Tragedy Plus Time

A Tragi-comic Memoir

Tragedy Plus Time

In the tradition of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and Truth & Beauty—from one of Variety’s “10 Comics to Watch,” a poignant tragicomic memoir about the author’s beautiful, funny, and heartbreaking relationship with his younger sister and the depression that took her life.

Adam Cayton-Holland went from a painfully sensitive kid growing up in Denver, Colorado, to a writer and performer with a burgeoning career in comedy. His father, a civil rights lawyer, and his mother, an investigative journalist, taught Adam and his two sisters to feel the pain of the world deeply and to combat it through any means necessary. Adam chose to meet life’s tough breaks and cruel realities with stand-up comedy; his older sister chose law; their youngest sister, Lydia, struggled with mental illness and ultimately took her own life.

This devastating tragedy strikes the Cayton-Holland household at the same moment Adam’s career is finally getting off the ground. Both a moving tribute to a lost sibling and an inspiring guide to navigating grief and pain, Tragedy Plus Time is a heartbreaking, honest, and darkly funny memoir about trying your hardest to choose life in the wake of a terrible loss.
  • Touchstone | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501170164 | 
  • August 2018
List Price $35.00 (price may vary by retailer)


To download a file to your computer right-click on the link and choose 'save file as'

High Resolution Images

Any use of an author photo must include its respective photo credit

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Tragedy Plus Time includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Adam Cayton-Holland. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


In Tragedy Plus Time, Adam Cayton-Holland tells the story of his sister Lydia’s suicide. He brings you into their shared childhood, in which Lydia was the most sensitive of the three Cayton-Holland kids, through their memories as adults beginning to find their place in the world.

From a young age, Lydia felt the pain of the world deeply and intimately. Whether she encountered the loss of a family friend, the body of a dead animal on the side of the road, or even a mugger attempting to rob her at knifepoint, Lydia responded with the utmost empathy. After struggling with mental illness for years, she ultimately took her own life.

As Adam grieves Lydia’s death, he works to accept that there will be so many successes, joys, and even sorrows that he won’t get to share with his little sister. He comes to understand that grieving is not necessarily a process with a beginning and end; it’s a constant state of being with its own paradoxical highs and lows. As Adam says, “I like to re see more

About the Author

Adam Cayton-Holland
Photograph © Ryan Brackin

Adam Cayton-Holland

Adam Cayton-Holland is a national touring comic who has appeared on Conan, @midnight, The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail, Happy Endings, Deadbeat, Flophouse, Hidden America with Jonah Ray, and was named one of Esquire’s “25 Comics to Watch” and Variety’s “10 Comics to Watch.” Adam co-created, writes, and stars in truTV’s Those Who Can’t along with his fellow members of the comedy troupe, The Grawlix. His albums I Don’t Know If I Happy and Backyards are available on iTunes, and his writing has appeared in Village Voice, Spin, The A.V. Club, and The Atlantic. Adam has been described as “genial” and “with pretty decent teeth.” He is the author of Tragedy Plus Time