The tale of how the author’s wife’s infidelity sent him into the brave new world of Internet dating.
This memoir by Poetry Society of America deputy editor Lauer (A Hotel in Belgium, 2014) proceeds from a phone call he received from a woman who told the author that his wife was having an affair with her husband. Lauer found himself in emotional limbo, apparently more committed to repairing the marital damage than his wife was (she continued the affair), while feeling that the narrative thread of his life was unraveling. There are reasons to suspect he’s an unreliable narrator or that there’s a subtext to this memoir on the unreliability of all memory. The author delivers seemingly offhand disclosures of his neediness and depression, his alcoholism (in recovery), the lack of sex in their marriage, his wife’s request that they seek counseling, and his refusal to get a driver’s license after they moved (at her insistence) from New York to the Bay Area. So there are at least two sides to this story, but in this memoir, she is depicted only as the one who betrayed him. The women with whom he connects on the Internet (after returning to New York) are a series of all-but-anonymous names with whom he was seeking some sort of solace. As he writes to one (addressed “Dear You”), “with the illusion of the connectedness of the Internet I somehow knew you more than a complete stranger. But I guess that is true and not true.” Much of the most emotionally powerful writing here comes in unsent letters to his divorced, alcoholic mother, from whom he’s been estranged since she asked for a drink at his wedding. As for the title, the Missed Connections section on Craigslist suggests the pervasiveness of loneliness and longing and the desperation to connect.
During his journey through online dating, Lauer offered women “the illusion that [they] could understand me,” which he extends to readers as well.