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Davy Rothbart

Fireside / Simon and Schuster

US Trade Paperback Original

ISBN 0-743-25114-8

Publication Date: 05-04-2004

252 Pages; $14.00

Date Reviewed: 05-19-04

Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel © 2004



Non-Fiction, General Fiction

Not every book is made to read in simple, serial, front-cover-to-back-cover fashion. Some books are meant to be picked up and pored over for a few minutes, glanced at here and there, assimilated fully only over a stretch of time during which other books are read, places are visited, life goes on. They're no less compelling for being best assimilated in fragments, found, one bit at a time.

Davy Rothbart had one of those Internet ideas that seems so simple, so apparent that we all wish -- heck, we all think -- that we had thought of it. But Rothbart was that genius who turned the idea into action; let that be a lesson to all of us with thoughts and wishes. 'Found' is the Internet website (and print magazine) where readers can send in actual stuff that they've found. Weird stuff. Seemingly meaningless stuff that somehow in a simple twist, suddenly seems achingly poignant, gut-bustingly funny, mind-bendingly strange. Found stuff.

'Found' is a nice, reasonably priced large-format trade paperback that might never leave your coffee table, bedstand or restroom. Nor will it leave your mind. With a series of objects that is at best chaotic, presentation is everything and 'Found' is professionally presented, crisp and clean -- but not too crisp, or too clean. A hard-as-nails but still sweet typewritten note found in a classroom in which the author speaks of being a Petty Officer in 1962 and giving some starving children food from the truck is offered in bold typewritten glory. A hand-scrawled note says simply "Please admit". Keys, photos of people holding an assortment of weaponry and more make'Found' a perfect picture of our sad nation.

The objects in 'Found' are loosely grouped, and part of the fun here is guessing the grouping factor. Is it the word "head"? Is it that the pictured items all involve something lost -- or found? Families, lists, essays, photos -- the ties that bind us are as mysterious as those which set us free. The images in this work will do both.

For those who require a minimum of narrative continuity, there is an oh-so-appropriate interview with Lynda Barry and the emails. Both offer about the closest to normal reading that you're going to find in Found. But then, normal reading is not the reason to search out this fine creation. Davy Rothbart and his 'Found' partner, Jason Bitner, along with the help of dedicated and talented staff have undertaken to tell us more about ourselves than we might otherwise have learned on our own. No matter how scattered, no matter how strange, 'Found' offers readers the chance to look inside themselves. There are literally millions of tiny emotional levers and switches in every human being. There's no doubt that this work will throw some of those levers or twist some of those switches in every reader.