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Lost Property: Memoirs and Confessions of a Bad Boy Paperback – October 8, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint (October 8, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582430454
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582430454
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,104,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For much of his life, Sonnenberg, born in 1936, founder of the literary magazine Grand Street and son of one of the best-known public relations men in America, pursued "fastidious disengagement"--"Reading books, buying art, writing unproduced plays, seducing women." His memoir originates in Sonnenberg's father's home at 19 Gramercy Park, a grand private residence in Manhattan. It is his family's "showy, extravagant" ways that Sonnenberg tries to transcend, finding that his liberation cannot begin until his parents die. Only after the house is sold in 1980 and his parents' estates settled does he begin work on Grand Street , which makes him "happy, content and . . . proud." Also impelling change in his life is multiple sclerosis, which struck Sonnenberg at age 34, and his later marriage to his third wife. This is a dizzying yet quiet book. In some respects, Sonnenberg follows in the tradition of his favorite Continental autobiographers--Nabokov, Baudelaire, Stendhal--and presents a view of an artist's reactions to a kaleidoscopic world. But he also tells a fully American tale of will--how one tries to escape inherited surroundings and prove oneself through love and work.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

One of Sonnenberg's qualifications for membership in a literary hall of fame--a club, considering his obsessive name-dropping, he desperately wants us to believe he is already in--is his founding and editorship of Grand Street , an above-average literary journal. Much of this book is given to a heavy-handed attack on his father, a very successful PR man, and to bemoaning a life made easy by inherited wealth. Sonnenberg sounds as if he would have welcomed the political correctness of poverty. The self-directed satire and the attempts at irony usually fail, and we are left with a portrait of a spoiled brat. Moreover, some readers might be offended by his sexual bragging. This is a disappointing effort by a literary footnote.
- Vincent D. Balitas, Allentown Coll., Center Valley, Pa.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Warren Keith Wright on January 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
Ben Sonnenberg may rue that "in my worst recurring dream I'm cut at a party by Henry James," but James would be the loser. "Lost Property" takes up post-JFK New York City where Dawn Powell had to leave off, and Sonnenberg proves himself a one-man Goncourt Brothers. "Confessions" require transgressions, but being a "bad boy" suggests venial rather than venal sins. "I heard from a friend of my father's that no one is truly a man until his heart has been broken three times," a record easily surpassed in this chronicle of lovers, celebrities, and mismatches, projects, travels, and quiet triumphs, amid a torrent of literature. ("Publishers Weekly," above, neatly reprises the facts.)

Then midway through the journey of this life comes a knock at the door for this "grey-haired youth": MS. Yet his condition eventually let Sonnenberg channel his energies into founding the quarterly "Grand Street" and, between 1981 and 1990, editing 35 classic issues. The roll-call of topics and authors still astonishes: "A Grand Street Reader" (1986) and "Performance and Reality: Essays from Grand Street" (1989) collect 64 exemplary stories, poems, and essays.

Some reviewers of the original edition were upset by a confession which did not include absolution: there are explanations but, refreshingly, no excuses. Those who enjoy it will want to compare accounts with "Strangers in the House: Life Stories" by Dorothy Gallagher, his present wife. To dissuade her from marrying him, Sonnenberg says of MS, "It's pernicious, but not fatal"---an unfussy accuracy of word choice characteristic of a style like Sancerre, the clean, slatey white wine from the Loire. Counterpoint's handsome reissue re-sets the text attractively, and corrects a few errors; name-chasers will admire the useful index. (Check out Glenn Gould, pages 66-69.) "Lost Property" shows how one man trumped the curse of remembering.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By B. Grandon TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 7, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Once I read a memoir or biography that grabs my attention, I always want to read about all the characters that are referenced in the book, and that's how I came onto to this book.

The childhood in a storied New York landmark home were very intriguing. There wasn't as much objective detail about other relatives and people as I would have liked, but perhaps legal issues precluded that.
At the end of the day, not a lot was revealed, and the 'bad boy' reference wasn't filled out enough, to my way of thinking. Still, it gave me more pieces of the puzzle of a prominent and interesting family.
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Format: Paperback
This is an extremely entertaining book by a humorous, self honest, born storyteller. However, if you are going to write a book that is in no small part about growing up in the largest private home in Manhattan, and how the physical environment shaped your life, it is absolutely essential that you provide pictures ! You can find plenty of exterior shots of the 38 room house on Gramercy Park on Google and other search engines, but not a single interior photo. One would have wished that Mr. Sonnenberg didn't just leave it to our imaginations. His descriptions are vivid, but a picture IS worth a thousand words.
Otherwise, a winner !
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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Susan Bobst on November 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book made me miss my Metro stop and feed my children cold, canned food -- I couldn't get back to it fast enough and went through a minor depression after finishing it. Sonnenberg has a wonderful self-deprecating sense of humor and writes exquisitely. For some unknown reason, this book reminded me of "Of Human Bondage". If only he'd write another.... And without this book, the world would lose small gems such as "short, but very thick, and it smelled of honey."
There are some things the world needs to know.
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3 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
I wrote a review for amazon weeks ago and it hasn't appeared. Please let me know why.
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