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05May

Lost & Found by Kathryn Schulz review – reflections on grief and falling in love

The Pulitzer prize winner reflects on losing her father and finding a partner, in book that combines essay and memoir

Lost & Found, as befits a book about contrasts, is something of a hybrid. On the one hand, it is a memoir of two shattering events that took place almost simultaneously in Kathryn Schulz’s life: the death of her much-loved 74-year-old father, and her falling in love, in middle age, with a woman she calls C. It also veers between two distinct modes: the personal, where Schulz relates these events in affecting prose; and the more detached, essayistic style that will be familiar to readers of her Pulitzer-winning work in the New Yorker.

After establishing the fact of her father’s death in the book’s opening, Schulz takes the reader on a series of long, impersonal digressions on the subject of loss in general: “Phone chargers, umbrellas, earrings, scarves, passports, headphones, musical instruments, Christmas ornaments, the permission slip for your daughter’s field trip … the range and quantity of things we lose is staggering.” She is such a good writer of nonfiction that she is never less than shrewd and entertaining company, dispensing maxims such as “In the microdrama of loss, we are nearly always both villain and victim,” and providing thoughtful readings of Elizabeth Bishop’s poem One Art, in which the narrator contemplates “the art of losing”.

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