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Lost & Found
Cover of Lost & Found
Lost & Found
A Memoir
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NATIONAL BESTSELLER • NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS’ CHOICE • A “profound and beautiful” (Marilynne Robinson) account of joy and sorrow from one of the great writers of our time, The New Yorker’s Kathryn Schulz, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
“I will stake my reputation on you being blown away by Lost & Found.”—Anne Lamott, author of Dusk, Night, Dawn and Bird by Bird

LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD • FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD • LONGLISTED FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL
ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: People
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Time, NPR, Oprah Daily, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Esquire, Vulture, She Reads, Book Riot, Publishers Weekly

One spring morning, Kathryn Schulz went to lunch with a stranger and fell in love. Having spent years looking for the right relationship, she was dazzled by how swiftly everything changed when she finally met her future wife. But as the two of them began building a life together, Schulz’s beloved father—a charming, brilliant, absentminded Jewish refugee—went into the hospital with a minor heart condition and never came out. Newly in love yet also newly bereft, Schulz was left contending simultaneously with wild joy and terrible grief.
Those twin experiences form the heart of Lost & Found, a profound meditation on the families that make us and the families we make. But Schulz’s book also explores how disappearance and discovery shape us all. On average, we each lose two hundred thousand objects over our lifetime, and Schulz brilliantly illuminates the relationship between those everyday losses and our most devastating ones. Likewise, she explores the importance of seeking, whether for ancient ruins or new ideas, friends, faith, meaning, or love. The resulting book is part memoir, part guidebook to sustaining wonder and gratitude even in the face of loss and grief. A staff writer at The New Yorker and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Schulz writes with curiosity, tenderness, and humor about the connections between joy and sorrow—and between us all.
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS’ CHOICE • A “profound and beautiful” (Marilynne Robinson) account of joy and sorrow from one of the great writers of our time, The New Yorker’s Kathryn Schulz, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
“I will stake my reputation on you being blown away by Lost & Found.”—Anne Lamott, author of Dusk, Night, Dawn and Bird by Bird

LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD • FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD • LONGLISTED FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL
ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: People
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Time, NPR, Oprah Daily, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Esquire, Vulture, She Reads, Book Riot, Publishers Weekly

One spring morning, Kathryn Schulz went to lunch with a stranger and fell in love. Having spent years looking for the right relationship, she was dazzled by how swiftly everything changed when she finally met her future wife. But as the two of them began building a life together, Schulz’s beloved father—a charming, brilliant, absentminded Jewish refugee—went into the hospital with a minor heart condition and never came out. Newly in love yet also newly bereft, Schulz was left contending simultaneously with wild joy and terrible grief.
Those twin experiences form the heart of Lost & Found, a profound meditation on the families that make us and the families we make. But Schulz’s book also explores how disappearance and discovery shape us all. On average, we each lose two hundred thousand objects over our lifetime, and Schulz brilliantly illuminates the relationship between those everyday losses and our most devastating ones. Likewise, she explores the importance of seeking, whether for ancient ruins or new ideas, friends, faith, meaning, or love. The resulting book is part memoir, part guidebook to sustaining wonder and gratitude even in the face of loss and grief. A staff writer at The New Yorker and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Schulz writes with curiosity, tenderness, and humor about the connections between joy and sorrow—and between us all.
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  • From the cover Chapter 1

    I have always disliked euphemisms for dying. “Passed away,” “gone home,” “no longer with us,” “departed”: although language like this is well-intentioned, it has never brought me any solace. In the name of tact, it turns away from death’s shocking bluntness; in the name of comfort, it chooses the safe and familiar over the beautiful or evocative. To me, all this feels evasive, like a verbal averting of the eyes. But death is so impossible to avoid—that is the basic, bedrock fact of it—that trying to talk around it seems misguided. As the poet Robert Lowell wrote, “Why not say what happened?”

