Lost Property: Memoirs and Confessions of a Bad Boy (Paperback)
A smart and hilarious memoir of privilege and excess told by the son of a powerful, seductive member of the New York elite.
Ben Sonnenberg grew up in the great house on Gramercy Park in New York City that his father, the inventor of modern public relations and the owner of a fine collection of art, built to celebrate his rise from the poverty of the Jewish Lower East Side to a life of riches and power. His son could have what he wanted, except perhaps what he wanted most: to get away.
Lost Property, a book of memoirs and confessions, is a tale of youthful riot and rebellion. Sonnenberg recounts his aesthetic, sexual, and political education, and a sometimes absurd flight into “anarchy and sabotage,” in which he reports to both the CIA and East German intelligence during the Cold War and, cultivating a dandy’s nonchalance, pursues a life of sexual adventure in 1960s London and New York. The cast of characters includes Orson Welles, Glenn Gould, and Sylvia Plath; among the subjects are marriage, children, infidelity, debt, divorce, literature, and multiple sclerosis.
The end is surprisingly happy.
About the Author
Ben Sonnenberg (1936-2010) was a playwright, poet, and publisher. In 1981, he started the literary magazine Grand Street, which he edited for nine years. He lived in New York City with his wife, the writer Dorothy Gallagher. In 1994, Sonnenberg was named an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Maria Margaronis is a writer, translator, and broadcaster. A former associate literary editor of The Nation and longtime writer for the magazine, her work has appeared in many other publications, including The Times Literary Supplement, London Review of Books, The Guardian, and Grand Street. She reports and presents radio documentaries for the BBC, and divides her time between London and Greece.
"Lost Property stands up to comparison with the great romantic autobiographies, with Stendhal’s Life of Henry Brulard and Musset’s Confessions of a Child of the Century, with Cyril Connolly’s aphoristic The Unquiet Grave and J.R. Ackerley’s delicious Hindoo Holiday. Its style is just right: darting, anecdotal, slightly bemused, possessing a lilting irony that makes for compulsive readability. There is also something funny, sexy, or shocking on every page." —Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
“In this wry, clever memoir, . . . Sonnenberg unabashedly chronicles a childhood of spoils coupled with an absence of familial affection, a psychological wound he salved with clothes, books and women. . . . his cleverness shines brightest in self-deprecating jabs.” —Connor Goodwin, InsideHook
"Here is the story . . . of Sonnenberg’s passage from sometimes wicked child of privilege to sexual and intellectual errant to bold editor of one of the great journals of our time, Grand Street . . . [Sonnenberg] remains the magical center, the touchstone of what in many ways is the tale of a lover’s progress, with its shames and virtues." —JoAnn Wypijewski, The Nation
"Lost Property chronicles the seductions and failures of a self-proclaimed poseur, a brilliant aesthete, and a son who was capable of living his life only after his father’s death . . . Sonnenberg’s voice is self-deprecating and proud, viciously funny and pained." —Jane Mendelsohn, The Village Voice
"Lost Property reads like a Henry James novel rewritten by Nabokov. Sonnenberg is acutely conscious of his rarity value as a Croesus-rich man of letters and uses his wealth and wealth of reading to indulge his taste for posing." —Susannah Herbert, The Sunday Telegraph