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The Removers: A Memoir Hardcover – July 15, 2014

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The Removers: A Memoir + Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner + Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Mr. Meredith knows how to make sentences and how to put them in service of paragraphs that broaden the emotional register of his narrative. The reader is edged, inevitably, up and back between the good laugh and good cry by his artful prose.... debut more worthy than most." (Wall Street Journal)

"Powerful...Meredith writes with plainspoken grace and easy humor... Meredith meditates on failure and family with an honesty so raw it’s almost painful. What makes this memoir ultimately rewarding is its steadfast testimony of Meredith’s progress toward becoming the kind of man he wants to be. " (Boston Globe)

"This book is good. It’s also gruesome, wryly humorous, beautiful and horrible, all at the same time.... So wrapped up was I in this book at that point that I realized I’d been holding my breath. That’s a sure sign of a good read and a good reason to look for this memoir. For anyone who relishes a shadowy coming-of-age story, “The Removers” is one you won’t be able to remove from your hands." (Myrtle Beach Sun News)

"Flawless... With its lyrical language and strong sense of place The Removers is rollicking fun, even when what it's describing is ghastly - and with its East Coast-gothic backdrop, it practically begs to be translated into a film." (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

"A darkly funny memoir about family reckonings." (O Magazine)

"Meredith’s memoir of how his life was affected by his father’s transgression is itself poetic, and he tucks his bittersweet childhood memories between tales of removals as carefully as the death certificates he slips between the bodies he picks up and the stretcher-like contraption that transports each body to the waiting vehicle." (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

"Dark and bleak and funny and utterly Philly... a tour de force" (Philadelphia Magazine)

"This memoir is much more alive than the bodies it describes—rich in language and delicate in its portrayal of a son who suddenly sees his father as imperfect yet irredeemably human." (Library Journal)

"Poignant...bittersweet, but also frequently, improbably hilarious...This book will ring true to anyone who ever yearned to grow up, only to find that coming of age is more painful and beautiful than they ever imagined." (BookPage)

"Potent." (Publishers Weekly)

"A coming-of-age memoir within a morbidly unconventional context." (Kirkus)

“You might be forgiven, at first, if you believe that the book in your hands is about creatures from another planet (We are nobodies. We are men made to be forgotten. We are paid to be invisible.). Prepare yourself—as you wander more deeply into this brightly-lit, finely wrought nightmare, the mirrors start appearing. Sex and death might propel the story forward, but by the end Andrew Meredith peals back the night to reveal what we are made of. The removers are not only among us, they are us. A tour-de-force whispered from the shadows.” (Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City)

“The Removers is for anyone whose adolescence has taken too long, whose hands need useful work, or who wants to put his family grudges away and get on with the rewards of adult life—such as the wicked laughs and the sweet, tender, singing prose of this wonderful book.” (Salvatore Scibona, author of The End)

The Removers is angry and forgiving, sometimes hideous, tough, emotionally compelling, and important. Andrew Meredith comes of age, struggles, and survives in the disintegrating blue-collar environs of Philadelphia. This book can unlock doors. Get your hands on it right away.” (William Kittredge, author of Hole in the Sky)

“Andrew Meredith writes with the eye of a poet and the heart of a man transformed. The Removers brims with moments of unforgettable beauty and raw honesty.” (Michael Hainey, author of After Visiting Friends)

About the Author

Andrew Meredith has been awarded fellowships from Yaddo and from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. He received an MFA in Fiction from UNC-Greensboro. The Removers is his first book.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (July 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476761213
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476761213
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #676,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Ryan J. Dejonghe TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 15, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Come on, I wanted more dead bodies! Yes, I know I'm a sicko, but the description made THE REMOVERS sound fifty percent love-you-dad and fifty percent eww-that's-gross. What I got was about ninety percent hug-fest and ten percent blood-bombs.

The writing is good. For instance, visualize as you read this, "At the rec center baseball diamond across the street, screams of "Go!" follow an aluminum plink. At the corner, tulips in yellow, red, violet, planted to partition the sidewalk from a tiny row house lawn, salute a crew-cut man in a tank top, gold crucifix swinging as he soapy-sponges his four-wheeled stereo." Beautiful painting of Americana, right? Just imagine how these words wrap around decayed dead bodies. Yeah, my thoughts exactly. I wanted more. About dead bodies, this book is not for the squeamish. You'll read as the author describes a three-week-old body that "feels like squeezing a Ziploc bag filled with tomato sauce." Or, of the crematorium, "the smell of burning meat, or worse, boiling rivulets of body fat leaking out the front door of the machine, dripping down into the processing pan and onto the floor, leaving a grotesque cleanup task and an aromatic cocktail of chalk dust, basement mold, and the burnt black drippings in a roast pan." Yummy. There's maybe ten such descriptions in the whole book. That's it.

