This slim volume, 146 pages, follows author Tim Matson as he attempts to stare down his fear of death. Along the way he realizes it's life that is scary and that death is much easier.
We get to tag along as Matson meets up with the "underworld" of death and dying. We start with a trip to the coffin maker, a man who makes custom coffins by hand. This includes his son's coffin after his tragic suicide. The coffin maker called it part of the healing process. We also get to meet the gravedigger, the stone carver, the lawyer, the crusader, the florist, the cremator, and others who deal in death for a living. Each chapter is brief but offers interesting insights.
As we learn, Matson decides death is easy: "The fear of death I was hoping to overcome was part of a larger fear that had crept up on me, a fear of life. It was the weight of fifty years of hard living, booze, divorce, and dreams that would never come true." (page 139)
After all is said and done Matson decides to be cremated and signs up with the cremator he meets along the way. Matson eventually makes the acquaintance of a wood turner who creates an urn to hold Matson's ashes. Matson gets a lesson in wood turning and gets an urn all for "A fifty dollar bill. That's what I charge for a half-day training workshop." (page 144)
Overall this is a quick and fun read despite what could be a depressing topic. This is something we have all no doubt thought about and if you haven't you will. Let's face it we all pass on at some point. We just have to decide what will happen to us after the inevitable. If we don't somebody else will. Just one small issue for me...First is the use of titles only rather than naming names. It just kind of got to me after a short while constantly reading about "the undertaker" or whatever. Not really a big issue I suppose.
Booknotes: The Republic for Which It Stands
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