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The Truth About Death: And Other Stories
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The Truth About Death: And Other Stories

by Robert Hellenga
 

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The Truth About Death," the title novella of this virtuosic collection, is a masterpiece of sardonic humor that confronts Death head on and emerges bloody but unbowed. Simon, an undertaker, embalms his own father and faces his own death. Louisa, Simon's mother, makes peace with her husband over his dead body in a cooler in the basement of the funeral home. Simon

Overview

The Truth About Death," the title novella of this virtuosic collection, is a masterpiece of sardonic humor that confronts Death head on and emerges bloody but unbowed. Simon, an undertaker, embalms his own father and faces his own death. Louisa, Simon's mother, makes peace with her husband over his dead body in a cooler in the basement of the funeral home. Simon contemplates the mystery of death over a plate of spaghetti cacio e pepe in Rome with an Italian undertaker. The dog, Maya--who works as a greeter at the funeral home where she comforts those who are grieving hardest--eventually makes the truth about death known to Elizabeth, Simon's wife. New Yorker cartoons keep the family laughing during the most difficult months, Elizabeth decides to show her own cartoons (included here), to the New Yorker cartoon editor, Bob Mankoff, at his office in New York.

The serious issues cleverly addressed in The Truth About Death are touched with warmth, humor, and deep feeling in the eight "Other Stories," not by invoking comforting fairy tales but by accepting the fact that death and grief are part of the natural order of things. As Maya explains to Elizabeth, "It's just the way things are.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Mortality is far more than an intimation in The Truth About Death, nine searching, mature stories that encompass grand passions and fleeting romantic adventures." —NPR.org

“Gripping and unpredictable . . . immensely satisfying.” —Mary Doria Russell, The Washington Post, on THE CONFESSIONS OF FRANCES GODWIN

“Hellenga creates a teacher you will wish you had studied with, and a character to remember.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch on THE CONFESSIONS OF FRANCES GODWIN

“Hellenga neatly balances the pallet trucks of the wholesale produce business with the idiosyncrasies of translating the ribald poetry of Catullus . . . Although the story ranges wide, The Confessions of Frances Godwin is firmly rooted in the culture and values of Hellenga's perfectly rendered Midwest.” —Shelf Awareness on THE CONFESSIONS OF FRANCES GODWIN

“His latest novel [is] one of his best . . . Hellenga . . . is one of those writers who inspire a special kind of devotion in their readers . . . The beauty of this novel and, in fact, of all of Hellenga's work, lies in the scrupulous attention he pays to those different shapes that life takes. Like Frances, we find in their very concreteness a way of living with the uncertainty that surrounds us.” —starred review, Booklist, on THE CONFESSIONS OF FRANCES GODWIN

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781632862914
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
04/05/2016
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
1,351,850
Product dimensions:
8.20(w) x 5.50(h) x 1.20(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Robert Hellenga was educated at the University of Michigan and Princeton University. He is a professor at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, and the author of the novels The Confessions of Frances Godwin, Snakewoman of Little Egypt, The Sixteen Pleasures, The Fall of a Sparrow, Blues Lessons, Philosophy Made Simple, and The Italian Lover. He lives in Galesburg, Illinois.

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