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Books

Cover for Missing Persons
Missing Persons
Julia Glass, Chang-rae Lee, and others
A woman throws over her old life for a vision of her future self. A man tries to reconcile with his dead wife's memory. An unborn child gets an earful about the LA dating scene. In each of these five stories, the character who beguiles us is the one we never see. The missing person steals the show.
Why We Love It
Our March pick was a long novella and our April pick was a medium-sized novel, so to make sure you were getting a balanced diet of fiction we decided to devote May to shorter works.

Here we have a collection of two novellas and three short stories that all involve, in one way or another, a missing person. No one has been kidnapped. No one has been sent a ransom note. But there is great loss in these pages, nonetheless. As well as great hope, resilience, triumph, despair.

In National Book Award-winner Julia Glass's "Chairs in the Rafters", it's an impossible future self who haunts the pages. In Chang-rae Lee's "Daisy", which first appeared in The New Yorker, and Justin Taylor's "Carol, Alone" it's a great love, gone. In Jessica Langan-Peck's "Slab", the missing person is right in front of us, if only his wife could see him, and in Edan Lepucki's "If You're Not Yet Like Me" the missing person is an unborn child steeped in her mother's brilliantly caustic commentary.

From tragedy to darkly twisted comedy, each of these stories is narrated by a voice so unforgettable we suspect they'll become your own missing persons - ghostly presences you carry with you for many years to come.
Cover for Swann in Love
Swann in Love
Marcel Proust
Charles Swann, a genteel womanizer, meets a pretty coquette he doesn't find particularly appealing. But through the transporting beauty of a sonata and the resemblance of a Botticelli painting, he works himself into an obsessive passion for this woman, which then becomes an all-consuming jealousy.
Why We Love It
Take your time with this one. These pages have a good story to tell -- a man constructs his entire sense of a woman out of his own artistic sensibilities and then falls victim to his vision. But telling the story is only a small part of the point here. The unique pleasures of Proust come from the intricate perfection of his sentences and the subtlety of his psychological portraits. We made these installments shorter than usual to give you the chance to savor.

The missing persons here abound. Charles Swann has fallen desperately, obsessively in love, but the woman he loves, Odette, is nowhere to be found in this affair. It isn’t just that Swann can't see her through his own constructions. It's that he doesn’t want to, in part because in loving her he's rediscovering his own lost self, missing for years in a haze of easy indulgence. And then there's us and all our objects of affection: Proust shows us how we so often create romantic love out of nothing but our own longings.