Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade

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9780099767312: Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade

Like all poets, inspired by death, Lynch is, unlike others, also hired to bury the dead or cremate them and to tend to their families in a small Michigan town where he serves as the funeral director. In the conduct of these duties he has kept his eyes open, his ears tuned to the indispensable vernaculars of love and grief. In these twelve essays is the voice of both witness and functionary. Lynch stands between 'the living and the living who have dies' with the same outrage and amazement, straining for the same glimpse we all get of what mortality means to a vital species. So here is homage to parents who have died and to children who shouldn't have. Here are golfers tripping over grave-markers, gourmands and hypochondriacs, lovers and suicides. These are essays of rare elegance and grace, full of fierce compassion and rich in humour and humanity - lessons taught to the living by the dead.

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"...I had come to know that the undertaking that my father did had less to do with what was done to the dead and more to do with what the living did about the fact of life that people died," Thomas Lynch muses in his preface to The Undertaking. The same could be said for Lynch's book: ostensibly about death and its attendant rituals, The Undertaking is in the end about life. In each case, he writes, it is the one that gives meaning to the other. A funeral director in Milford, Michigan, Lynch is that strangest of hyphenates, a poet-undertaker, but according to Lynch, all poets share his occupation, "looking for meaning and voices in life and love and death." Looking for meaning takes him to all sorts of unexpected places, both real and imagined. He embalms the body of his own father, celebrates the rebuilt bridge to his town's old cemetery, takes issue with the Jessica Mitfords of this world, and envisages a "golfatorium," a combination golf course and cemetery that could restore joy to the last rites. In "Crapper," Lynch even contemplates the subtleties of the modern flush toilet and its relationship to the messy business of dying: "Just about the time we were bringing the making of water and the movement of bowels into the house, we were pushing the birthing and marriage and sickness and dying out." Death and fatherhood, death and friendship, death and faith and love and poetry--these are the concerns that power Lynch's undertaking. Throughout, Lynch pleads the case for our dead--who are, after all, still living through us--with an eloquence marked by equal parts whimsy, wit, and compassion. In the last essay, "Tract," he envisions almost wistfully the funeral he'd choose for himself, and then relinquishes that, too. Funerals, after all, are for the living. The dead, he reminds us, don't care. --Mary Park

About the Author:

'Every year I bury a couple hundred of my townspeople.' So opens the singular testimony of the American poet, Thomas Lynch. Like all poets, inspired by death, Lynch is, unlike others, also hired to bury the dead or cremate them to tend to their families in a small Michigan town where he serves as the funeral director. In the conduct of these duties he has kept his eyes open, his ears tuned to the indispensable vernaculars of love and grief. In these twelve essays is the voice of the both witness and functionary. Lynch stands between 'the living and the living who have died' with the same outrage and amazement, straining for the same glimpse we all get of what mortality means to a vital species. These are essays of rare elegance and grace, full of fierce compassion and rich in humour and humanity - lessons taught to the living by the dead. Thomas Lynch is the author of Grimalkin & Other Poems (1994). His poems and essays have appeared in the London Review of Books and The New Yorker.

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Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Like all poets, inspired by death, Lynch is, unlike others, also hired to bury the dead or cremate them and to tend to their families in a small Michigan town where he serves as the funeral director. In the conduct of these duties he has kept his eyes open, his ears tuned to the indispensable vernaculars of love and grief. In these twelve essays is the voice of both witness and functionary. Lynch stands between the living and the living who have dies with the same outrage and amazement, straining for the same glimpse we all get of what mortality means to a vital species. So here is homage to parents who have died and to children who shouldn t have. Here are golfers tripping over grave-markers, gourmands and hypochondriacs, lovers and suicides. These are essays of rare elegance and grace, full of fierce compassion and rich in humour and humanity - lessons taught to the living by the dead. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099767312

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Book Description Vintage Publishing. Paperback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade, Thomas Lynch, Like all poets, inspired by death, Lynch is, unlike others, also hired to bury the dead or cremate them and to tend to their families in a small Michigan town where he serves as the funeral director. In the conduct of these duties he has kept his eyes open, his ears tuned to the indispensable vernaculars of love and grief. In these twelve essays is the voice of both witness and functionary. Lynch stands between 'the living and the living who have dies' with the same outrage and amazement, straining for the same glimpse we all get of what mortality means to a vital species. So here is homage to parents who have died and to children who shouldn't have. Here are golfers tripping over grave-markers, gourmands and hypochondriacs, lovers and suicides. These are essays of rare elegance and grace, full of fierce compassion and rich in humour and humanity - lessons taught to the living by the dead. Bookseller Inventory # B9780099767312

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Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Like all poets, inspired by death, Lynch is, unlike others, also hired to bury the dead or cremate them and to tend to their families in a small Michigan town where he serves as the funeral director. In the conduct of these duties he has kept his eyes open, his ears tuned to the indispensable vernaculars of love and grief. In these twelve essays is the voice of both witness and functionary. Lynch stands between the living and the living who have dies with the same outrage and amazement, straining for the same glimpse we all get of what mortality means to a vital species. So here is homage to parents who have died and to children who shouldn t have. Here are golfers tripping over grave-markers, gourmands and hypochondriacs, lovers and suicides. These are essays of rare elegance and grace, full of fierce compassion and rich in humour and humanity - lessons taught to the living by the dead. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099767312

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Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: New. Not Signed; Like all poets, inspired by death, Lynch is, unlike others, also hired to bury the dead or cremate them and to tend to their families in a small Michigan town where he serves as the funeral director. In the conduct of these duties he has kept his eyes open, his ears tuned to the indispensable vernac. book. Bookseller Inventory # ria9780099767312_rkm

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Book Description Vintage. Book Condition: New. 1998. Paperback. The American poet, Thomas Lynch, is also a funeral director in a small Michigan town, and this is his testimony. It comprises 12 essays - each a lesson taught to the living by the dead. Num Pages: 256 pages, map. BIC Classification: 2AB; BG; DNF; JHBZ. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 198 x 134 x 16. Weight in Grams: 182. . . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780099767312

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Book Description Vintage, 1998. Book Condition: New. 1998. Paperback. The American poet, Thomas Lynch, is also a funeral director in a small Michigan town, and this is his testimony. It comprises 12 essays - each a lesson taught to the living by the dead. Num Pages: 256 pages, map. BIC Classification: 2AB; BG; DNF; JHBZ. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 198 x 134 x 16. Weight in Grams: 182. . . . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780099767312

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