In the Land of Long Fingernails: A Gravedigger's Memoir

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In the Land of Long Fingernails: A Gravedigger's Memoir

by Charles Wilkins, Charles Wilkins

GREYSTONE BOOKS LTD | March 21, 2011 | Trade Paperback |

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A darkly humourous memoir of a 1960s summer spent in a cemetery.

First published in hardcover in 2008, In the Land of Long Fingernails was shortlisted for the Trillium Book Prize, the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour, and the Toronto Book Awards.

During the hazy summer of 1969, Charles Wilkins, then a university student, took a job as a gravedigger in a vast corporate cemetery in the east end of Toronto. The bizarre but true events of that time-a midsummer gravediggers'' strike, the unearthing of a victim of an unsolved murder, and a little illegal bone shifting-play out among a Barnum-esque parade of mavericks and misfits in this macabre and hilarious memoir.

Amid relentless gallows humour and the inevitable reminders of what it is, finally, to be human, Wilkins provides an unforgettable insider''s view of a morbidly fascinating industry. In the Land of Long Fingernails is a story of mortality, materialism, friendship, and sexuality, and the gradual coming of age of an impressionable young man.

A darkly humourous memoir of a 1960s summer spent in a cemetery.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 240 Pages, 5.51 × 8.66 × 0.39 in

Published: March 21, 2011

Publisher: GREYSTONE BOOKS LTD

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1553658434

ISBN - 13: 9781553658436

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In the Land of Long Fingernails: A Gravedigger's Memoir

In the Land of Long Fingernails: A Gravedigger's Memoir

by Charles Wilkins, Charles Wilkins

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 240 Pages, 5.51 × 8.66 × 0.39 in

Published: March 21, 2011

Publisher: GREYSTONE BOOKS LTD

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1553658434

ISBN - 13: 9781553658436

About the Book

Charles Wilkins, then a university student, took a job as a gravedigger in a vast corporate cemetery in the east end of Toronto during the hazy summer of 1969. The bizarre-but-true events of that time-a midsummer gravediggers' strike, the unearthing of a victim of an unsolved murder, and a little illegal bone-shifting-play out among a Barnum-esque parade of mavericks and misfits in this macabre and hilarious memoir.
Amid relentless gallows humor and the inevitable reminders of what it is, finally, to be human, Wilkins provides an unforgettable insider's view of a morbidly fascinating industry. "In the Land of Long Fingernails" is a story of mortality, materialism, friendship and sexuality... and the gradual coming-of-age of an impressionable young man.

Read from the Book

The next morning, in heavy rain, my car refused to start. I took the bus to the cemetery, arrived late, and was put to work in the maintenance shop, applying gold-coloured lacquer to an elaborate concrete outer vault that was to be used the following day. On it, I was to apply neat lines of letters forming the dead person''s name and a Biblical reference, Psalm 46:10. At break, Peter informed me that the funeral was going to be a corker - a seventeen-year-old girl had died of bone cancer. He had been told to expect four school buses of teenagers. I blew a reefer under the eaves of the chapel, out of the rain, and feeling as remote as a star went back into the shop to apply a second coat of paint. Hogjaw came in, as stoned as I, and for a moment, on a whim, I jumped into the box and struck a surfing pose, and jumped out. "Lie down in it," he said, and I stepped back in and lay down. "You look good," he said. "I''m alive," I said. "It doesn''t count." "You''re stoned is what you are." "You get in," I said as I got out, and he stepped in and lay down and shut his eyes. Scotty had told me that from the age of forty the actress Sarah Bernhardt had slept in the coffin in which she would eventually be buried. He had read it in Midnight. I mentioned it to Hogjaw, who said he thought people could do "a helluva lot more in coffins" than they do. I asked him "Like what?" and he said. "All they do now is rot and go to hell." He opened his eyes and asked if I believed there was an afterli
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Table of Contents

Author''s Note Part I 1 A Half-Assed Shot at Redemption 2 The Luxuriating Harmony of the Peaceable Kingdom 3 The Unassailable Code of Cemetery Conduct 4 A Young Man of Spiritual Inclinations 5 The Practice of Inefficiency 6 The Profitable Phase of Death 7 Death''s Little Acre 8 No Time to Croak 9 The Pace of Microbes and Worms 10 A Loner and a Rose Gardener 11 The Remains of the Day 12 The Business of Being Alive 13 The Imperfect Possibilities of the Venal New World 14 The Land of Low Expectations 15 No More Bullshit Part II 16 The Most Liberated Locality on Earth 17 As Deeply Adrift as Ever 18 Housekeeping and Human Disposition 19 A Wide and Shapely Stage Acknowledgments

From the Publisher

A darkly humourous memoir of a 1960s summer spent in a cemetery.

First published in hardcover in 2008, In the Land of Long Fingernails was shortlisted for the Trillium Book Prize, the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour, and the Toronto Book Awards.

During the hazy summer of 1969, Charles Wilkins, then a university student, took a job as a gravedigger in a vast corporate cemetery in the east end of Toronto. The bizarre but true events of that time-a midsummer gravediggers'' strike, the unearthing of a victim of an unsolved murder, and a little illegal bone shifting-play out among a Barnum-esque parade of mavericks and misfits in this macabre and hilarious memoir.

Amid relentless gallows humour and the inevitable reminders of what it is, finally, to be human, Wilkins provides an unforgettable insider''s view of a morbidly fascinating industry. In the Land of Long Fingernails is a story of mortality, materialism, friendship, and sexuality, and the gradual coming of age of an impressionable young man.

A darkly humourous memoir of a 1960s summer spent in a cemetery.

About the Author

Charles Wilkins wrestled Don Starkell's mountainous diary into the classic work of adventure travel Paddle to the Amazon, praised by The New York Times Book Review as ""a model expeditionary journal."" The winner of three National Magazine Awards, two American Magazine Association awards and The Gregory Clark Outdoor Writing Award, he has also been a finalist for the Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize, the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, the Trillium Book Prize and the Toronto Book Award. His acclaimed non-fiction includes The Circus at the Edge of the Earth and Walk to New York, and he is the co-author with Gordie Howe of the bestseller After the Applause. He divides his time between Thunder Bay and Muskoka, Ontario.
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