Death: An Oral History

Casey Jarman. Pulp, $22.99 (355p) ISBN 978-1-942186-12-0
Jarman, a contributing editor at the Believer, confronts his own mortal dread with this profound collection of essays, based on oral history–style interviews with experts on death such as Maus cartoonist Art Spiegelman, a funeral-focused consumer advocate, and a hospice worker. A childhood friend of Jarman’s recounts his grief after his twin brother shot himself when the boys were in seventh grade, and his feelings of being left behind. A philosophy professor at Oregon State University outlines the curriculum for his “Death and Dying” course. A certified professional in life celebrations discusses the human need for ritual. Proving that even death has a mundane side, a reporter for the trade magazine Mortuary Management breaks down her process of writing copy for funeral home websites. In the most devastating chapter, Jarman interviews a close friend dealing with the recent and sudden death of her mother. Her shock and pain are visceral on the page, and she provides practical advice on how to support a grieving friend. Through Jarman’s discerning curation, interesting thought patterns emerge. Even those dealing with death professionally discuss it with remarkable candor and intimacy. These people, many of whom walk with death gracefully every day, make the concept a little less frightening—and deeply human. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/2016
Release date: 10/25/2016
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-942186-18-2
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