The Loss of All Lost Things
“Lost and Found”
“Lost and Found” is from Amina Gautier’s newest collection, THE LOSS OF ALL LOST THINGS (Elixir Press, 2016). She is the author of two previous award-winning story collections: NOW WE WILL BE HAPPY, which won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize, and AT-RISK, which won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. Gautier has published a more than eighty-five stories African-American Review, Agni, Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere.
Her collection is summarized in the book’s introduction: Gautier’s stories have you by the throat, and they surprise you with their mercy.”
Gautier said this about the origin her piece: My story “Lost and Found” was inspired by multiple factors, but perhaps the main inspirations were the Shawn Hornbeck case and the remembrance of the faces of missing children on milk cartons.
I grew up eating my cereal to the face of lost kids. Every morning, staring back at me were the faces of kids who’d been snatched and were now lost, while I was safe and sound at my kitchen table preparing for the school day. I wondered who these kids were, what they were doing at the exact moment I was eating, if they knew people were looking for them, if they saw their own faces on the milk, if they would ever be found. Learning that Hornbeck had been found and returned to his family after being missing for between three and four years gave me hope that all of those who were lost would be found, but it also sparked a barrage of questions.
In addition to wanting to know what would happen next to him (or anyone who had been rescued after such a long absence), I wanted to know what happens in between. When children go missing, there is often so much focus on the searching part that it’s easy to forget about the moments of being that occur while one is being searched for. What happens while one is waiting to be found? What stories does one tell of the moments of waiting, hoping, and despairing, that lie between being lost and being found? “Lost and Found” is my attempt to explore those moments.
Robert Boswell said of the collection: “Amina Gautier’s third prize-winning collection of stories should be the breakout book that establishes her as one of the best writers of short fiction in the country. THE LOSS OF ALL LOST THINGS is a powerful, bold collection that examines the clark corners of the culture – those poorly concealed places that we prefer to forget. Gautier forgets nothing and no one. This is a splendid book by an important writer.”