The time that must have gone into sculpting this text is staggering and belies its size. It seems to have been lovingly groomed; fawned over even.
The mundane aspects of dealing with funeral parlor folks (or the groundskeeper at least) and the numbness one feels during intense grief is wonderfully conveyed in this book. I’ve never seen but for some reason it often came to mind while reading this book. Some good friends of mine swear by it.
My wife makes this sinfully good, French death-by-dark-chocolate cake. It’s all butter and egg, moist and murder on the arteries. Whenever she makes it I can’t tell if she’s trying to bump me off or tell me she loves me. The heart-shaped cake mold ought to be a clue but I have my doubts sometimes. Anyhow, I’d pair this book up with a slice of that cake and a double espresso.
You’d do well to avail yourself of Ms. Donato’s texts and contexts in the end matter. Aside from providing a glimpse into the glorious gloomy headspace that helped birth this book it should keep you busy for the next few years or so.
This is both a tale of grief on a personal level; individualized, as well as grief on an institutional level. The interplay between these two, the interior landscape of the main character, and the sometimes abrupt interruptions brought on by the mechanics of burying a loved one, are well-woven here.
Here in Poland the dead are not forgotten. On the first of November people make the sometimes long trek back to cemeteries where their loved ones lie. They wash the graves and light candles. At first I found this morbid, but over the years have come to appreciate the devotion involved as well as the stunning beauty of the cemeteries. I feel this book is in league with this tradition.
A flower, a perfect circle represents the dead. (pg. 14)
‘Life is the body of death.’ (Chew on that for a while.)
A sudden death. A frozen death. A random forgotten death. A china, glass, or hard cash death. A death that demands grief, demands little grief. And as one reviews the will, it will appear there is so much upon which the deceased rests. ‘O’, the mind exhales. ‘What a terrible mess.’ (pg 72)