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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."


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Aug. 23rd, 2005 12:53 pm (UTC)
I'll be interested to hear what you think. The title is unwieldy--and I know I read in a different context from you--being um, a good portion Irish, Catholic, American and from Lynch's home state. I agree that the Undertaking was stronger than Bodies, but I still love the opening of Bodies--the poetry of the "vaporizer" and the "vaporetto" still gives me so much pleasure and I've read it ten times.

He talks a lot about Nora Lynch, and being Catholic and yes, there's a mention or two of Yeats. :-) I'm not done with it yet--I'm reading them one at a time, interspersed with other things I read--sort of dragging it out because God only knows when he will publish next.
Aug. 23rd, 2005 01:40 pm (UTC)
lynch's catholicism doesn't bother me. i've moved beyond a point in my life where i won't read someone just because they have a different believe than me. in the case of lynch it doesn't make a whit of difference, as he's never preachy with it.

but anyhow, reckon i'll order it up soon. got some money coming my way and i'm even doing some extra work at uni, so, books acoming.
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