As in his previous collection, The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade, Lynch muses on contemporary American life with an appealing mix of light and dark. The effect can be striking, especially in his essays on the death of a crafty old gravedigger; the alcoholism he inherited from his father and, devastatingly, watches develop in his son; his divorce and the wicked poem he later writes about his ex-wife. His prose is always lively, though in several essays he relies on the same cultural touchstones--Bill Gates, the Internet, his Catholic-school upbringing and the "wonderful breasts" of the nuns, and (oddly) the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song "Love the One You're With." More unfortunately, he can lapse into familiar generalizations of the "we boomers" or "as an Irish Catholic" variety. Then again, funeral directors must keep an eye on the habits and statistics of generations and groups (as Lynch puts it, "our favorite parlor game is Demographics and Expectancies"), so perhaps a few familiar generalities are excusable--an occupational hazard of the poet-essayist-mortician. In Lynch's case (and there probably isn't another), they seem a fair exchange for his entertaining and often surprisingly humble wisdom. --John Ponyicsanyi --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
[W]hat makes him such a fine essayist is that it's just the business of everyday life and death to him. -- Los Angeles Times Book Review