This week we’re taking a closer look at Lost and Found by Kathryn Schulz.
staff writer Kathyrn Schulz may not be a household name, but most readers in the Pacific Northwest know her work quite well. In 2016, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for her New Yorker
article “The Really Big One,” about the danger our region faces from a massive earthquake emanating out of the Cascadia subduction zone. A major earthquake near Portland is a virtual certainty, but just how big it will be, and just how much damage it will do, are unpredictable.
That article was terrifying! (It still is
, if you haven’t read it or haven’t read it recently.) Schulz’s work brought renewed attention to the seismic threat that hangs over our region. Like other looming existential threats, it can seem both far off and insurmountable, making it tempting to ignore it and regard the worst consequences as inevitable.
Schulz’s memoir, Lost and Found
, is also concerned with inevitabilities. Covering a short period of time in which her life was shocked by love and loss, the book is suffused with both pain and gratitude, and — as is the case with so much art generated in extremely tumultuous times — it is a book reaching for the memory of stable ground.
Schulz is a big thinker, and Lost and Found
arcs back and forth between considering ancient, universal human experiences and detailing her specific journey through the death of a parent and the discovery of a deep and abiding love. This twin focus might have made her memoir feel bifurcated, but instead it serves to heighten the pain and awe that Schulz experienced, and the deeper quest for meaning that she guides her readers on.
Whether her subject is foreboding or inspiring, Schulz is a gifted writer. She is in the class of writers who are able to craft sentences that feel sculpted out of some particularly beautiful and durable stone; her prose is a source of comfort. Lost and Found
explores many emotions, but central to this work is a remarkably openhearted love. I ache for what Schulz lost and am cheered by what she found, and I am grateful that she so skillfully shares both.