Things gone missing. People vanished or changed beyond recognition. A once-bedrock belief now so alien as not to seem believable anymore. A woman’s threat of suicide. A man’s phantom limb. Another who comes home from prison only to find that home is no longer what it was, friends no longer who they were. Love gained, love lost. A promise forgotten. A couple gone off the grid into the woods and ghost-plagued madness. An exceptionally ill-timed death.
These are among the many scenarios explored in the pages of In Absentia. What we have assembled here is a literary compendium about the presence of absence. From Joyce Carol Oates’s story of a young protagonist whose devotion to working with bonobos at a zoo leads him on a journey far beyond the normal districts of primatology to Karen Hays’s essay on a wide spectrum of subjects—not the least of which is the metaphysics of the fourth dimension—these works attempt to observe the unobservable, to see what isn’t quite there.
We are honored also to include three previously untranslated “dramolets” by Robert Walser as a special feature. Walser, who personally knew more than most about loss and absence, is seen here in a fresh light thanks to Daniele Pantano and James Reidel’s deft translations. I want to thank Dr. Petra Hardt of Suhrkamp Verlag for her generosity in granting us permission to publish these historically important pieces. I believe that readers who already admire Walser’s vision and achievement will find his remarkable plays a cause for celebration.
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By the Time You Read This
Up the Hill
Next to Nothing
Prospects Of and At
The Girl with the Prefabricated Heart
Suspension as a Unit of Experience; or, What She Remembered of the Vanishing Lines
The Collector's Beginning
In Each Room, Some Unadorned Spectacle
The Silver World