Like all poets, inspired by death, Lynch is, unlike others, also hired to bury the dead or cremate them and to tend to their families in a small Michigan town where he serves as the funeral director. In the conduct of these duties he has kept his eyes open, his ears tuned to the indispensable vernaculars of love and grief. In these twelve essays ...
Like all poets, inspired by death, Lynch is, unlike others, also hired to bury the dead or cremate them and to tend to their families in a small Michigan town where he serves as the funeral director. In the conduct of these duties he has kept his eyes open, his ears tuned to the indispensable vernaculars of love and grief. In these twelve essays is the voice of both witness and functionary. Lynch stands between 'the living and the living who have dies' with the same outrage and amazement, straining for the same glimpse we all get of what mortality means to a vital species. So here is homage to parents who have died and to children who shouldn't have. Here are golfers tripping over grave-markers, gourmands and hypochondriacs, lovers and suicides. These are essays of rare elegance and grace, full of fierce compassion and rich in humour and humanity - lessons taught to the living by the dead.
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I found this book right after I was diagnosed with cancer. I got such comfort from it and it helped me deal with the fears I had about my possible death. The risk of death and the awful fear was almost 12 years ago, but I still buy this book for anyone I meet who is facing those issues for themselves or a loved one.
Publishers Weekly, 1997-05-05 Like his father and most of his siblings, Michigan poet Lynch (Heather Grace) runs a funeral home, "a kind of family farm, working the back forty of the emotional register." In this superb collection of essays, he melds poetic language, resonant anecdotes and meditative musings about the rights/rites of passage. Lynch knows that funerals are for survivors: "Any damage or decency we do accrues for the living." Musing on the fixtures in his old house, Lynch concludes that only funeral homes and toilet makers offer their names as guarantors for their products. The son of a father "accustomed to random and unreasonable damage" and a mother who tended to trust God, he grew up with an acute sense of risk; as an adult, he also learned to fear, wanting for his children not riches but mere survival. During neighborhood walks, his wife catalogues architecture; Lynch recalls the stories of the dead behind small-town walls. His years of cleaning up after suicides have led him to a bedrock conclusion: vision comes not by violence but through growth, and while he has thoughts of hopelessness, he never considers suicide. With dignity and passion, he takes on Jessica Mitford, the muckraker whose The American Way of Death attacked his industry; Mitford called it barbaric to fuss over a dead body, but Lynch calls a "kindness" what a colleague does to restore the corpse of a murdered girl. He even criticizes the "sensible" move toward prearranged funerals: "If we are not to be a burden to our children, then to whom?" (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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