This meme is hosted by MizB at Should be reading.
These are a few books I found while reviewing my wish list. Do you see a theme here?
The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade; Thomas Lynch
Amazon ---Eloquent, meditative observations on the place of death in small-town life, from the only poet/funeral director in Milford, Mich. Poets like Lynch (Grimalkin and Other Poems) tend to be more respectful about death and the grave than novelists like Evelyn Waugh or journalists like Jessica Mitford. Lynch lives by the old- fashioned undertakers' motto, ``Serving the living by caring for the dead'' (as opposed to more mundanely providing, as one seminar put it, ``What Folks Want in a Casket''). Taking up the family business, Lynch philosophically bears his responsibilities in Milford, which has its statistical share of accidents, suicides, murders, and grieving survivors. His essential respect for the living and the dead notwithstanding, his shop talk perforce has its morbid aspects, such as making ``pre-arrangements'' with future clients, reminding families about uncollected cremation ashes, taking middle-of-the-night calls for collection, or, in a rare filial obligation, embalming his own father. But the author has a sense of the absurd possibilities of his business, even a whimsical scheme to run a combination golf course/burial ground. In one of the livelier essays, he reflects on the competition--both professional and philosophical--fellow Michiganite Dr. Jack Kevorkian, with his no-muss suicide machine, poses to Uncle Eddie's postmortem-clean-up business, Specialized Sanitation Services (``Why leave a mess? Call Triple S!''). In the high point of these dozen essays, he combines his profession and his vocation, delivering the dedicatory poem for the reopening of the restored bridge to Milford's old cemetery--``This bridge connects our daily lives to them,/and makes them, once our neighbors, neighbors once again.'' Already excerpted in Harper's and the London Review of Books, this thoughtful volume is neither too sentimental nor too clinical about death's role (and the author's) in our lives.
Passing On; Penelope Lively
Amazon---Greystones is a moldy, drafty house of no great distinction located in the equally nondescript English town of Spaxton. The domineering and cantankerous Dorothy Glover has finally passed away, leaving her middle-aged progeny, Helen and Edward, to examine their lives, both past and future. It's a subtle plot and one that does well with Lively's ( The Road to Lichfield ) gently assured style. By revealing developments through small details--the discarded dishrags that mark the beginning of a relationship and the glimpse of a watch that signals its end--she delicately delineates the impact of love, scandal and turmoil. On the rare occasion when Lively gives reign to sweeping statements, as when the dramatic Louise comments on motherhood ("At the moments you wish you were shot of the whole thing you know perfectly well that it's precisely because you couldn't endure to be without it, now you know about it, that you've got to go through all this"), her writing doesn't quite ring true. But such instances are rare in this consistently engrossing tale.
A Fine and Private Place; Peter BeagleAmazon ---- Conversing in a mausoleum with the dead, an eccentric recluse is tugged back into the world by a pair of ghostly lovers bearing an extraordinary gift--the final chance for his own happiness. When challenged by a faithless wife and aided by a talking raven, the lives of the living and the dead may be renewed by courage and passion, but only if not belatedly. Told with an elegiac wisdom, this delightful tale of magic and otherworldly love is a timeless work of fantasy imbued with hope and wonder. After multiple printings since 1960, this newest edition will contain the author's recent revisions and will stand as the definitive version of an ageless classic.
Your turn... Find anything good you'd like to share?