The Undertaking: Life Studies From The Dismal Trade by Thomas LynchThe Undertaking: Life Studies From The Dismal Trade by Thomas Lynch

The Undertaking: Life Studies From The Dismal Trade

byThomas Lynch

Paperback | June 2, 2009

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"Every year I bury a couple hundred of my townspeople." So opens this singular and wise testimony. Like all poets, inspired by death, Thomas Lynch is, unlike others, also hired to bury the dead or to 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 ear tuned to the indispensable vernaculars of love and grief. In these twelve pieces his is the voice of both witness and functionary. Here, Lynch, poet to the dying, names the hurts and whispers the condolences and shapes the questions posed by this familiar mystery. 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 the lessons for life our mortality teaches us.

Thomas Lynch's essays, poems and stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Granta, The New York Times, the New Yorker, the Paris Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Milford, Michigan where he has been the funeral director since 1974, and in Moveen, Co. Clare, Ireland where he keeps an ancestral cottage.
Title:The Undertaking: Life Studies From The Dismal TradeFormat:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 7.73 × 5 × 0.61 inPublished:June 2, 2009Publisher:WW NortonLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0393334872

ISBN - 13:9780393334876


Rated 2 out of 5 by from Lots of potential, unrealized Given the accolades it has received, I was disappointed by this book. It's a series of essays, not a linear story. Nothing wrong with that, but I just wasn't particularly keen on any one of them. Nothing piqued my interest. Thomas Lynch is, in addition to a funeral director is also a published poet, and I found some of the writing here to be too flowery- to the point of being contrived. I've also read Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers, which I would suggest over this.
Date published: 2018-01-11

Editorial Reviews

A startling and eloquent meditation on death and bereavement…If you think this book isn't about you, or for you, think again. — SpinA memoir that is stand-out superb. — EsquireMr. Lynch emerges as a cross between Garrison Keillor and one of the Irish poets; one thinks of William Butler Yeats…Forceful, authentic, and full of a kind of ethical and aesthetic clarity. — Richard Bernstein (New York Times)[Lynch] is able to take us inside the palpable business of blood, tears, and the final verse of life in a manner that is almost shocking in the relief it delivers…[A] fine, sensible, and wise book. — Boston GlobeLynch’s vivid prose has the electricity of writing that tells us what is going on in the secret places of the community—and the secret places of the heart. — USA Today