The Loss of All Lost Things

Amina Gau­tier

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction - AMY O’LOUGH­LIN

Elixir Press Soft­cover $19 (216pp) 978-1-932418-56-9

Loss is an or­di­nary hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence, and Gau­tier cap­tures its com­mon­al­ity well, mak­ing The Loss of all Lost Things an emo­tion­ally tri­umphant col­lec­tion.

Amina Gau­tier’s short story col­lec­tion The Loss of All Lost Things is an ex­quis­ite por­trait of hu­man ex­pe­ri­ences and the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of loss.

Loss as­sails every char­ac­ter in the col­lec­tion’s fif­teen sto­ries. Some have lost their chil­dren; others have lost their iden­tity, di­rec­tion in life, and ca­pa­bil­ity. Some mourn a loved one’s death, and some lament a lover’s de­ser­tion. No mat­ter the type of loss they suf­fer, the char­ac­ters don’t deny their pain, lone­li­ness, and be­wil­der­ment. They feel it, grap­ple with it, and en­dure it, aware they must cope with “the liv­ing that mus­cles through” their day-to-day ex­is­tence.

Gau­tier’s nar­ra­tive style is sub­tle. Story open­ings pull back the cur­tain on char­ac­ter lives, which are in full progress when the sto­ries be­gin. In­ter­est in pro­tag­o­nists’ per­son­al­i­ties and predica­ments is in­stantly and im­me­di­ately earned. Skill­ful, unadorned, and eco­nom­i­cal prose builds emo­tional in­ten­sity sen­tence by sen­tence. A slow, steady, and breath­tak­ing de­pic­tion of sear­ing loss emerges; it un­folds in an al­most un­event­ful man­ner, in prose that is never bla­tant, but is rather mea­sured, com­mand­ing, and haunt­ing.

No life-al­ter­ing epipha­nies con­clude these sto­ries, though char­ac­ters do re­veal, in pre­cise ter­mi­nol­ogy, un­der­stand­ings of who they’ve be­come in their loss. In “Most Hon­est,” the divorced nar­ra­tor es­chews his sit­u­a­tion: “Di­vorce is my wife’s word. I pre­fer dis­so­lu­tion. It makes our mar­riage sound like a crys­talline sub­stance, glit­tery yet hard, suc­cumb­ing to forces greater than it­self.” In “Lost and Found,” an ag­o­niz­ing nar­ra­tive about a kid­napped boy, the boy con­sid­ers him­self “lost in­stead of taken … Things that are taken are never given back. Things that are lost can be found.” In the col­lec­tion’s ti­tle story, told from the boy’s par­ents’ view­point, the grief they suf­fer from the kid­nap­ping de­fines them: “It’s all they have left of him. They keep it to them­selves, feed­ing and suck­ing on who they are—the par­ents of a lost boy.”

Melan­choly and remorse per­me­ate the col­lec­tion, yet the heav­i­ness isn’t un­bear­able. Loss is an or­di­nary hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence, and Gau­tier cap­tures its com­mon­al­ity well, mak­ing The Loss of all Lost Things an emo­tion­ally tri­umphant col­lec­tion.

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