Still Missing

( 4 )

Overview

Alex Selky, going on seven, kissed his mother goodbye and set off for school, a mere two blocks away. He never made it. Desperate to find him, his mother begins a vigil that lasts for days, then weeks, then months. She is treated first as a tragic figure, then as a grief-crazed hysteric, then as anreminder of the bad fortune that can befall us all. Against all hope, despite false leads and thedesertions of her friends and allies she believes with all her heart that somehow, ...

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Overview

Alex Selky, going on seven, kissed his mother goodbye and set off for school, a mere two blocks away. He never made it. Desperate to find him, his mother begins a vigil that lasts for days, then weeks, then months. She is treated first as a tragic figure, then as a grief-crazed hysteric, then as anreminder of the bad fortune that can befall us all. Against all hope, despite false leads and thedesertions of her friends and allies she believes with all her heart that somehow, somewhere, Alex will be found alive.

Beth Gutcheon builds a heartrending suspense that culminates in a climax you will never forget.

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Editorial Reviews

Cosmopolitan
“Gutcheon plays on our emotions with fiendish skill… the ending will leave you limp.”
Ms. magazine
“A surprising depth of understanding.... A consistently intelligent piece of work.”
Los Angeles Times
“This is exactly the way it would be if your child didn’t come home on time from school tomorrow.”
Times Literary Supplement
“Gutcheon sustains suspense to the final page.”
Newsday
“Mesmerizing...absolutely riveting.”
Ms. Magazine
"A surprising depth of understanding.... A consistently intelligent piece of work."
Time Magazines Literary Supplement
"Gutcheon sustains suspense to the final page."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060977030
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/28/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 712,518
  • Product dimensions: 5.34 (w) x 8.03 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Beth Gutcheon

Beth Gutcheon is the critically acclaimed author of eight previous novels: The New Girls, Still Missing, Domestic Pleasures, Saying Grace, Five Fortunes, More Than You Know, Leeway Cottage, and Good-bye and Amen. She is the writer of several film scripts, including the Academy-Award nominee The Children of Theatre Street. She lives in New York City.

Biography

Beth Gutcheon is the critically acclaimed author of eight previous novels: The New Girls, Still Missing, Domestic Pleasures, Saying Grace, Five Fortunes, More Than You Know, Leeway Cottage, and Goodbye and Amen. She is the writer of several film scripts, including the Academy Award nominee The Children of Theatre Street. She lives in New York City.

Good To Know

Gutcheon shared some fun and fascinating anecdotes in our interview:

"When my second novel was in manuscript, a subsidiary rights guy at my publisher secretly sent a copy of it to a friend who was working in Hollywood with the producer Stanley Jaffe, who had made Goodbye Columbus, The Bad News Bears, and Kramer v. Kramer, run Paramount Pictures before he was 30, and met the queen of England. My agent had an auction set up for the film rights of Still Missing for the following Friday, with some very heavy-hitter producers and such, which was exciting enough. Two days before the auction, Stanley Jaffe walked into my agent's office in New York and said, ‘I want to make a pre-emptive bid for Beth Gutcheon's novel.'

‘But you haven't read it,' says Wendy.

‘Nevertheless,' says Stanley.

‘Well, I have this auction set up. You're going to have to pay a lot to have me call it off,' says Wendy.

‘I understand that,' says Stanley.

Wendy named a number.

Stanley said, ‘Done,' or words to that effect.

To this day, remembering Wendy's next phone call to me causes me something resembling a heart attack.

When, several weeks later, Stanley called and asked me if I had an interest in writing the screenplay of the movie that became Without a Trace, I said, ‘No.'

He quite rightly hung up on me.

I then spent twenty minutes in a quiet room wondering what I had done. A man with a shelf full of Oscars, on cozy terms with Lizzie Windsor, had just offered me film school for one, all expenses paid by Twentieth Century Fox. He knew I didn't know how to write screenplays. He wasn't offering to hire me because he wanted to see me fail. Who cares that all I ever wanted to see on my tombstone was ‘She Wrote a Good Book?' The chance to learn something new that was both hard and really interesting was not resistible. I spent the rest of the weekend tracking him from airport to airport until I could get him back on the phone. (This was before we all had cell phones.)

I was sitting in my bleak office on a wet gray day, on which my newly teenaged son had shaved his head and I had just realized I'd lost my American Express card, when the phone rang. ‘Is this Beth Gutcheon?' asked a voice that made my hair stand on end. I said it was. ‘This is Paul Newman,' said the voice.

