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Hazel

The Missing

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Amazon Synopsis -

This book - part autobiography, part inquiry into mystery, part social history - tries to find out how people can disappear without a trace, and looks at the impact these disappearances can have on communities.

 

A very shoddy synopsis indeed but you get the jist.

 

The subject of missing people has always hovered around O'Hagan's consciousness. From an early age he was aware that his grandfather had gone missing and was never talked about. So, he became fascinated with his families' history and the missing relative.

 

The first book in this non-fiction novel is entitled 'Clyde Built', and O'Hagan looks back over Glasgow history, including that of his families'. In the tour of Glasgow he encounters tales of missing people that are well known in Glasgow lore, such as the victims of Bible John. It really is a fascinating portrayal of Glasgow and though I find it difficult to recognise exact locations now of the events, he really told me stuff that I had no clue about.

 

He then moves on to Ayrshire, specifically Irvine, where he grew up and talks about some children that went missing during that time. And then onto the homeless in London, and 'Westworld' - the missing victims of Fred and Rose West.

 

O'Hagan concentrates on the victims here and really as a by product of discussing the notion of being missing, what is left behind, the awful limbo the families are left with, and how it is unimaginable to simply cease to exist; how difficult that it is to not leave a paper trail. He points out that the police categorise a person as missing when a paper trail just stops. You are documented from the day of your birth and you accumulate a massive file of paper. When people go missing that stops. Apart from in the case of children when often they have not yet accumulated a paper trail, and the absence of one stopping isn't noticed - but then, missing children is a far more sinister subject. I just never really thought about how hard it is to deliberately go missing. And I can't begin to comprehend what families left behind go through.

 

This isn't a true crime novel - as O'Hagan doesn't resolves crimes, describe forensics, or give any tidillating titbits. When he interviews people, he doesn't even ask them the questions you would expect - no in-depth analysis. He seems to just let them talk and tell their story, as if they are bringing the loved ones back into existence through talk.

 

I think the saddest thing about ths book is the people that are missing yet not. No one has reported them missing, no one is looking for them, and no one claims their bodies when found. So, in what way are they missing?

 

This books is really a meditation of the notion of being missing - what happens when you simply stop existing. When somebody notices you are not there. O'Hagan doesn't seem to come to any conclusions, but that is perfectly in keeping with the book - it isn't a forensic journal - he just wants us to think about it. And boy, do you. I was up from 1am till 5am this morning thinking about it.

 

This is a definite 5 star recommendation from me - and Glaswegians, you will love O'Hagan's use of language. I smiled at every little Glaswegianism.

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Guest Ian

Hi Hazel. You'll be pleased to know that I took your directions and found myself at this junction reading about 'The Missing'. You suggested that I come here, and I am glad you did. I must get a copy.

 

However, I am a reader first and a writer second. Everyone needs a dream, something to aspire to, a goal to aim towards. Mine is to be published. I'm not a great writer, I'm not even a good writer, but I have a million and one ideas fighting for attention within my mind, a messy place even before the dream. My reason for being fascinated with missing people, predominately from historical times, is to try and identify any similarities in order to form the basis of a story which stretches across decades, centuries etc etc, a story which at this stage of my research has no substance (it's a relatively new idea). So although I'm sure this book will absolutely transfix me, it's probably of events that are still hurting the relevant societies.

 

Nonetheless, I am adding this to my wishlist, thank you very much.

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Good decision Ian, I hope you enjoy it. It really was a fascinating read. You must post your thought once you have read it. It would be good to discuss it with someone else who has read it.

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LL, and Ian, you must tell us more about your about-to-be-published books in the Writer's Corner.

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Hazel, I have finished one novel but it was a bit rubbish, and have started numerous other ones... Not sure I'm at the publishable stage just yet, but I can dream!

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Guest Ian

I too have many unfinished projects which will probably never see the dizzy heights of a commercial bookshelf. I've already stated that i'm not even a good writer. However, I am a good thinker and this is my problem; I think of what I consider to be stonking ideas, but have not as yet got the skill to put them effectively on paper.

 

My 'skill' at the moment is poetry. Probably too 'dark' to share, but I have had some fantastic feedback from those who I have shared some with.

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Good to see we already have a thread on this. I'm about two thirds of the way through, and I'm gripped. The family history seems at first not to quite fit with the documentary approach of the latter half, but in some way it gives him as a writer a context. I'm enjoying the reflections on how families are impacted, as well as the exploration of the reasons why some people choose to go missing.

I've not read any of Andrew O'Hagan's other work, and this would encourage me to seek them out - I have a copy of Our Fathers somewhere. I'll look it out now.

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I am really glad to see you enjoying this MM. I think I read Be Near Me first, before The Missing, but I now have a small pile of his other books - I really loved The Missing. I lent it to my dad who isn't a big reader, but he thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the beginning on Glasgow.

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Guest Ian

Hi again everyone, "I've been away, but now I'm back" (it's a quote from an idiot I used to know, the only funny thing he ever said, but i guess you had to be there).

 

I've just this second ordered a copy of The Missing through the Amazon link on the home page (worth reminding people about the 5% you receive). Looking forward to it's arrival - it's about time I revived The Dream. Sometimes dreams do come true, but occasionally they have to be kicked up the arse.

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Guest Ian

..........I've been away but now I'm back (again) - my apologies but it's my job. Been with this company a year or so now and it takes it's toll on my personal life like you would not imagine.

 

The Missing mad good reading, not great, just good. It was a book of two halves - the first half was pure personal history and maybe explained O'Hagan's fixation with mispers - the second half was much better and dealt with the topic as I had hoped it would be dealt dealt with.

 

Not a bad book, and a good recommendation, but never bowled me over. As for my project, you know, the one I mentioned which prompted the recommendation; it still hasn't begun, but this book has brought it a step closer.

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