Five Questions with Catherine Lacey

Lauren Volo

Lauren Volo

Catherine Lacey's debut novel Nobody Is Ever Missing (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2014), which takes it title from the poet John Berryman, was praised by The New Yorker as "an unlikely page-turner" and by The New York Times as "a post-existential novel." The book follows Elyria, who flees from her stifling marriage and screenwriting job in New York and sets out for New Zealand with no real plan. Elyria's flat affect and singular sense of humor make for an affecting and lyrical journey.

Lacey's newest story, "No One Knows What," will be featured in the next ONSQU issue. ("Some years later she met a man who had spent his whole life being kinder than he needed to be, a man whose eyes moved softly across crowds and faces," it begins. The rest is on sale later this month!) Her second novel and first short-story collection are also forthcoming from FSG.

Our Web & PR Editor, Laura Creste, spoke with Lacey via email about sunrises, stubbed toes, and getting readerly chills.

— Michael Sarinsky

1. What was the last thing you hated?

It's difficult to fully hate something because the longer you consider the potentially hated thing the more you can see it from all angles, understand how it came to be and/or know what there is to appreciate about it. I could hate stubbing my toe but the pain of stubbing my toe means my nervous system is working. There seems to always be something to love about anything one tries to hate.


2. What was the last thing you loved?

Today I loved seeing the sunrise over this place we're calling America. I loved getting an email from a new friend. I loved the comfort of using a good pen and good paper.  I loved wearing a sweater that isn't mine.


3. How do you feel about John Berryman?

So many ways. Still feel vaguely haunted by him, but it's calmed some. I wonder if his ghost has moved on to someone else now. Can ghosts be in more than one place at a time?


4. If you didn't live in New York, where would you want to live?

I am always wondering this but haven't yet found that place. All I need are good people and a climate that allows one to be outside a good deal of the time. I think being based in New York and traveling a good deal is pretty ideal for me.


5. Favorite word?

The one in any given sentence that begins the chills in the listener.

Washington Square