Excerpt from The Search by Geoff Dyer, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Search

by Geoff Dyer

The Search by Geoff Dyer X
The Search by Geoff Dyer
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    May 2014, 176 pages

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Tracking: he turned the word over in his mind, taking the measure of his feelings. After Brandon's death he'd sworn—not sworn, to swear not to do something always seemed like an incitement to do it—he'd resolved not to get involved in anything like that again, especially now, now that it was illegal, dangerous.

Six years previously tracking had been an industry virtually. It started as a response to rewards being offered for information regarding the whereabouts of prominent figures who had gone missing. One case attracted a lot of publicity when the man claiming the reward called himself a professional tracker. The term caught on and the numbers of people disappearing, it seemed to Walker, increased in order to keep pace with the growing numbers of people calling themselves trackers. It got to the point where, like lights left on in an empty house, a pile of clothes left on a beach was taken as a sign not of accidental drowning but of an inadequate attempt to disguise a disappearance. Whenever anyone disappeared there was always somebody who had a vested interest in finding him or her again. Anyone with a taste for adventure was lured into the idea of tracking; the classified pages of small-town papers always included a few ads from trackers offering their services. Even the government department responsible for missing persons—Finders to themselves and everyone else—was getting in on the act. A number of officers were alleged to have located a missing person and then sold the information to a private concern. Finders keepers, it was commonly joked, was the motto of the Missing Persons' Department. Lured by the prospect of big money, anyone in the department with ambition and initiative went solo after a few years. The government moved quickly: missing persons, it ruled, had to be investigated by the government department only. Tracking was illegal without a licence—and a licence became impossible to obtain. The move backfired: putting trackers beyond the law meant that a lot of people living outside the law got in on tracking. Many trackers had been less than reliable or scrupulous in their methods, but now that they were firmly outside the law their methods became increasingly ruthless. Like trafficking, tracking became one of the standard activities of the underworld. And this was the world Walker was being lured back into.

The day after Rachel's visit he walked along the beach, hearing the freeway roar of the ocean, feeling the fling and reach of spray. He picked a curve of brown glass from the sand. Sea lions were clowning in the breaking waves. A dog scampered after a chewed husk of ball. Clumps of kelp, driftwood.

Later, when the light was turning hazy, he called her from a telephone on the boardwalk. He had not known what he was going to say when he dialled her number but hearing her voice he decided on impulse. Yes, he said, he'd do it.

Excerpted from The Search by Geoff Dyer. Copyright © 2014 by Geoff Dyer. Excerpted by permission of Graywolf Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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