In the tradition of NPR’s National Story Project comes this funky collection of letters, flyers and other miscellany from the pages of Found magazine. Rothbart, the magazine’s editor and founder, has pulled together the funniest, weirdest and most moving items found by himself and his readers over the years. Fairly typical is the note left on a car’s windshield, intended for a wayward boyfriend named Mario: “You said you had to work then whys your car here at HER place?…. I hate you…” piling invective upon invective until concluding: “p.s. Page me later.” Rothbart and company find stuff just about everywhere: on buses, taped to trees, underneath Coke machines, in the recycling bin at Kinko’s. Some items are heartbreaking (a missing person poster found in Manhattan after September 11), some hilarious (an algebra test, flunked with creativity and panache) and some just plain odd (a note directing residents to lock a door in order to “prevent unauthorized people from entering the building and defecating in the washing machine”). There are some explanations, but mostly, the trash speaks for itself, reproduced with Rothbart’s particular punk-collagist aesthetic. At times, reading the notes and letters feels uncomfortably voyeuristic, and inevitably, readers are left wanting more, wishing for details about these lives beyond what the sketchy fragments provide (did that scoundrel Mario ever change his wanton ways?). A provocative and original book, Rothbart’s collection manages to pull laughter and drama from the flotsam and jetsam of society.
by Davy Rothbart
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