Ex Libris Kirkland

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Subtitle Life Studies from the Dismal Trade
First Written 2009
Genre Nonfiction
Origin US
Publisher Norton
ISBN-10 0393334872
My Copy library copy
First Read May 30, 2023

The Undertaking

A really charming series of essays about being a 'funeral director' in a small town. The author is also a poet and a GREAT writer, and I'd definitely never heard of this but somehow it make its way onto my 'recommended to-read' list. It's great - discursive and interesting, a lot like some other very opinionated nonfiction I've read lately like Capon and Macfarlane.

Noted on May 30, 2023

[on visualizing your lifespan as a trip from the east coast to California:]

Of course, the middle of your life was back in Kansas where the horizon seemed endless on either side. You can see for miles, the stars come out, you are balanced between your infancy and decrepitude, your Bronx and Santa Barbara, your beginning and your end; balanced by your equal vision of what's behind you and before you, the done deals and possibilities. Upright, at ease in your skin: Kansas. It only lasts a moment. When you recognize the terrain, you are in the middle. Double your age for the day you will die. If it happen when you're twenty, figure on forty. If you're forty when i happens, count your blessings, save more, pick names for great-grandchildren. It's a simple theory, really. Algebra, history, geography, nothing fancy.

Quoted on May 30, 2023

[I mean, this is incredible:]

Robin Robertson gazed out the bay window in search of, theme befitting his surroundings. In black ink centered on the blank page before him he wrote dow n "Artichoke" and began to work from the memory of the first meal he'd prepared for the woman who would later marry him.

He had steamed them. He'd prepared a side dressing of clarified butter and cilantro.

As they pealed the artichokes they grew contemplative. The table kept them out of reach except for their eyes, which met at intervals then returned to the vegetable duties before them.

Their hands grew wet and warm with the pealing. The slow ceremony of food kept them wordless and full of wonder.

The leaves had the texture of secret and private parts, the penetralia of life, where thistle and fuzz and folds give way to pleasure, where touch and taste become the one sensation. He watched her work her tongue and then her teeth and then her lips around the plump, pulpy base of the leaves. And she watched him watching her.

"There now," the woman said, finishing first, the heart exposed. She licked it first, pursing her lips against it, looking at him all the while, and consumed it with the slightest appreciative noise and her eyes closed. He let his fingers work deep into the hairs until the cleanly dampness seemed permanent and the room was filled with the warm aroma of the Mediterranean.

Quoted on May 30, 2023

Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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