Synopses & Reviews
In this illuminating collection of oral-history style interviews, Casey Jarman talks to a funeral industry watchdog about the (often shady) history of the death trade; he hears how songwriter David Bazan lost his faith while trying to hold on to his family; he learns about cartoonist Art Spiegelman using his college LSD trips to explain death to his children; and he gets to know his own grandparents, posthumously. These are stories of loss, rebuilding, wonder, and wild speculation featuring everyone from philosophers to former death row wardens and hospice volunteers. In these moving, enlightening, and often funny conversations, the end is only the beginning.
Jarman a contributing editor at the Believer confronts his own mortal dread with this profound collection of essays based on oral history–style interviews with experts on death such as Maus cartoonist Art Spiegelman a funeral focused consumer advocate and a hospice worker. A childhood friend of Jarman’s recounts his grief after his twin brother shot himself when the boys were in seventh grade and his feelings of being left behind. A philosophy professor at Oregon State University outlines the curriculum for his “Death and Dying” course. A certified professional in life celebrations discusses the human need for ritual. Proving that even death has a mundane side a reporter for the trade magazine Mortuary Management breaks down her process of writing copy for funeral home websites. In the most devastating chapter Jarman interviews a close friend dealing with the recent and sudden death of her mother. Her shock and pain are visceral on the page and she provides practical advice on how to support a grieving friend. Through Jarman’s discerning curation interesting thought patterns emerge. Even those dealing with death professionally discuss it with remarkable candor and intimacy. These people many of whom walk with death gracefully every day make the concept a little less frightening—and deeply human. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
"[O]ne of the most fun, surprising, and inventive essay books readers might find on any subject....Part memoir, with the flow and appeal similar to that of an episode of NPR’s This American Life, this revelation of a book is chock-full of vignettes that dig deep into the psyche of the Grim Reaper and how we deal with him." Booklist
"[A] profound collection of essays....These people, many of whom walk with death gracefully every day, make the concept a little less frightening—and deeply human." Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Casey Jarman has served as the music editor at the Pulitzer Prize-winning weekly Willamette Week in Portland, Oregon, and managing editor of the Believer in San Francisco. He co-founded Party Damage Records
in 2013. He has written for the Believer, Nylon, Portland Monthly, Willamette Week, Next American City, and Reed Magazine, as well as various online publications. He is currently a contributing editor at the Believer. He lives in Portland with his wife and two cats.