It was, too. The fine Italian hand of Stanley Jaffe again, he'd recommended me to work on a script Paul was developing. Paul invited me to dinner to talk about it. My son said, ‘For heaven's sake, Mother, don't be early and don't be tall.' I was both. We did end up writing a script together; it was eventually made for television with Christine Lahti, and fabulous Terry O'Quinn in the Paul Newman part, called The Good Fight."

"I read all the time. My husband claims I take baths instead of showers because I can't figure out how to read in the shower, and he's right."

"I started buying poetry for the first time since college after 9/11, but wasn't reading it until a friend mentioned that she and her husband read poetry in the morning before they have breakfast. She is right -- a pot of tea and a quiet table in morning sunlight is exactly the right time for poetry. I read The New York Times Book Review in the bath and on subways because it is light and foldable. I listen to audiobooks through earphones while I take my constitutionals or do housework. I read physical books for a couple of hours every night after everyone else is in bed -- usually two books alternately, one novel and one biography or book of letters."

"I have a dog named Daisy Buchanan. She ran for president last fall; her slogan was ‘No Wavering, No Flip-flopping, No pants.' She doesn't know yet that she didn't win, so if you meet her, please don't tell her."

"Last little-known fact: When I was in high school I invented, by knitting one, a double-wide sweater with two turtlenecks for my brother and his girlfriend. It was called a Tweter and was even manufactured in college colors for a year or two. There was a double-paged color spread in Life magazine of models wearing Tweters and posing with the Jets football team. My proudest moment was the Charles Addams cartoon that ran in The New Yorker that year. It showed a Tweter in a store window, while outside, gazing at it in wonder, was a man with two heads."

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



You could hardly get to age thirty-four without learning something about loss. By thirty-four you're bound to have lost your Swiss Army knife, your best friend from fourth grade, your chance to be center forward on the starting team, your hope of the Latin prize, quite a few of your illusions, and certainly, somewhere along the line, some significant love. Susan Selky had in fact recently lost an old battle, for her marriage to the man she was in love with, and with it, many ancillary dreams of more babies, and of holding his hand in the dark when they were old.

It may be that one loss helps to prepare you for the next, at least in developing a certain rueful sense of humor about things you're too old to cry about. There's plenty of blather, some of it true, about turning pain into growth, using one blow to teach you resilience and to make you ready for the shock of the next one. But the greater truth is that life is not something you can go into training for. There was nothing in life that Susan Selky could have done to prepare for the breathtaking impact of losing her son.

Susan Selky, bright, loyal, stubborn, shy. If you knew her professionally, you probably wouldn't have guessed that whatever accomplished forays she made daily outside, she thought with relief of her narrow brick house on Fremont Street as if it were a shell. Inside, dumb and unguarded as a mollusk was the heart of life, her private days and nights with Alex.

Alexander Graham Selky, Jr., age 6 & 3/4, a freelance spaceman. A small, sturdy child with a two-hundred-watt smile and a giggle like falling water, a child who saw Star Wars once with Mommy,twice with Daddy, and once again with TJ. Owner-trainer of Taxi, an oversized Shetland sheepdog.

Taxi was a near-total loss in the training department. He had only managed to learn to start barking with joy when Alex got home from school, a full minute before any human could have heard his feet on the step, and to smuggle himself soundlessly onto Alex's bed at night against orders. Most evenings when she went to kiss Alex one more time on her own way to bed, Susan found Taxi burrowed against her sleeping boy with his nose in his armpit, still as a statue except for the wistful eyes that tracked her approach and begged, "Pretend you don't see me."

"He thinks he's my brother," said Alex. "He thinks he's a fur person."

Alex Selky, going on seven, so eager to grow up, kissed his mother good-bye on their front steps on the hot bright morning of May 15, 1980, and marched himself down the street on his way to the New Boston School of Back Bay, two blocks from his corner. He never arrived at school, and from the moment he turned the corner, he apparently disappeared from the face of the earth. Still Missing. Copyright © by Beth R. Gutcheon. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2007

    Disappointed

    I just finished reading this book and I have to say, I am a bit disappointed! I read More Than You Know a few years ago and it was so amazing I figured I'd come back to Gutcheon. It wasn't until the last few pages that I really got into the book. The ending was great (although predictable), the interactions were great towards the end, but the rest of the pages leading up to the end were disappointing. Usually I can find myself feeling emotions of the characters but I just felt like I was being told emotions rather than feeling them this time. It was something different... happy I read it but happy it's over.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2005

    A book filled with suspense but lacking in explanation

    This book kept me reading until the very end. My only problem with it was the fact that it didn't explain what exactly happened to the main character's child. I would have liked a few extra pages that explained this in detail. Other than that, I enjoyed it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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