The Whole Death Catalog
A Lively Guide to the Bitter End
By Harold Schechter
(Ballantine Books, Paperback, 9780345499646, 320pp.)
Publication Date: June 2, 2009
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In the tradition of Mary Roach’s bestselling Stiff and Jessica Mitford’s classic exposé The American Way of Death comes this meticulously researched, refreshingly irreverent, and lavishly illustrated look at death from acclaimed author Harold Schechter. With his trademark fearlessness and bracing sense of humor, Schechter digs deep into a wealth of sources to unearth a treasure trove of surprising facts, amusing anecdotes, practical information, and timeless wisdom about that undiscovered country to which we will all one day travel. Topics include
• Death anxiety–is your fear of death normal or off the scale?
• You can’t take it with you . . . or can you? Wacky wills and bizarre bequests
• The hospice experience–going out in comfort and style
• Deathbed and funeral etiquette–how to help the dying and mourn the dead with dignity
• Death on demand–why the right-to-die movement may be the next big thing
• “Good-bye everybody”–famous last words
• The embalmer’s art–all dressed up and nowhere to go
• Behind the scenes at your local funeral home
• Alternative burial choices–from coral reefs to outer space
From the cold, hard facts of death to lessons in the art of dying well, from what happens in the body’s last living moments to what transpires in the ground or in the furnace, from near-death experiences to speculation on the afterlife, The Whole Death Catalog leaves no gravestone unturned.
Harold Schechter is a professor of American literature and culture at Queens College, the City University of New York. He is widely celebrated for both fiction and true-crime writing, including The Devil's Gentleman and The Serial Killer Files. He lives in Brooklyn and Mattituck, Long Island, with his wife, the poet Kimiko Hahn.