Saturday, May 21, 2011

Obits & Tidbits

Grief, like Guilt, rushes in and talks apace.
~Stevie Smith

I am a big fan of shows like Six Feet Under & Bones. I like the macabre art of Edward Gorey.  I like to read obituaries. Someday I would like to visit Philadelphia's Mütter Museum, the museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, where exhibits include "the Chevalier Jackson Collection of Foreign Bodies Removed from the Food & Air Passages". I am drawn to the disturbing art of Francis Bacon.

I know I can't be the only one exhibiting this kind of  morbid curiosity.   After all, there are 13 books in the catalog with the subject Obituaries - Authorship - Fiction;  25 books under the heading Funeral Rites and Ceremonies - Fiction; & 19 titles with the subject Undertakers and Undertaking - Fiction.  & those are just the fiction offerings! Most of the non-fiction lean towards genealogy-related tomes (favorite title: Diggin' Up Bones: Obituaries of Deerfield, Fairview, and Miscellaneous Kearny County Cemeteries, Kearny County, Kansas by Betty Barnes) but there are several other tomes you might want to consider, if you are so morbidly included

Here's a list of some of my favorites from the library catalog:


Stairway to Heaven: The Final Resting Places of Rock's Legends  by J. D. Reed

Laid to Rest in California: A Guide to the Cemeteries and Grave Sites of the Rich and Famous by Patricia Brooks and Jonathan Brooks


The Economist Book of Obituaries compiled by Keith Colquhoun and Ann Wroe

The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries by Marilyn Johnson

The Last Word: The New York Times Book of Obituaries and Farewells: A Celebration of Unusual Lives edited by Marvin Siegel

Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers by Alana Baranick


Remember Me when I'm Gone compiled by Larry King

The Book of Eulogies: A Collection of Memorial Tributes, Poetry, Essays, and Letters of Condolence edited by Phyllis Theroux

A Wonderful Life: 50 Eulogies to Lift the Spirit edited by Cyrus M. Copeland

Farewell, Godspeed: The Greatest Eulogies of Our Times edited by Cyrus Copeland


The American Way of Death Revisited by Jessica Mitford

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Grave Matters: A Journey through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial by Mark Harris

R.I.P.: The Complete Book of Death and Dying by Constance Jones

Remember Me: A Lively Tour of the New American Way of Death by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen

Death and Dying in New Mexico by Martina Will de Chaparro

Please also consider a visit to Fabulous Dead People, a column in the New York Times Style Magazine.

I would also like to include a few books that are less about death as a phenomenon & more focused towards providing comfort after a bereavement, especially The Art of Losing, which helped me through a recent period of grief. 

Always Too Soon: Voices of Support for Those who Have Lost Both Parents edited by Allison Gilbert with Christina Baker Kline

The Art of Losing : Poems of Grief and Healing edited by Kevin Young

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

The Other Side of Sadness: What the New Science of Bereavement Tells us about Life after Loss by George A. Bonanno

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