The Dead Beat

Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries

By Marilyn Johnson
(Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780060758769, 252pp.)

Publication Date: February 2007

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Marilyn Johnson was enthralled by the remarkable lives that were marching out of this world—so she sought out the best obits in the English language and the people who spent their lives writing about the dead. She surveyed the darkest corners of Internet chat rooms, and made a pilgrimage to London to savor the most caustic and literate obits of all. Now she leads us on a compelling journey into the cult and culture behind the obituary page and the unusual lives we don't quite appreciate until they're gone.

About the Author
Marilyn Johnson is the author of Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble (Harper, 2014), and two other works of non-fiction, The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries (Harper Perennial, 2007) and This Book Is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All (Harper Perennial, 2011). The Dead Beat, a bestseller, was chosen as a Border's Original Voice and was a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award, and both The Dead Beat and This Book Is Overdue! received Washington Irving Book Awards. Lives in Ruins is a Libraryread's best book for November 2014, and one of Publishers Weekly's 100 Best Books of 2014. Johnson, a former editor and writer for Life, Esquire, and Outside magazines, lives with her husband, Rob Fleder, in New York's Hudson Valley.

Praise For The Dead Beat

“A charming, lyrical book about the men and women who write obituaries… sly, droll, and completely winning.”
-David Halberstam

“[Marilyn Johnson]’s written a warm, funny, appreciative book that, ironically enough, should live forever. But get it now.”
-Roy Blount, Jr., author of Feet On The Street: Rambles Around New Orleans

“A joyful book about obituaries? Absolutely! Marilyn Johnson pulls it off with death-defying grace, insight, charm, and wit.”
-Lee Eisenberg, author of The Number: A Completely Different Way to Think About the Rest of Your Life

“A beautifully written, funny, and fascinating tour through the unexpectedly lively world of obituaries.”
-Lisa Grunwald, author of Women’s Letters: America from the Revolutionary War to the Present

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