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From The Critics"You leave home one afternoon, you never return as yourself," thinks a recently deceased man in the opening pages of Oates' immaculately plotted and emotionally resonant novel. The dead man is sculptor Adam Berendt (or is he really?), and the grieving community is the determinedly middle-aged Salthill-on-Hudson. The novel itself is both a good old-fashioned mystery and an inquiry into questions about identity and love, about who we become when one among us disappears. No one, it seems, ever really knew Adam, though that never stopped people from believing that he was their best friend or destined to be their lover. No one could name just why they loved him, but they did. No one is prepared for the marriages and dreams that crumble in his absence; for the tricks that memory plays; or for the revelations, both sudden and quiet, that ultimately lead Oates' cast toward more satisfying, honest, even dignified lives. There is light, a lot of it, at the end of this long book.