2008: 2. The Dead Beat

"People have been slipping out of this world in occupational clusters, I've noticed, for years.  Four journalists passed their deadlines one day, and their obits filled a whole corner of the paper."

The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, & The Perverse Pleasure of Obituaries, Marilyn Johnson (070.4499)

This is my first book for my new Dewey Decimal project!  Lisa is taking hers much, much more seriously than I am (check out that entry on cryptozoology), but I am just having fun reading new types of books, and surfing the library more broadly than is my wont.  This book was pretty fluffy - its a rumination on obituaries, and how the author is an obit freak.  It did make me appreciate the art of obituary more than I had previously, but it was seriously light reading - like, I read it in a few hours, with stopping.  And while I got a kick out of the discussion of the famous obituary euphemisms (i.e. "life of the party" = raging alcoholic), I had two complaints.  One is petty - the book was not shaped like a normal book, but was extra long and skinny.  Perhaps this was meant to replicate the shape of an obit, but it made it annoying to read.  No need to be cute with the shape of our books, authors.  Let your prose speak for you.  Secondly, and much more fatally, this woman was supposed to be an obituary nerd (I mean, to the extent that she sought out foreign papers for their obit columns), and she had never heard of the The Economist obits - or even the magazine itself until she started writing the book.  The obit is the best part of The Economist!  I can't believe that her creepy alt-obit newsgroup never mentioned the awesome oft obscure Economist obits.  Disappointing, Marilyn!

Recommended for: People who are looking for a light, quirky read about an often overlooked part of the paper (and don't mind wonky shaped books)


Date/Place Completed:  1/6/07; D.C.

Categories:  Dewey Decimal, Non-Fiction

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017