A funeral director and writer reflects on his life and profession.
“So I’m over at the Hortons’ with my stretcher and minivan and my able apprentice…because they found old George, the cemetery sexton, dead in his bed.” This is vintage Lynch (Whence and Whither: On Lives and Living, 2019, etc.). A published poet of “internationally unheard of poems,” the author is witty and wise, wry and humorous. If he gets a tad mawkish at times, so be it. He’s been the only mortician in a small Michigan town for more than four decades, and he respects his profession and the people he buries and their kin. It’s an honorable trade, and he’s been writing engagingly about it for years. This collection contains 18 pieces from a few of his books as well as a handful of new essays. Lynch writes about embalming, cremating, and burying the old, young children, babies, a beloved cousin in Ireland, his father, two dogs, and the remains of a friend, which he scattered in a Scottish river. The author saw his first dead body with his undertaker father when he was a young boy. In his foreword, Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball writes that reading Lynch is “to suddenly be able to see what it’s like to be comfortable with mortality. To respect it but not fear it. To see both the absurdity and beauty of death, sometimes simultaneously.” In addition to chronicling his tasks as an undertaker, Lynch writes about his fluctuating faith, family, two wives, and friends in Ireland, where he often goes to live in an inherited cottage in West Clare. He shares his kooky business plan for a Golfatorium and his general disdain for Jessica Mitford’s “muckraking” The American Way of Death. In one of his poems, he writes, “Like politics, all funerals are local.”
Thoughtfully crafted musings about life and death.