What is death and how does it touch upon life? Twenty writers look for answers.
Birth is not inevitable. Life certainly isn't. The sole inevitability of existence, the only sure consequence of being alive, is death. In these eloquent and surprising essays, twenty writers face this fact, among them Geoff Dyer, who describes the ghost bikes memorializing those who die in biking accidents; Jonathan Safran Foer, proposing a new way of punctuating dialogue in the face of a family history of heart attacks and decimation by the Holocaust; Mark Doty, whose reflections on the art-porn movie Bijou lead to a meditation on the intersection of sex and death epitomized by the AIDS epidemic; and Joyce Carol Oates, who writes about the loss of her husband and faces her own mortality. Other contributors include Annie Dillard, Diane Ackerman, Peter Straub, and Brenda Hillman.
Editors David Shields and Bradford Morrow have put together a heavy but thoroughly interesting collection of essays in The Inevitable: Contemporary Writers Confront Death. I was genuinely surprised by the uniqueness of the authors' experiences of death; it is encountered in an array of different ways, is interpreted differently, and means different things to people of varying cultures. That element - that intriguing difference - is what I found most compelling about this collection. Death is the one and only thing that all living beings have in common, and yet it is so personal. The level of thinking and, moreover, the level of writing in this collection is excellent...
(Reviewed by Elena Spagnolie).
Full Review (555 words).
Editors David Shields and Bradford Morrow selected an exquisite group of authors for their collection of essays entitled The Inevitable: Contemporary Writers Confront Death, and the unique assortment certainly accounts for the diversity of the essays themselves. Below is a list of the contributing authors with links to bios, interviews and photos:
Jonathan Safran Foer
Joyce Carol Oates
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