Lost and Gone Away

Lynn Jenner

Mostly I find books and facts in my excavations. Books are my listening and viewing devices, my undersea cables, my hearing aids, my best friends in troubled times and my weapon of choice. I am not easily cowed by their origins or their methods, even when these are august. I look them straight in the eye and take them on if I think they are wrong and I mess about with them quite a bit. . . . Sometimes, rising up from a pile of facts or a book, and hovering over it, is something I think of as a moment of knowledge.

 

Between 2010 and 2014 Lynn Jenner made several related emotional and intellectual investigations. Lost and Gone Away is the literary record of these: a fascinating, four-part hybrid of memoir, essays, prose poems and poetry. Through the book Jenner considers loss both small and enormous – that of an object, a loved one, a world and its literature, entire communities – but perhaps her ultimate subject is the act of searching itself.

 

The book traverses the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake; samples and sifts through the lost and recovered detritus of the ancient world; radiates its attention out from that epicentre of loss, the Point Last Seen, from which all searches begin; and finally, quietly, devastatingly, explores how one might think and write about the Holocaust, from far away.

 

More than a year ago a friend, who speaks five languages and reads several more, told me it would not be possible to write about the Holocaust from New Zealand. There’s so little to say here, she said. You should go to Europe.
     But this is where I am, I said. That is the problem. This is where I am from, this is who I am, and this is where I am.

 

The cumulative result is a fresh, sobering and searching intellectual journey – asking many questions and coming to few conclusions. It is a tremendously powerful work of creative nonfiction.

 

Finalist, Ockham New Zealand Book Awards 2016

 

 

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Lynn Jenner began writing at the age of 49. In 2008, while studying at the International Institute of Modern letters, she received the Adam Prize in Creative Writing for the manuscript of Dear Sweet Harry ‘the autobiography of an obsession’ – which was then published by Auckland University Press and won the NZSA Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry. Her poetry has been widely published in the literary journals, here and overseas, including Carcanet’s Oxford Poets: An Anthology, 2013. Jenner wrote the thesis upon which this book is based in 2010–2012; her PhD was awarded in 2013.

 

July 2015, 210 x 140 mm, 284 pages
Paperback, ISBN 978 1 86940 840 4, $34.99