Manohla Dargis has been absent from her N.Y. Times film critic duties since…what, mid-June? I had assumed she’d taken time off for the writing of a book, or maybe some simple chill time in Paris, a favorite city of hers. Contemplation, battery-recharging, whatever. But nobody would say anything when I asked around this morning. Dargis didn’t reply. Nothing from mutual journalist pallies or Times colleagues. Silencio.

So I wrote her N.Y. Times editor, Lorne Manly, and said I didn’t recall any announcement in the Times about her taking time off. “We don’t tend to do announcements about leaves around here,” he replied, “but everything is fine and she’ll be back in action after Labor Day when her leave comes to an end. You’ll see her in Toronto, and you can catch up with her then.”

“So this wasn’t a book-writing sabbatical?,” I wrote back. “Just a plain and simple leave for the purpose of smelling the grass and the flowers and the coffee and…like that?” Manly’s response: “I’m sure Manohla will be happy to fill you in when you see her.”

So I asked some other folks if they’d heard anything. A Manhattan publicist said she was told Dargis “has been doing some graduate school work and perhaps writing a thesis,” but this is “very, very unconfirmed.”