The Undertaking

undertaking 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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Please choose this book because it is the most original of the three suggested titles.

The book "Life is Good" is, no doubt, excellent but this sort of narrative abounds and can be found throughout the Oprah book club selections, for example. Let's not imitate Oprah, let's see what a poet and undertaker (what a combination: stereotypes of undertakers portray them as such dour people who barely figure in society except for advising on coffin types and shuffling away our dead. Have we ever asked them what they may have to say about life, humanity and what death might mean?) might have to tell us.

"The Undertaking" has the most universal appeal and applicability.

I vote for this book for the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads. I haven't read it yet, but this is the one I'm most likely to read with the group.
- Michigan author.
- Great topic.
- Essay format.
- Written by a poet.
- Sounds not only insightful, but fun.

I vote for this one. Read the opening hunk a while ago, want to read the rest. Guess I'll get in line to borrow it!