Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: June 16, 2020
Lost PropertyMemoirs and Confessions of a Bad Boy
by Ben Sonnenberg, introduction by Maria Margaronis
June 2020 selection of the NYRB Classics Book Club.
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.
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