The null results are rapidly squeezing the regions of parameter space where dark matter might lurk. Confronted by the drought of data, theoretical physicists have conjectured about more exotic particles, but the vast majority of these candidates would be even harder to detect. One could instead hope to produce dark-matter particles at a particle accelerator, so that we could infer their presence by default: by checking whether energy seemed to go missing in particle collisions. But the Large Hadron Collider has tried precisely this and noticed nothing so far. Some theorists suspect dark matter doesn’t exist and our theory of gravitation—Einstein’s general theory of relativity—has led us astray. General relativity tells us that galaxies would fly apart if not held together by unseen matter, but perhaps the theory is wrong. Yet general relativity has passed all other observational tests, and all rival theories have seemingly fatal flaws.
Eighty-five percent of all matter is unknown. Our greatest fear is that it will always remain so.
When I moved to the city, I thought I would live in Greenwich Village, but affordable apartments were no longer scarce, they were nonexistent. Still, aching to be part of a scene already vanished, I searched the Village for the bohemianism I longed for. I had read about the White Horse Tavern, the place where writers once gathered and Dylan Thomas whiskied himself to death. The first time I walked in, I was shocked to find a crowd of Wall Streeters in dark suits, making their animal herding noises around the bar. But if I went to the White Horse early in the afternoon, I could sit alone in the quiet middle room, under the portrait of Dylan Thomas, and nurse a pint of beer while writing poetry and chatting with an elderly woman named Sunny who also liked to sit in that room and nurse a drink or two. Sunny was such a regular the White Horse hung her framed photograph on the wall. She would tell me about her husband, a Hollywood screenwriter who specialized in bullfighting movies, and I would read her my poems.
Over time, I would discover the few authentic places of the Village that remained uncontaminated. But loving those bars, cafés, and restaurants has been a dangerous and painful affair. In the 2000s it seemed that every time I fell for some place it was snatched away, given over to a successful restaurateur to be gutted and glamorized.
On August 16, 1977, something momentous happened in Memphis, Tennessee. It was either the death of Elvis Presley at the age of 42, as more than 80 percent of Americans believe, or the start of the most spectacular disappearing act in the history of mankind.
This week, as fans mark the 40th anniversary of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s (alleged) passing, those who believe that Presley is still alive will have a golden opportunity to make their case. Or, rather, cases. “Elvis is alive” theories are as varied as they are plentiful, and they’ve been circulating since just after his death. He’s left the realm of popular entertainers and joined the ranks of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and to some, Jesus. What follows is a brief history of why some people refuse to let this American icon rest in peace.
The premise for this book club is simple. It’s a gathering of people who go out to a public space for the purpose of reading together. Unlike traditional book clubs, there are no mandatory reading selections, and nobody facilitates a discussion. Think of it as cocktail hour for introverts.
It is when Handy shows his own weaknesses that he often stands on the firmest ground. He concludes “Wild Things” on a melancholy note, admitting that his foray into children’s literature allowed him more than a simple chance to re-encounter the favorite books of his youth. It allowed him the chance to hold close his children’s younger selves. “By one measure, I suppose,” he writes, “you are holding in your hands a work of sublimated grief.”
How beautiful, and how painful, and how incontrovertibly true. His book could have glided on such perceptions alone. It doesn’t need anything else.
It is a cerebral haunting in book form, a page-turning, suspenseful read that will stay with you long after you’ve finished it. Jemc has already demonstrated her knack for an ethereal kind of writing; her short story collection, A Different Bed Every Time, is a study in how uncanny circumstances can still be complex and nuanced, without sacrificing their unique weirdness. Like the work of Leonora Carrington, the effective terror of The Grip of It comes with sudden juxtaposition of the surreal, both in the subject’s environment and within the subject’s persona.