cover image The Depositions: New and Selected Essays on Being and Ceasing to Be

The Depositions: New and Selected Essays on Being and Ceasing to Be

Thomas Lynch. Norton, $27.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-324-00397-7

This meditative, often emotionally affecting collection from funeral director, poet, and essayist Lynch (Whence and Whither) explores, with personal honesty and philosophical curiosity, the intersection of faith, death, family, and vocation. It features selections from Lynch’s four previous collections, along with five new pieces. It begins with “The Undertaking,” an introduction to his trade that is moving and humorous in turns—the latter, particularly, as Lynch considers people’s frequent discomfort with his profession, noting, “I am no more attracted to the dead than the dentist is to your bad gums.” Despite this flippant remark, Lynch explores his work as a spiritual one. In “How We Come to Be the Ones We Are,” he recalls how learning Catholicism’s language and rituals in childhood informed his work. In “Y2Kat,” one of the standout pieces, Lynch views his first marriage’s collapse through the metaphor of the ancient, seemingly immortal family cat that hates him, again expertly straddling the line between comedy and tragedy. In the new essays, Lynch contemplates the potential collapse of his second marriage and the challenge of maintaining sobriety during dark days, among other topics. Providing an excellent entry point for newcomers to Lynch’s work, this assemblage is an erudite but unpretentious discussion of life and mortality by a master craftsman of language. (Dec.)