For nearly four decades, poet, essayist, and small-town funeral director Thomas Lynch has probed relations between the literary and mortuary arts. His life’s work with the dead and the bereaved has informed four previous collections of nonfiction, each exploring identity and humanity with Lynch’s signature blend of memoir, meditation, gallows humor, and poetic precision.
The Depositions provides an essential selection from these masterful collectionsessays on fatherhood, Irish heritage, funeral rites, and the perils of bodiless obsequiesas well as new essays in which the space between Lynch’s hyphenated identitiesas an Irish American, undertaker-poetis narrowed by the deaths of poets, the funerals of friends, the loss of neighbors, intimate estrangements, and the slow demise of a beloved dog.
In “Gladstone,” from The Undertaking, Lynch reflects on his then twenty-five years as an undertaker at the Midwinter Conference for Michigan funeral directors, which incongruously takes place on an island in the Caribbean. With brutal, generous honesty, “The Way We Are,” from Bodies in Motion and at Rest, grapples with Lynch’s time as a single parent coming to terms with generations of his family inheritance of alcoholism and recovery. The press of the author’s own mortality animates the new essays, sharpening a curiosity about where we come from, where we go, and what it means.
As Alan Ball writes in a penetrating foreword, Lynch’s work allows us “to see both the absurdity and the beauty of death, sometimes simultaneously.” With this landmark collection, he continues to illuminate not only how we die, but also how we live.
|Publisher:||Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.40(d)|
About the Author
Table of Contents
Foreword Alan Ball vii
from The Undertaking
The Undertaking 3
The Right Hand of the Father 36
The Golfatorium 49
from Bodies in Motion and at Rest
Bodies in Motion and at Rest 87
Fish Stories 92
The Way We Are 124
from Booking Passage
Introduction-The Ethnography of Everyday Life 159
The Brother 180
The Same But Different 199
The Sisters Godhelpus 228
from The Good Funeral
How We Come to Be the Ones We Are 245
The Theory and Practice of Cremation 270
Moveable and Steadfast Feasts 305
Whence & Whither 321
The Done Thing 327
Permissions Credits 341