Monday, July 2, 2018

Death and Our Times

Margalit Fox announced her retirement as an obit editor at The Times and here is a part of the epitaph she wrote, “She was a decent stylist. She didn’t get too many things wrong. She didn’t tick too many people off. At times she wrote obits with tears in her eyes, but far more often she wrote them with joy. It was the joy that sprang from the extraordinary privilege of tracing the arc—in sweet-smelling newsprint, damp with ink—of lives well lived." ("She Knows How to Make an Exit. You're Reading It,"NYT, 6/28/18) Of course, it’s easy to write your own obit when you've been doing it for a living. You're used to writing endings so there isn’t any problem with form and from the standpoint of content the occupation's quirky and glamorous in an indecorous way. “The child has not been born who comes home from grade school clutching a theme that says, ‘When I grow up, I want to be…an obituary writer,’” Fox remarked. Fox also appeared in Obit, a recent movie that documents The Times's famed  "morgue.” Another Times writer John Leland recently wrote a piece entitled "The Positive Death Movement Comes to Life," (NYT, 6/11/18) in which one of his subjects Shatzi Weisberger coins the term “FUN-eral” to describe the rehearsal/parties she and her friends have been throwing in anticipation of their demise. And Times reviewer Parul Seghal recently reviewed Advice for Future Corpses and Those Who Love Them by Sallie Tisdale (NYT, 6/26/18). Maybe it’s time to read the writing on the wall or Tombstone as it were. Are you going to spin your legacy or leave that to posterity?

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