The Number of Missing

Adam Berlin. Spuyten Duyvil (SPD, dist.) $18 trade paper (294p) ISBN 978-0-923389-50-5

The September 11th attacks were undoubtedly traumatizing for those who lived close enough to witness it, and even more so by those who lost a friend or loved one. Berlin’s (Both Members of the Club) novel follows one such survivor, an artist’s model and Manhattan resident named David, as he navigates the nightlife of the city in the weeks and months following the attacks. Told through a somber inner monologue, we experience David’s recollection of the event itself along, with memories of his deceased friend, juxtaposed with episodes from his current rudderless existence. He goes from modeling job to modeling job, while fighting his feelings for his friend’s widow and the anti-Arab resentment brewing within him. More than anything else though, we witness David drink his pain away with the sorrow of loss soaking into even the most mundane descriptions. The relentless episodes of nightly drinking—most often in the same bar—make for a repetitive, slow-moving plot. Though David’s dwindling demise is hard to sit through, this sameness seems part of the point and feels truthful to the experience of someone so traumatized. (Nov.)