Robert Lunday, Disequilibria: Meditations on Missingness

Winner of the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize

Disequilibria: Meditations on Missingness is a hybrid memoir that recounts the 1982 disappearance of the author's stepfather, James Edward Lewis, a pilot and Vietnam veteran. Recounting his family's experiences in searching for answers, Lunday interrogates the broader cultural and conceptual responses to the phenomenon of missingness by connecting his stepfather's case to other true-life disappearances as well as those portrayed in fiction, poetry, and film. In doing so Disequilibria explores the transience in modern life, considering the military-dependent experience, the corrosive effects of war, and the struggle to find closure and comfort as time goes by without answers.

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.




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Tuesday, March 28, 2023 - 5:30pm to 7:30pm
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Disequilibria: Meditations on Missingness (River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize) By Robert Lunday Cover Image
ISBN: 9780826364678
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of New Mexico Press - February 15th, 2023

Winner of the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize

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