Theories of Missingness: An Intro & Draft of a Mission Statement

Published by Robert Lunday on

In February 2023 my hybrid memoir, “Fayettenam: Meditations on Missingness,” will be published by the University of New Mexico Press. In this blog, I plan to write through, around, under, and over the book I have written. What will appear between covers, after all, is a coalescence: years of writing, reading, researching, thinking, cutting, adding, quitting, starting over, reimagining, and seeking the opinions of others, through which I tried to make a more-or-less linear book.

I call it a hybrid memoir, because though the main thread in “Fayettenam” is a family narrative, several other threads are woven through. Those threads come from my obsessive, totalizing effort to recreate a human experience at the individual, local levels and at higher, social, worldly strata of missingness as a shared experience and as a grand figure of human identity beyond missing-personhood as a literal phenomenon.

Most of my writing life, when at work on a theme, I’ve been compelled to read every book, poem, article, story, novel, play, lab report; watch every film, find every painting, sculpture, opera, symphony, ballet, monument, building – every constructed thing that intersects with that theme, until the theme becomes All. This time, somehow, I was able to cut, frame, and shape a work that someone thought readable and publishable.

Left behind in many folders on my computer are the outtakes, research, and varied notes; fragments, alternate possibilities, other books I might write someday, or that others might take on.

In this blog I’ll start and re-start some of those alternate versions. I’ll write into the fragments and outtakes to find where they lead. One starting goal is to see how the real, social, human problems of missingness can be reframed through the prisms of creative nonfiction – how social, political, legal, psychological, or spiritual responses to missingness come together in new ways.

Categories: Missingness


Christi · July 16, 2022 at 6:47 AM

Congratulations on the new site, new book, new blog, Robert. I look forward to reading your posts.

Debi Haley · July 17, 2022 at 10:56 PM

So proud of you. The theory of “missingness” has touched the lives of our family members in many ways and touches the lives of millions every day. Even though we have gone on with our daily lives it is always there, lurking in the back of our minds, the wondering “what happened? why?” I know you and our baby brother have spent the better parts of your lives searching for answers, coming up with none yet at the same time coming up with so much information it is overwhelming and becomes impossible to put in to some kind of order so that it makes sense. I cannot wait to read your new book because I feel like all the information you have searched for and gathered has been used to create this amazing book! Maybe we never will have the answers we want and need but I think your knowledge and your sharing will help us all find some peace. I love you my brother

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