    Yet there is one exception to this preference of mine. “I lost my father”: he had barely been dead ten days when I first heard myself use that expression. I was home again by then, after the long unmoored weeks by his side in the hospital, after the death, after the memorial service, thrust back into a life that looked exactly as it had before I left, orderly and daylit, its mundane obligations rendered exhausting by grief. My phone was lodged between my shoulder and my chin. While my father had been in a cardiac unit and then an intensive care unit and then in hospice care, dying, I had received a series of automated messages from the magazine where I work, informing me that I would be locked out of my email if I did not change my password. These arrived with clockwork regularity, reminding me that my access would expire in ten days, in nine days, in eight days, in seven days. It is remarkable how the ordinary and the existential are always stuck together, like the pages in a book so timeworn that the print has transferred from one to the other. I did not fix the password problem. I did lose the access and, with it, any means to solve the problem on my own. And so, after my father died, I found myself on the phone with a customer service representative, explaining, although it was absolutely unnecessary to do so, why I had neglected to address the issue in a timely fashion.

    I lost my father last week. Perhaps because I was still in those early, distorted days of mourning, when so much of the familiar world feels alien and inaccessible, I was struck, as I had never been before, by the strangeness of the phrase. Obviously my father hadn’t wandered away from me like a toddler at a picnic, or vanished like an important document in a messy office. And yet, unlike other oblique ways of talking about death, this one did not seem cagey or empty. It seemed plain, plaintive, and lonely, like grief itself. From the first time I said it, that day on the phone, it felt like something I could use, as one uses a shovel or a bell-pull: cold and ringing, containing within it both something desperate and something resigned, accurate to the confusion and desolation of bereavement.

    Later, when I looked it up, I learned that there was a reason “lost” felt so apt to me. I had always assumed that, if we were referring to the dead we were using the word figuratively—that it had been appropriated by those in mourning and contorted far beyond its original meaning. But that turns out not to be true. The verb “to lose” has its taproot sunk in sorrow; it is related to the “lorn” in “forlorn.” It comes from an Old English word meaning to perish, which comes from an even older word meaning to separate or cut apart. The modern sense of misplacing an object only appeared later, in the thirteenth century; a hundred years after that, “to lose” acquired the meaning of failing to win. In the sixteenth century we began to...
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Listeners will savor this beautifully written memoir by Kathryn Schulz, staff writer for THE NEW YORKER. Her narration is also first rate. In an intimate and measured tone, she shares her grief over the loss of her beloved father, as well as the story of how she met and married her wife, Casey Cep, whom she clearly treasures. What is apparent from her inviting narration is how much she loves her father and her wife, as well as the affection she holds for her mother and sister, and for Cep's extended family. This narrative also explores how losing and finding things impact individuals, and Schulz's fierce intelligence guides listeners through her impressive range of subject matter. This is an audiobook listeners will want to revisit again and again. M.J. � AudioFile 2022, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from November 1, 2021
    “Just as every grief narrative is a reckoning with loss, every love story is a chronicle of finding,” writes Pulitzer Prize winner Schulz (Being Wrong) in this stunning memoir. As Schulz recounts, she contended with the pain and ecstasy of both narratives colliding when she fell in love with her future wife, C., 18 months before Schulz’s father died. She explores the grief of loss and joy of finding through penetrating reflections on the life of her father, a deep thinker with an endless appetite for the world; an “intimate study of beloved” wife; and philosophical forays into literature, poetry, and art. She ruminates on the “intrinsic pleasure of discovery” in quest narratives, is reminded how “the entire plan of the universe consists of losing” when C. reads her Whitman’s Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, and thinks of her father’s memorial service, one of the “greatest parties I ever attended,” when remembering C. S. Lewis’s quote that “we all have... many bad spots in our best times, many good ones in our worst.” By the end of these exquisite existential wanderings, Schulz comes to a quiet truce with her finding that “life, too, goes by contraries... by turns crushing and restorative... comic and uplifting.” Schulz’s canny observations are a treasure.

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Lost & Found
A Memoir
Kathryn Schulz
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