The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries

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Click for availability and more information The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries, by Marilyn Johnson

The subject is death, the content is lively. In Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries, Marilyn Johnson explores the state of the art of obituary writing, detailing its maturation from stuffier times to today's often expansive print presentations and the internet's alt.obituaries newsgroup. Wittily, revealingly, touchingly she writes of the obituarists she's come to know (and of their obituaries) in addition to the fascinating life stories of their subjects--the universally celebrated and those who should be celebrated for their everyday feats. She's a regular at the annual Great Obituary Writers World Conference. In an old Las Vegas hotel in 2004, just as the meeting was adjourning, word spread about the demise of Ronald Reagan. Johnson described it as "the perfect eleventh hour death." The writers sprinted off in all directions. Johnson did prodigious research in the records of London's Times, Telegraph, Independent, and Guardian. After two of the four began featuring photos in their death features a few decades back, an "obituary renaissance" took hold. Fierce competition lifted standards across the U.S. as well. I read a critic's comment somewhere that mused it was a bit ironic that the status of the obituary is at an all-time high even as electronic media vultures circle our newspapers.
-Sue

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This page contains a single entry published on July 25, 2007 7:46 PM.

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