cover image The Farewell Chronicles: On How We Really Respond to Death

The Farewell Chronicles: On How We Really Respond to Death

Anneli Rufus, . . Marlowe, $14.95 (267pp) ISBN 978-1-56924-381-7

After telling the disturbing story of a girl who was made a laughingstock by her dorm mates, then, one day, dropped dead in the library, Rufus writes: "When you torment others while they are alive, the last thing you imagine is that they might die before you can ask them for forgiveness." The girls who had teased her most cried the loudest over her demise, Rufus relates. Our feelings when someone dies, Rufus says, are not always pretty and don't always seem appropriate to others: apathy, guilt, greed, disgust, relief and foreboding. Rufus, a journalist (Party of One: The Loner's Manifesto ), recounts numerous examples from her own life and the lives of others in order to explore these complex reactions to death: her apathy as a child when her emotionally remote grandmother died ("There goes our vacation," she thought); a friend's desire to get the best of her mother's possessions before her mother underwent a hysterectomy. This isn't a self-help book, but many readers will respond to, and identify with, Rufus's frank, sometimes startling, sometimes acerbic narratives. (Aug.)