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The Dead Beat : Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries - Marilyn Johnson

The Dead Beat

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

By: Marilyn Johnson

eBook | 27 February 2024

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"What a wonderful surprise—a charming, lyrical book about the men and women who write obituaries . . . sly, droll, and completely winning." —David Halberstam, Pulitzer Prize-winning author

Where can readers celebrate the life of the pharmacist who moonlighted as a spy, the genius behind Sea Monkeys, the school lunch lady who spent her evenings as a ballroom hostess? The obituary page, of course. Enthralled by these fascinating former lives, Marilyn Johnson tumbled into the little known world of the obituary page to find out what made it so compelling. She sought out the best obits in the English language, and chased the people who spent their lives writing about the dead. Surveying Internet chat rooms, surviving a mass gathering of obituarists, and making the pilgrimage to London to savor the most caustic and literate obits of all, she leads us into the cult and culture behind this fascinating segment of our daily news.

"A smart, tart and often hilarious tiptoe through the tombstones." —Parade

"This delightful quirk of a book is not dark or morose; it's an uplifting, joyous, life-affirming read for people who ordinarily steer clear of uplifting, joyous, life-affirming reads . . . Of all the personalities captured in The Dead Beat, few are more endearing than Johnson, a former obituary writer. Her enthusiasm is infectious . . . Writers interested in honing the craft should inhale this book. Who else might profit or delight from reading about obituaries? Just about anyone who's not yet in one, I'd wager." —Mary Roach, Los Angeles Times Book Review

Industry Reviews
"A charming, lyrical book about the men and women who write obituaries... sly, droll, and completely winning."
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