PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Books

The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay

Carol Deptolla
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (MCT)

Bookish The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay keeps the pages turning.


The Secret of Lost Things

Publisher: Doubleday
ISBN: 038551848X
Author: Sheridan Hay
Price: $23.95
Length: 354
Formats: Hardcover
US publication date: 2007-03
Amazon

Every book lover knows there's an entire universe to be found inside a book and, by extension, inside a bookstore. It's a universe that, if we're lucky, is a place both peculiar and comfortable.

The Secret of Lost Things, the debut novel by Sheridan Hay that revolves around a bookstore, conjures such a universe, one that any reader would be glad to inhabit and sorry to see end.

Call her Rosemary Savage. The 18-year-old Tasmanian compares herself to Ishmael of Moby-Dick fame: She's an orphan in exile, only she's taken Ishmael's journey in reverse, landing in New York to start life anew.

All alone, her name known to no one, Rosemary wanders Manhattan and stumbles across a used- and rare-book store, the Arcade, a virtual repository of lost things to match her losses so early in life. Naturally, she feels at home there. Rosemary is hired by owner George Pike, a throwback who refers to himself in the third person and makes clear that theft will not be tolerated at his store.

Like Ishmael, Rosemary finds her own albino, store manager Walter Geist: "I had the fleeting fantasy that this man was what someone would look like if they'd been born inside the Arcade, never having left its dim confines. Pigment would disappear and eyesight would be ruined beneath the weak light, until one lay passively like a flounder on the ocean floor."

Her other co-workers, as diverse as Ishmael's crewmates, include the unattainable Oscar Jarno, a dressmaker's son whose expertise is non-fiction and fabric, a font of knowledge who scribbles notes of his wide-ranging research in an ever-present notebook; Rosemary considers him her counterpart. There's Arthur Pick, an Englishman who's in charge of the art section; Bruno Gurvich, a Ukrainian, and Jack Conway, an Irishman, who sort the paperbacks, considered the least of the books in the overstuffed store; and the courtly overseer of the rare-book room, Robert Mitchell, whom Rosemary regards as the father she never knew.

Pearl Baird, the store's transsexual cashier who longs to become an opera singer, becomes one of Rosemary's two close friends. The other is Lillian La Paco, an Argentinian who is a desk clerk at the women's hotel where Rosemary stays and who carries her own heavy burden of loss. The women help Rosemary through her roughest patches and give her someone to worry about, in lieu of blood relations.

Rosemary soon becomes entwined in literary intrigue involving a manuscript of Herman Melville's lost and thus quite valuable novel, The Isle of the Cross. Much is to be gained for those involved, and much stands to be lost, too.

Hay's characters and places, from a hat shop in Tasmania to the overstuffed bookstore in New York that calls to mind the Strand, are finely and fully rendered. Like any great bookstore, this is a novel the reader doesn't want to leave.

Hay brings a universe-in-a-book to life for the reader in this novel of loss and freedom, and the juncture of the two.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.

Books

Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.

Music

Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.

Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Music

The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller
Music

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.

Music

When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.

Music

20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.

Music

The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.

Books

Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.

Music

Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."

Music

50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.

Film

Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.

Film

The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.

Music

Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.