Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Tethered

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Tethered

A Novel

by Amy Mackinnon

Tethered by Amy Mackinnon
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2008, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2009, 272 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book

Print Review

Post-Life Environmentalism
Clara has such a detached attitude toward the more clinical aspects of her job as undertaker – removing organs, sewing the mouth shut, applying makeup – that her description of these tasks seems no different than a fishmonger discussing the gutting and filleting of salmon. And MacKinnon includes enough subtle hints as to the danger and toxicity of the chemicals used in cadaver preparation that one might pause before considering disposition of one's – or a loved one's -- earthly remains. Additionally, there is the casket to think about and the fact that there may be more bodies to bury in Clara's community cemetery than that plot of hallowed ground can hold. It all leads one to ask, is this really the best and most environmentally conscientious way to handle post-life leavings?

In his book (published in paperback in December 2008) Grave Matters: A Journey through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial Mark Harris follows the final resting place decisions of a number of people who opted for a variety of alternative means of dispatching their mortal vestiges. Harris, who is I believe the son of an undertaker, is an environmental journalist who advocates for green burial.

First, let me caution that his chapters on traditional embalming and burial are not for the faint of heart. They contain candidly graphic descriptions of the procedures from beginning to steamy end, including the process of organic decomposition and the leaching of toxic embalming chemicals into the soil. Once past that, however, there follow a number of interesting and environmentally sensitive choices, some are pricey but many are cost-effective.

Cremation may be the most obvious and popular choice. However, Harris points out that the smoke is a pollutant too. So another option might be, say, a backyard burial. In several states, it turns out, there is no law preventing burying a person's remains in one's own backyard. No casket is required and only permission from the state, city or county is necessary. Of course, it would be prudent to warn a real estate agent before selling one's home that granny has been laid to rest under the sugar maple. Some other, more creative, means of cadaver disposition he discusses include burial at sea, inclusion in a coral reef (my favorite) and "natural burial," in a shroud placed in a pre-dedicated state or privately-owned park. All options that Harris describes include a list of costs, laws to be aware of and resources.

Of course, one can always donate one's body, or parts thereof, to science. Which, sad to say, brings its own set of caveats. Accordingly, one might wish to read Annie Cheney's Body Brokers: Inside America's Underground Trade in Human Remains before making that decision.

Article by Donna Chavez

This article was originally published in August 2008, and has been updated for the August 2009 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access become a member today.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    My Name Is Leon
    by Kit De Waal
    Kit de Waal's striking debut, My Name is Leon, has inspired this big, long, complicated question: ...
  • Book Jacket: New People
    New People
    by Danzy Senna
    Danzy Senna has spent virtually her entire writing career exploring the complicated intersections of...
  • Book Jacket: Hunger
    Hunger
    by Roxane Gay
    In this penetrating and fearless memoir, author Roxane Gay discusses her battle with body acceptance...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Little Nothing by Marisa Silver

A stunning, provocative new novel from New York Times bestselling author Marisa Silver

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Heart's Invisible Furies
    by John Boyne

    A sweeping, heartfelt saga set in Ireland from the author of The Boy In the Striped Pajamas.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Resurrection of Joan Ashby

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas

Epic, propulsive, incredibly ambitious, and dazzlingly written--a story about sacrifice and motherhood.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I's A D Before D

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.