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2 Beaverton Health and Medicine- Death and Dying

The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade

by

The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade Cover

ISBN13: 9780140276237
ISBN10: 0140276238
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

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Staff Pick

Thomas Lynch has two occupations: poet and undertaker. Wedding the two in this book of personal essays, he shatters our conception of an undertaker as wan, reserved, and staid, replacing it with one who is colorful, brazen, and whimsical. This is not a dry, dismal book about death. It's a book about life and those who attend to the grieving. It meditates on marriage, parenthood, Ireland, and medically-controlled passings. There's an absorbing essay on a poem about an artichoke, the mysteries of art, and the delicate conference between men and women, as well as a ribald essay, "Crapper," about our inability to deal with an actual dead body, let alone the mere thought of dying. Undertaking, as the title implies, stretches beyond mere caskets and morticians to encompass small tasks and larger struggles. At times a homage to grieving families, an indictment of the funeral business, and a meditation on death (and therefore life), this is a spellbinding collection.
Recommended by Tricia, Powell's Books for Home and Garden

Synopses & Reviews

From Powells.com:

Thomas Lynch would make a wonderful lunch companion. He's wise, playfully intelligent, and darkly humorous, the perfect person to converse with about life, family, morality, and faith. All over a good bottle of red. That he is both poet and undertaker would lend the discourse a more enigmatic and soulful tone, as well as a good dose of the pragmatism necessary for one in his profession. Lynch's The Undertaking, a National Book Award nominee and winner of the American Book Award in 1998, comprises a series of essays chronicling life as the local undertaker in the small Michigan town of Milford. Along with touching descriptions of Milford's inhabitants, domestic details and intimacies (from his broken marriage to his Uncle Eddie's suicide cleanup service) there are Lynch's quirky imaginings, such as his idea to create a "golfatorium" ? a combination golf course and cemetery. He followed in his father's footsteps professionally, and writes about the task of embalming him on his death. Suicide and Jack Kevorkian, infant death and car crashes, actuarial tables and the hundred percent guarantee that we're all going to kick it in the end, all appear in this memoir-meets-musings, with plenty of fascinating insider knowledge for a little spice. Lynch writes as much about poetry as he does about death, and yet the fundamental theme is life ? in all its grace and pain. After all, we are continually reminded in The Undertaking that "the dead don't care." Abigail, Powells.com

Publisher Comments:

Thomas Lynch serves his readership as a poet and memoirist, and his townspeople as a funeral director. In this wholly unique collection of essays, the two vocations meet as Lynch shows himself to be a competent functionary of mourning — dispensing comfort and homespun wisdom to the grief-stricken — as well as a poet poignantly tuning language to the right tones of private release. He is also a man of sardonic wit, uncovering humor where we least thought to find it — in our fear of and fascination with death. In its homages to parents who have died and to children who shouldn't have, its tales of golfers tripping over grave markers, portraits of gourmands and hypochondriacs, lovers and suicides, The Undertaking displays an impressively wide vocal range — from solemn, nostalgic, and lyrical to acerbic, sprightly, and unflinchingly professional.

Synopsis:

A National Book Award finalist, this collection of unique essays "brims with humanity, irreverence, and invigorating candor" ("The Nation").

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Mihoppygirl, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by Mihoppygirl)
A thoughtful exploration in poetry and prose
regarding the meaning of "good deaths, good grief, and good funerals."
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Andrea Oyarzabal, December 26, 2009 (view all comments by Andrea Oyarzabal)
Thomas Lynch has a way with words about death, life, and everything in between, like no other author. His unique perspective on something that can be considered dark brings light and warmth to the essays. This collection has easily become my new favorite book, as it is poignant, breathtaking, and mesmerizing.
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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
Carol Covert, March 28, 2008 (view all comments by Carol Covert)
People look at you funny when you tell them that you are reading a book by an undertaker/poet . This is a wonderful book about life from the other side - - from a man who has a deep appreciation of life.( Kevorkian is his version of a 4 letter word).I was certain that I never wanted children before I read it but it changed my mind and now I have very cool twin boys.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780140276237
Subtitle:
Life Studies from the Dismal Trade
Author:
Lynch, Thomas
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Location:
New York :
Subject:
Essays
Subject:
Death
Subject:
Grief
Subject:
Undertakers and undertaking
Subject:
Death & Dying
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1985
Edition Description:
Mass Market
Publication Date:
19980901
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
7.94x5.08x.60 in. .41 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Death and Dying
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » History of Medicine
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » General

The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade Used Trade Paper
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$3.95 In Stock
Product details 224 pages Penguin Books - English 9780140276237 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Thomas Lynch has two occupations: poet and undertaker. Wedding the two in this book of personal essays, he shatters our conception of an undertaker as wan, reserved, and staid, replacing it with one who is colorful, brazen, and whimsical. This is not a dry, dismal book about death. It's a book about life and those who attend to the grieving. It meditates on marriage, parenthood, Ireland, and medically-controlled passings. There's an absorbing essay on a poem about an artichoke, the mysteries of art, and the delicate conference between men and women, as well as a ribald essay, "Crapper," about our inability to deal with an actual dead body, let alone the mere thought of dying. Undertaking, as the title implies, stretches beyond mere caskets and morticians to encompass small tasks and larger struggles. At times a homage to grieving families, an indictment of the funeral business, and a meditation on death (and therefore life), this is a spellbinding collection.

"Synopsis" by , A National Book Award finalist, this collection of unique essays "brims with humanity, irreverence, and invigorating candor" ("The Nation").

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