Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Lost: A Memoir by Cathy Ostlere

I had a bad feeling most of the time I spent reading Cathy Ostlere’s skillfully wrought memoir of a family’s grief, Lost (Key Porter). The award-winning writer has a wonderful way with language and, despite the personal nature of the material she covers here, she approaches it with a journalist’s eye and heart. Even so, almost from the very first moment, you get the feeling that this is a story that can’t have a happy ending. From the beginning, there’s something in Ostlere’s tone; something in the slow, stately march of the words she chooses to relate this deeply personal tale. Lost breaks the heart, again and again. Sometimes, it breaks the heart too much.
I am holding my brother’s life in the soft flesh of my throat. I dare not tell for fear I’ll drop the ball of thread and lose us. If I speak, will the sky fall in? I am sister, daughter, wife, and mother – there is no myth to guide me with this question.
And that’s just from page 11.

In the mid-1990s, Ostlere’s word traveling, adventure loving brother disappeared while sailing his 28-foot sailboat from Ireland to Madeira, alone but for his girlfriend, Sarah. On his birthday, months after he set off, his family realizes he’s missing. Then they try to find him.

And sometimes it breaks the heart. Too much.

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