Found II begins with a foreboding note: "Don't read beginning to end," says the scrawled message. "The madness will consume you." It couldn't be a more fitting warning for Found, a thoroughly engrossing magazine that collects similarly cast-off notes, signs, photos, shopping and to-do lists, doodles, and more.
Davy Rothbart created Found magazine in Chicago five years ago on that simple, ingenious premise, and the items he and his army of collectors have found comprise an endlessly entertaining, and frequently moving, peek into people's lives. Found II, the successor to the first Found collection published in 2004, has plenty of the former and a fair number of the latter, all of them enthralling.
The more entertaining items are often laugh-out-loud funny, such as a discreet note saying, "Please wrap tampons and pads in paper towels. We don't need the kids looking at it," a shopping list that includes "sugar free fucking syrup" ("fucking" underlined three times), a letter to Adam Sandler pitching a movie script that is "a combination of Days of thunder meets Joe Dirt with a little Waterboy and Happy Gilmore attitude," and too many others to mention.
A number of the finds aren't funny, though, and Found II ventures into new territory by including a couple of suicide notes—one just four sentences and handwritten, the other a page-long typed letter. As with everything here, the finds only tell part of the story; perhaps the writers didn't kill themselves, but the notes convey their overwhelming sadness. Along with similarly powerful finds peppered throughout the book, they add significant weight to Found's general breeziness. "I'll cry tomorrow," says one simple note, "too much too soon."
All the items list where they were found and by whom, and Rothbart offers insight and back-story via typewritten comments cut and taped into the layout. The 'zine aesthetics are another of Found's many charms; finds are literally taped onto a sheet of paper and copied. Professional graphic design would separate the reader and find too much. Found works so well because Rothbart keeps the concept simple, direct, and shtick-free. That initial warning is true—the madness will consume you, but in a good way.