LOST AND FOUND by Carolyn Parkhurst

Back in August, I blogged about Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst. I just finished it. I liked it, didn’t love it. 

I am a big fan of "The Amazing Race," so I enjoyed all the background details about filming an around-the-world reality TV show.  I also liked the descriptions of the places the contestants visited and the tasks they had to complete. The best part of the book, though, is Parkhurt’s exploration of the different characters, what motivated them to come on the show, and their relationships with their partners.  The narration rotates among the characters, but the plot moves ahead steadily, thankfully with little repetition of detail or plot points.

My complaints are: 1) some characters were less well-drawn than others, which ultimately made them less compelling; 2) the gay theme (a few characters are gay – some in, some out, some in denial) is overdone – it tended to pervade the whole book; and 3) the contestants were way too cynical and unhappy for this naive TV viewer.  I watch "The Amazing Race" to escape from my own reality for an hour a week; I like to believe that the players are having fun and savoring the incredibly unique experience they’re having, regardless of whether they’re winning.  I realize that Parkhurst is satirizing the genre; I guess I didn’t need to have the genre satirized.

All of that said, Lost and Found is well-written, engaging, and entertaining. I did enjoy it and would recommend it.

3 Comments

  • Nancy
    October 10, 2006 - 11:50 am | Permalink

    I haven’t read “Lost and Found,” but the premise reminds me of a novel I read last year called “Four Crows” by Andrea Peters. “Four Crows” played on the idea of a reality show gone horribly wrong — five contestants are lured into what they think is a Survivor/Fear Factor-type show but in fact it is all a trick, and they end up in horrific situations doing bizarre and awful things. (The point of the trick is never quite clear.) I can’t exactly recommend it, because the writing is bad and the copy-editing is astonishingly poor, but readers who like “Lost and Found” might find it worthwhile for a comparison-read (it wouldn’t take long to get through).

  • Len
    October 16, 2006 - 3:38 pm | Permalink

    I read “Dogs of Babel” by Parkhurst and found it really good, but not necessarily great. The decline of the main character was pretty compelling and I found myself rushing to the end of it to find out what happens.
    NOTE TO ANIMAL LOVERS: There are some unsettling parts to “Dogs of Babel”.
    NOTE TO REALITY TV LOVERS: For a really disturbing take on reality TV, read Chuck Pahliniuk’s latest book, “Haunted.”

  • Nancy
    October 19, 2006 - 1:08 pm | Permalink

    I am now about 1/3 through “Lost and Found” and am really enjoying it. I have to say that one of my favorite aspects of it is that the actual “scavenger hunt” details — the premise of the reality show the characters are on — are pleasantly underplayed. I feared getting drawn into long, dramatic accounts of searches for this icon or that relic — and not being an “Amazing Race” fan, I was not the least bit interested in that aspect of the plot. Indeed, and perhaps because this novel is a satire, the characters always find the challenges almost absurdly easy to solve — oh look, there’s the shard of a ruin that we’re supposed to search the city of Cairo for, now let me continue telling you my backstory. I love this!

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