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August 23rd, 2005

Thomas Lynch's Booking Passage

Every so often the brother calls, ranting about having to get on a plane, fly over Shannon, drive out to West Clare, and cut a finger off.
I blame myself for this.
"Not the finger again, Pat," is what I say.


That is the opening to Thomas Lynch's new book, Booking Passage: We Irish and Americans. It's an unfortunate title for any book, much less a memoir about an Irish family and funeral director. But it's Lynch, and even though the title is awful, and I have, through television and film and literature, gone way beyond my limit for books about Irish families of any kind, I will be buying this book. My admiration for Lynch's the Undertaking is of such a level that I cannot recommend it enough. I'll tell anyone to read it, though I can understand why some people might think that a collection of essays about the death trade and subsequent culture written by a Catholic funeral director might not be for everyone; but Lynch is a rare author, able to transcend the didactic qualities that a lesser writer with both those backgrounds would give into. His follow up collection, Bodies In Motion And At Rest, was more spiritual and felt like a collection he had written (or at least fleshed out to be a collection) to build on the success of the Undertaking, so I'm glad to see that he hasn't tried for a third. Perhaps there will be one, eventually, but I'm glad to see him heading in different directions.

And, title aside, you have to admit that it's a neat opening. "Not the finger again, Pat."