Sunday, May 16, 2010

From the Shelves: Obit

I just finished reading the book Obit by Jim Sheeler. On the surface one might think that a book that is composed of obituaries would be at best morbid, and at worst, horribly depressing. It is neither. The subtitle is "inspiring stories of ordinary people who led extraordinary lives" and it lives up to that billing. Each chapter is an obituary, but it is also the story of that person. In short, Sheeler breathes life into them one last time and makes the reader wish they had known the people and mourn their loss at least in part.
The essays, for really that is a better description than simply calling them obituaries, are celebrations of lives well lived (and in some instances cut too short) as well as memorials to those who have passed on. They are touching and moving and extremely well written. We should all be so lucky as to have Jim Sheeler write our last story. It makes me wonder what sort of stories my family would tell about me when the time comes (hopefully far off in the future). I expect most of those stories would be about my vivid power of recall, or perhaps my ridiculously strong sense of smell. Who truly knows what others find to be especially memorable about themselves?
At any rate, this is a beautiful book and one that I highly recommend. However, it might be better to dip into it from time to time instead of reading it all at once because, while it isn't depressing, it will leave you quite subdued.

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