In 1997, Christopher lives happily with his wife, Janet, and seven-year-old daughter, Celia, in a beautifully preserved 19th-century house in a peaceful small town. One morning, while Celia and her father are home alone, Celia vanishes from the backyard. There are no clues, no suspects. In successive stand-alone chapters, Brockmeier wanders ever further from a straight recounting of events. He describes the aftermath of Celia's disappearance from the perspective of the community at large, then turns Celia's story into a fantasy about an otherworldly green-skinned child, and finally imagines Celia in a new incarnation as a single mother called Stephanie. Christopher's and Janet's numbness--they show little rage, frustration or grief--is skillfully rendered, if sometimes oppressively subtle. Christopher lives in a hazy world of guilt, while Janet commits a few quiet acts of rebellion, disrupting the showing of a movie and finally drifting away from her husband. Brockmeier's prose is measured and lovely, and he sketches a number of eerie and compelling scenes, including those in which Christopher believes he receives telephone calls from the missing Celia on a toy phone that she treasured.I'm an absolute sucker for this kind of Paul Auster formula stuff, but it does seem like the genre is running out of steam.
Anyway, the point of all this is: as anyone familiar with Alice should know, the real truth about 'Celia' is that Celia, the main character in Columbia University's 2004 Varsity Show (an annual student-produced musical comedy), is just a thinly-veiled Alice Boone, complete with an anagrammed first name. Celia was a badass editor in chief. Celia would never write the kind of drivel that passes for campus editorial leadership today!
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