An Oral History
by Casey Jarman
In this illuminating collection of oral-history style interviews, Casey Jarman talks to a funeral industry watchdog about the (often shady) history of the death trade; he hears how songwriter David Bazan lost his faith while trying to hold on to his family; he learns about cartoonist Art Spiegelman using his college LSD trips to explain death to his children; and he gets to know his own grandparents, posthumously. These are stories of loss, rebuilding, wonder, and wild speculation featuring everyone from philosophers to former death row wardens and hospice volunteers. In these moving, enlightening, and often funny conversations, the end is only the beginning.
“[A] profound collection of essays . . . These people, many of whom walk with death gracefully every day, make the concept a little less frightening—and deeply human.” –Publishers Weekly
“[O]ne of the most fun, surprising, and inventive essay books readers might find on any subject. . . Part memoir, with the flow and appeal similar to that of an episode of NPR’s This American Life, this revelation of a book is chock-full of vignettes that dig deep into the psyche of the Grim Reaper and how we deal with him. “—Booklist
“Casey Jarman, one of my favorite Northwest journalists, is becoming the Studs Terkel of his generation.”—Willy Vlautin, author of Lean on Pete
“Jarman’s literary debut is a testament to the value of doggedly pursuing a goal that has never and can never be realized. We can’t beat death, but maybe we can beat fear of it. . . .[A]mbitious in scope and often devastating in content” –The Guardian
“[T]here are some powerful stories here and some informative takes on our approaches and attitudes toward death.”–The Oregonian
About the author
Casey Jarman has served as the music editor at the Pulitzer Prize-winning weekly Willamette Week in Portland, Oregon, and managing editor of the Believer in San Francisco. He co-founded Party Damage Records
in 2013. He has written for the Believer, Nylon, Portland Monthly, Willamette Week, Next American City, and Reed Magazine, as well as various online publications. He is currently a contributing editor at the Believer. He lives in Portland with his wife and two cats.