Synopses & Reviews
"Every year I bury a couple hundred of my townspeople." So opens this singular and wise testimony. Like all poets, inspired by death, Thomas Lynch is, unlike others, also hired to bury the dead or to 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 ear tuned to the indispensable vernaculars of love and grief. In these twelve pieces his is the voice of both witness and functionary. Here, Lynch, poet to the dying, names the hurts and whispers the condolences and shapes the questions posed by this familiar mystery. 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 the lessons for life our mortality teaches us.
"An exquisitely dressed but subliminally bruised homage to life and its glazed-eyed endings. --The Observer (London) on " The Observer [London]
"From somber to black comedy to plainspoken to lamentation. . . . is a masterpiece." John Lanchester
Like all poets inspired by death, Thomas Lynch is, unlike others, also hired to bury the dead or to cremate them and to tend to their families in a small Michigan town where he serves as funeral director. In this book, Lynch, poet to the dying, names the hurts and whispers the condolences and shapes the questions posed by the familiar mystery known as death.
Here is the voice of both witness and functionary. Lynch stands between 'the living and the living who have died' with outrage and amazement, awe and calm, straining for the brief glimpse we all get of what mortality means to a vital species.
A chronicle of small-town life and death told through the eyes of a poet who is also an undertaker.
'[Lynch] brings the lessons of death to life, and turns life and death into art.' '"Time Out New York
Includes bibliographical references (p. -202).
About the Author
Thomas Lynch's stories, poems, and essays have appeared in Granta, The Atlantic, Harper’s, the Times (of London, New York, Ireland, and Los Angeles), and elsewhere. The Undertaking was a finalist for the National Book Award; he is also the author of Still Life in Milford, Booking Passage, Apparition & Late Fictions and Walking Papers. Lynch lives in Milford, Michigan, and West Clare, Ireland.