“No one will pay you to write your first book,” Catherine Lacey’s professor told her in grad school; you have to find a way to pay yourself.
One way to do that, as Catherine writes in an article for the New York Times, is to form a worker co-op like 3B, the bed & breakfast she helped start in 2010. Together, she and six housemates purged rooms full of garbage, “uncovered dubious plumbing maneuvers and ludicrous electrical work,” and repainted walls from a “color I can describe only as ‘scab.’” It sounds pretty fun, to be honest.
Now, the “nascent fiction-thing [she] wasn’t yet calling a novel” when she started 3B is an honest-to-goodness book called Nobody Is Ever Missing, which we’re very proud to be publishing in July.
Recently, Catherine gave our friends at Henry Review a tour of 3B and told them about how she came to write the novel, which, we should mention, gets its title from the last line of John Berryman’s Dream Song #29. (“I got obsessed with John Berryman,” Catherine explains. “Like, really bad obsessed.”)
So, what the hell, since it’s National Poetry Month, and since FSG is reissuing The Dream Songs for Berryman’s centenary this fall, and, not least, since it’s fantastic, we give you Dream Song #29:
There sat down, once, a thing on Henry’s heart
só heavy, if he had a hundred years
& more, & weeping, sleepless, in all them time
Henry could not make good.
Starts again always in Henry’s ears
the little cough somewhere, an odour, a chime.
And there is another thing he has in mind
like a grave Sienese face a thousand years
would fail to blur the still profiled reproach of. Ghastly,
with open eyes, he attends, blind.
All the bells say: too late. This is not for tears;
But never did Henry, as he thought he did,
end anyone and hacks her body up
and hide the pieces, where they may be found.
He knows: he went over everyone, & nobody’s missing.
Often he reckons, in the dawn, them up.
Nobody is ever missing.
Want to hear Berryman read it himself? Go right ahead.