This book is a serious delight, a dish you can snack on or dine on. The greatest delight is reading the heart of the author in who he writes about and how he writes. And finally, I find I will also make a mark on someone’s life, although maybe not be remembered by the New York Times or by such a personable poet. Recommended By Doug C., Powells.com
In A Year in the Life of Death, Shawn Levy’s provocative, insightful book of poetry based on New York Times obituaries from 2016, each poem is a tiny mystery story with the last line revealing its subject. So many made me cry. So many made me laugh. Together, they form a unique history of the 20th century full of fascinating facts, nostalgia, social and political commentary, and, of course, human stories running the gamut from heroes and celebrities to unknown people I’m so glad to have been introduced to through Levy’s elegant words. Recommended By Gigi L., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
When Shawn Levy had the notion to write a poem each day for a year, inspired by the obituary pages of The New York Times, he had no way of knowing that the year in question, 2016, would claim so many of the world's most iconic figures. His project became, in effect, a vehicle for surveying the breadth of the twentieth century: Titans from all fields of endeavor, lives that contained one quirky but insoluble achievement, and people who had special significance in his own life. From Nancy Reagan to Muhammad Ali, David Bowie to Arnold Palmer, Prince to Janet Reno, Antonin Scalia to Mary Tyler Moore, and including a Black Miss America, an obsessive weather reporter, the nurse famously kissed by a sailor on VJ Day, the man who put the '@' in your email address, and the last man to walk on the moon, the lives recollected in these one hundred poems provoke compassion, sorrow, outrage, surprise, nostalgia, even laughter.
“This book is a wailing song, with side eye when and where you need it. These poems are a resuscitation of art and heart.” Lidia Yuknavitch, author of Verge
“I'm grateful to Shawn Levy for reminding me what a generous, evocative exchange the newspaper obituary can be.” Elena Passarello, author of Animals Strike Curious Poses
“A staggering symphony of lives, with parallels to Michael Lesy's Wisconsin Death Trip and Jim Carroll's 'People Who Died.'” Ed Skoog, author of Run the Red Lights
“With his gimlet eye and big heart, Levy takes us on a backstage tour of our own popular culture.” Dobby Gibson, author of Little Glass Planet
“Moving and insightful...a striking montage.” Juan Delgado, author of Vital Sign
About the Author
Shawn Levy is the international bestselling author of The Castle on Sunset, Paul Newman: A Life, Rat Pack Confidential, and six other books of biography and pop culture history. A former film critic for The Oregonian and KGW-TV, he has written for The New York Times, Interview, Sight and Sound, Variety, The Guardian, The Village Voice, The Black Rock Beacon, and many, many other publications. He holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of California, Irvine and serves on the board of Operation Pitch Invasion in Portland, Oregon, where he jumps and claps and sings for victory.