It's fairly simple, if you know how to stick to it.

A friend of my mother's had been married for 16 years, had 3 children. The marriage was good enough, not a lot of passion left but they were comfortable together and my mothers friend was happy with her man. Even if she did wonder now and again where things would go and if they could have gone better.

One day her husband got up out his chair just having finished a cup of tea.

"I'm just going out for some cigarettes, before the shop closes. Back in a minute."

And that was it. No argument. No fighting. Nothing. He just disappeared.

26 years later, the kids all grown up and the woman living on her own she hears a knock at the door. She went to answer it and there's the husband standing there, key in hand.

"You changed the locks" he said, puzzled.


She closed the door in his face and left him out there. She'd had over a quarter of a century to consider what she would do if he ever did re-surface as magically as he had disappeared. She needed more time to think it over though.

This book inspired the title of a Radiohead song on the album kid a. This song was written in 1997 iirc after an awful gig at the Royal Dublin Showgrounds in Ireland. The line "I float down the Liffey" is a testament to this. "Strobe lights and blown speakers, fire-works and hurricane". This gig was followed by one in Galway which Thom Yorke once cited as his favourite performance.The song itself is a haunting blend of near discordant string arrangements and lyrical anguish.

So you seriously wish to disappear and never be found? The experiences of numerous people who have come before you ought to be instructive in this endeavor. To insure maximum success, you will need to take the following steps (provided you can afford them). First, you will need to take some flying lessons, and specifically lessons by which you will learn to fly a small, single engine plane. Don't worry, you won't need to buy an airplane. You can rent one, and it is sure to be insured. Second, you will need a live hand grenade. What you'll want to do then, once you've become confident in your flying skills, is to rent that plane, fully fueled, for one last solo trip. Do a last-minute check to be sure you are not wearing any article of clothing which is likely to float, and then head straight out over the Pacific Ocean. This is presuming you live somewhere on the Pacific Coast -- if not, you'll need to get there first.

Anyway, you'll be flying South-Southwest. That is, on a path as though you were headed to some mystic point halfway between Hawaii and the Polynesian Islands. We are speaking now of one of the most remote stretches of islandless water on the face of the Earth. Fly relatively low over the water, so as to avoid the attention of radar, until your plane begins to run perilously low on fuel -- down to less than, perhaps, a quarter of a tank. There is no going back now, so resolve yourself to execute the rest of the plan. Scan the glorious horizon to be sure that no one else is around -- at least not close enough to get a good look at what you're up to or attempt to interfere in some way -- and then throttle back, pulling the airplane into an upward trajectory, climbing as far into the sky as its coursing engine will take it. This is where the hand grenade comes in. Put it in your mouth. Pull the pin. Put your hands over your cheeks.

In the extremely unlikely event that some body part of yours should ever come ashore somewhere, it will be unidentifiable, since your best identifying features -- your face, teeth and fingerprints -- will have been blown to smithereens. It's a good idea to have a spare hand grenade handy, in case the first one turns out to be a dud. Naturally, the plane will be blown half to bits as well when the grenade goes off. Though the wreckage will float for some time, you should at this point be at a remote enough spot that no one will even be passing close enough overhead to find the scattered flotsam of your erased existence. And if they do, you'll be presumed dead (correctly), and no one will bother you any further.

The one major drawback to this plan is the possibility that you will return as a ghost to haunt the spot of your demise, which will be very, very boring, since there will be naught to haunt but fish and whales. In light of this serious risk, you may wish to reconsider your desire to disappear and never be found.

"How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found" is a 2002 young adult novel by Sara Nickerson, with illustrations by Sally Wren Comport. The book is mostly text, but includes pages of a "comic book" that exists inside the story.

This is perhaps my favorite book that I've read so far this year. Of course, this book happens to involve things that are of special interest to me: islands in The Puget Sound that can only be reached by ferry, and a series of obscure comic books. But even without that, this book manages to do what few books are able to do: to create an atmosphere of magical realism where the possibility of the uncanny is kept alive, without being fully resolved.

Margaret Clairmont is a 12 year old girl who lived with a depressed mother and an annoying little sister. Her mother is functional, but spends most of her time asleep, and the family survives off of frozen food. Four years ago, Margaret's father died, in mysterious circumstances, triggering her mother's depression. This amount of emotional stress hasn't helped her school life, with her doing things like eating lunch in a bathroom stall to avoid social contact. All this changes when her normally sedentary mother takes the family on a trip to a small island in the Puget Sound (presumably one of the San Juan Islands, but it doesn't say that specifically). They find an old mansion, and in that mansion, Margaret finds a package that gives her hints about what might have happened in the past. After they return to home, Margaret decides to return to the mansion to find out what really happened. At the same time, a boy on the island is reading a series of handmade comic books about a humanoid rat, that he gets from a mysterious zine library. When he meets Margaret, they set out to find out how the comic books reveal the secret of how her father died.

When I started this book, I didn't know which direction it was going to go. I thought it might turn into a book-length very special episode where Margaret learns about parental depression, and where she makes friends, learns to be herself and (although the term didn't exist in 2002) becomes a girlboss. Or, I thought, it might have turned into a typical YA fantasy novel where she finds the underground kingdom of the rodent people and finds the three gems that allow them to destroy an evil witch. But instead this book exactly walked the line: it did what magical realism tries, but often fails to do: keep the reader in suspense about how much of what is going on is real.

All night long I'd had this feeling---it was like I'd been stepping in and out of different worlds. And all the worlds were somehow connected, but also completely separate. I was the only thing that linked them together.
And I felt, as I was reading this book, the same suspense, as I couldn't tell whether the book was going to break one way or the other. Only in the climax of the book do we ever get a clear picture of whether anything supernatural was ever happening, and even then, I wasn't totally sure.

As a final note, the setting of the book, on the fictionalized San Juan Islands, has a lot to do with being able to create a setting like that. A zine library full of unpublished, self-made books (and with no apparent financial basis) seems like it might be a matter of total fancy, but I can imagine such a thing existing in the San Juans. The fact that this book takes place in a unique social environment allows me to believe the suspension between reality and fantasy more.

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