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Fiction Absurdist

Not Anywhere, Just Not

by (author) Ken Sparling

Coach House Books
Initial publish date
Jun 2023
Absurdist, Siblings, 21st Century
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2023
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jun 2023
    List Price

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Boy meets Girl, Boy marries Girl, and years later Boy mysteriously disappears in this Gordon Lish–style novel.

People are disappearing. And when they return, they can't say where they've been: "I was nowhere.... And then one day I was back."

At the heart of Not Anywhere, Just Not is a middle-aged couple who still consider themselves to be a boy and a girl, like they were when they first met. One day, like thousands of people around the world, the boy vanishes, and the girl is left to wait, wonder, and worry. Who is he? Who is she, now, approaching sixty? Who were they together? And who will they be when or if he reappears?

This is a world where every morning the cat gets fed and the coffee gets made, but also one in which gigantic words fall from the sky, God stands outside in the cold without a hat, angels ride the subway, and dreams whisper from far away, like something loud trapped in a jar. Not Anywhere, Just Not is a mysterious wind rustling the lexicon of suburban living into strange new iterations. Between the banalities of the domestic sphere, impossibilities drift like dandelion fluff, making the familiar seem strange and the strange seem familiar. Ken Sparling confronts us with the small dramas of our lives and the language we struggle with to express them, bringing us to the precipice of accepted ideas and allowing us to see, with dread and wonder, what might be coming for us all.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Ken Sparling is the author of six novels: Dad Says He Saw You at the Mall, commissioned by Gordon Lish; Hush Up and Listen Stinky Poo Butt, handmade using discarded library books and a sewing machine; a novel with no title; For Those Whom God Has Blessed with Fingers; Book, which was shortlisted for the Trillium Award; Intention | Implication | Wind; and This Poem is a House. He lives in Richmond Hill, Ontario, and shares his handmade books at >

Editorial Reviews

"In Ken Sparling’s sixth novel, people sometimes just disappear. And when they reappear, they can’t quite say where they’ve been. When this happens to one half of a middle-aged couple, the partner who remains frets about his eventual return. Bordering magic realism and absurdity, Not Anywhere, Just Not is sure to be a metaphysical delight." – Andrew Woodrow-Butcher, Quill & Quire '2023 Spring Fiction Preview'

Other titles by Ken Sparling