|The Undertaking: Life Studies From The Dismal Trade, by Thomas Lynch, is an unforgettable collection of essays written by a Michigan undertaker, which became a National Book Award Finalist and won the Heartland Prize for non-fiction and The American Book Award.
Poet (and undertaker) Lynch stands between “the living and the living who have died” with outrage and amazement, awe and calm, straining for the brief glimpse we all get of what mortality means to a vital species.
“Each year, I bury a couple hundred of my townspeople.” So opens the singular testimony of the poet Thomas Lynch. Like all poets, inspired by death, Lynch is, unlike others, also hired to serve the living by caring for the dead in the small Michigan town where he serves as the funeral director.
In this wholly unique collection of essays, the two vocations meet as Lynch shows himself to be a competent functionary of mourning, a reliable witness to life’s mysteries and a poet poignantly tuning language to the right tones of private release. The Nation says that this collection of essays is “life affirming….(and) brims with humanity, irreverence and candor.”
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