Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Undertaking: Life Studies from a Dismal Trade

We did this for book group among my friends this month (I actually read the book and made it to the meeting). I had seen some of a PBS special about this man and was intrigued to hear that there was a book. Though the two weren't directly related-the special was not from the book-it proved to be an interesting read.
The author, Thomas Lynch, is a mortitian and a poet. This book is a series of essays that express his unique outlook on life due to his occupation of buring the dead. In truth the main focus of the book is on LIFE. When you are dead-you don't care, it is for those still living that death and burial have significance.
I will warn that the writing is frank, at times crude and morbid. There is some swearing and there are some disturbing details surounding death. But overall, really it is what it is. The book is interesting and eye opening. Lynch makes connections to death and life that I had never thought of (simple example: houses used to be where you were born and where you died and were laid out in the parlor. These services have now moved outside of the home. Hence the name "funeral parlors.") Lynch also explores why people feel and act the way they do about the dead. He is very insightful and very good with words.
I would recomend this book but with a cautionary note that this is not a book for every reader.

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