being true to oneself” before noting the distinction made by British geographer Hester Parr between looking (“living your life with an ear open”) and searching (the “no-stone-unturned effort” after something disappears), refraining from explicit analysis and leaving readers to come up with their own takeaways. Letters written to Lunday’s mother by Lewis while he served in Vietnam add pathos, underscoring his love for her and the harrowing combat he lived through. The elliptical prose won’t be for everyone, but the author’s account of learning to live with uncertainty is nonetheless moving. The result is an elegiac if sometimes oblique examination of loss. (Feb.)