A majority of the book is kumbaya with the friends, family, and neighbors. That's okay, I like that kind of stuff (even though I wanted a higher percentage of bodies). As you can see, the author is quite talented with words, but what drove me batty was his method of mashing topics together. One paragraph he'd be describing hoeing through body parts in the burner, the very next paragraph he'd continue a story about his father touching young college girls.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sinohey TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 3, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Coming of age angst-laden memoir of a young man tormented by his relationship of an emotionally unavailable father whom he admired and loathed simultaneously. The father was fired from his position as professor of literature at La Salle University, allegedly for inappropriately groping female students. This fractured the family but his estranged parents remained living together, hardly speaking to each other, in the same row house with him and his younger sister for eight more years.

The author holds nothing back, from the turmoil of his family, his first and many sexual dalliances, growing up in the dilapidated Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood of Frankford, dropping out of college at his junior year, drifting from one place to another and his inability to hold on to a job. Jobless, rudderless and with no immediate prospects, Andrew returns back home; where in the meantime his father is now employed as a teacher in Camden and works as a "remover" to supplement his income.

Andrew is hired by his father’s employer, the Livery of Frankford, as a remover; to carry, transport and deliver dead bodies from their place of death to the morgue, mortuary or crematorium - where they are dissected, embalmed or cremated. The author’s descriptive narrative of his experiences as a “remover” and later on, at the crematorium, is at once sombre, grotesque and sometimes humourous. =No spoilers=

Working alongside his father, Andrew’s childhood resentment gradually changes into acceptance of the man’s foibles, and even admiration, “If I’d just met him on the job, he would’ve been my favorite guy to work with”. He has found redemption and absolution in life through the prism of inevitable death.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Marc on July 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I cannot be any more effusive in my praise of Mr. Meredith's work. He lays bare the fears and insecurities of his formative years and reveals himself to be an extremely gifted storyteller. I look forward to great things from Mr Meredith in the future.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Radhika Annadata on July 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I loved the review and could not stop till I finished reading it- a big deal for me as I get bored easily. It is a riveting narrative that draws you in- the vivid descriptions are so real that I could visualize myself standing on the doorstep in the dark watching the buses roll by; I could smell the putrid smell of Carl's body. The jumping back and forth between the present and his thoughts/ his past is engaging; the detailed description of the setting and people mesmerizing and encompassing. Andrew Meredith has a gift with words and I can't wait to finish reading the whole book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Teresa Willett on September 25, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The trouble with corpse takeout is that it isn't deeply satisfying --- and, like Chinese takeout, doesn't stay with you, either. When one reads an extraordinary book (like my favorite coming-of-age memoir, "The Tender Bar"), the reader is likely to feel something akin to grief upon its completion, and an inability to immediately move on to something else. While you will not experience that with Andrew Meredith's book, does it mean that it's not worth reading? I'll leave that up to you. There IS a story here (that probably would have worked best as a lengthy magazine piece) and some top-notch writing, at times. (It can be satisfying to read a talented writer's less than stellar first book, when one expects him to later flourish within another genre.) I can also see this book appealing to other directionless young men who might relate to Meredith's frequent failings and youthful unreadiness to apply himself. (It doesn't matter so much the reason for this foot-dragging --- a father's foolish and embarrassing firing that throws a tomb-like pall over a family for many years, or just a lack of motivation and confidence.) That type of reader is also less likely to find the typical early adulthood sex, drinking, and hanging out parts (though not excessive) as tiresome as I did. Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not comment on the ever-present dreariness --- regarding family, location, and job. With nothing to offset all this funereal somberness, the pages might become heavy for some. (I had no problem picking this book up --- or putting it down, and I enjoyed the "by handling the dead, makes peace with the living" aspect of the story.) All things considered, I am not sorry that I read this, and I look forward to seeing livelier things from Andrew Meredith in the future. (For those of you interested in the "lives" of cadavers, I highly recommend "Stiff" by Mary Roach.)
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