‘Found Objects’ by Jennifer Egan

Found Objects by Jennifer Egan, 2007

The magic trick:

Using patient-therapist sessions as a storytelling framework  

We’ve got a weekend doubleheader for you featuring two stories of therapy. “Found Objects” today and “Flashlight” by Susan Choi tomorrow both are built around protagonists sharing their stories through appointments with psychiatrists.

Which does segue us nicely to today’s magic trick.

“Found Objects,” you might have heard, is built around a protagonist sharing her story through appointments with a psychiatrist.

Sure, the story does a lot of interesting things around that premise – bouncing between memories and anecdotes. The key, though, is the relationship between the protagonist and her therapist, and the storytelling mechanism those scenes unlock.

And that’s quite a trick on Egan’s part.


The selection:

He was trying to get Sasha to use that word, which was harder to avoid in the case of a wallet than with a lot of the things she’d lifted over the past year, when her condition (as Coz referred to it) had begun to accelerate: five sets of keys, fourteen pairs of sunglasses, a child’s striped scarf, binoculars, a cheese grater, a pocket knife, twenty-eight bars of soap, eighty-five pens, ranging from cheap ballpoints she’d used to sign debit-card slips to the aubergine Visconti that cost two hundred and sixty dollars online, which she’d lifted from her former boss’s lawyer during a contracts meeting. Sasha never took anything from stores—their cold, inert goods didn’t tempt her. Only from people.

“O.K.,” she said. “Steal it.”


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