The Undertaking
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The Undertaking : Life Studies from the Dismal Trade

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Description

Like all poets, inspired by death, Lynch is, unlike others, also hired to bury the dead or 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 ears tuned to the indispensable vernaculars of love and grief. In these twelve essays is the voice of both witness and functionary. Lynch stands between 'the living and the living who have dies' with the same outrage and amazement, straining for the same glimpse we all get of what mortality means to a vital species. 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 essays of rare elegance and grace, full of fierce compassion and rich in humour and humanity - lessons taught to the living by the dead.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 22mm | 240.41g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • VINTAGE
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • map
  • 0099767317
  • 9780099767312
  • 664,817

Review quote

"These craggy "life studies," forged during his years in the "dismal trade," are always forceful, authentic and full of a kind of ethical and esthetic clarity." -- Richard Bernstein New York Timesshow more

Review Text

A book, by an undertaker, about death. What fun. How to behave at a funeral, a discussion of euthanasia, dealing with bereavement. But in fact this is a very beguiling book. The undertaker, who has his business in a small Michigan town, is also a poet, and this is Lake Wobegon with tears. Though its subtitle is 'Life Studies from the Dismal Trade' it is far from dismal; it is wry, sensible and in many ways comforting. (Kirkus UK)show more

About Thomas Lynch

'Every year I bury a couple hundred of my townspeople.' So opens the singular testimony of the American poet, Thomas Lynch. Like all poets, inspired by death, Lynch is, unlike others, also hired to bury the dead or cremate them 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 ears tuned to the indispensable vernaculars of love and grief. In these twelve essays is the voice of the both witness and functionary. Lynch stands between 'the living and the living who have died' with the same outrage and amazement, straining for the same glimpse we all get of what mortality means to a vital species. These are essays of rare elegance and grace, full of fierce compassion and rich in humour and humanity - lessons taught to the living by the dead. Thomas Lynch is the author of Grimalkin & Other Poems (1994). His poems and essays have appeared in the London Review of Books and The New Yorker.show more