The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries
Johnson tries her hardest to show how great obits are- she speaks incessantly to how they bring people closure, or together, or whatever. It was when she was in the middle of these diatr...more
More specifically, Johnson writes about the blossoming cult following obituaries have been attracting for some time now. She gives an overview of the favored obituary writers, the best websites to find international favorite obituaries, the life of an obituary writer and the changing styles and fashi...more
It's about obituaries of all sorts, so the topic had possibilities. Sometimes obits are poignant, or shocking, or snippy, or sentimental... they can be a lot of interesting things.
The ones that were sprinkled throughout the text made for sporatic interesting reading.
Unfortunately, the book also spent a lot of time covering brief bios of obit writers- who are more of a specialized taste, I'd say.
Additionally there were bri...more
When I worked for a local newspaper, about a decade ago,...more
Marilyn Johnson has crafted a relatively enjoyable book about obituaries, the people who write them, and guffaw! the people who live for t...more
Some interesting material on trends in the genre, e.g., increasing prominence of extended takes on ordinary, non-celebrity deaths ("A local life" in the Wx Po...more
p.222: "I still think that the point of the obituary and the beauty of it, aside from its elegant structure and the wonderful writing it can inspire, lies in that heroic act. There goes one, the only one, the last of his kind, the end of a particular strand of DNA. ... The better the obit, the closer it approaches re-creation. I...more
The book itself seemed really interesting, especially seeing as how much I enjoy things relating to death and the macabre. I love reading obituaries, so I thought I would love reading this book. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Johnson comes across as a tad too elitist for my tastes. The book is quite lacking in structure, though some of the snip...more
In any case, Johnson takes us into the weird and hyper-literate world of obituaries. We meet some of the obituarist...more
There are some gems and you really have to stick with the book to find them. Then, like their subjects, they are too soon passed. The snippets of real obits are interesting for their style of writing or for the historical info you learn. But my favorite part, because I'm a j...more
Johnson, a writer and editor for Life, Esquire, and Outside, knows whereof she speaks; she has written obituaries for such luminaries as Johnny Cash, Katherine Hepburn, and Marlon Brando. Though critics hint at the gloomy nature of her subject, they are won over by her humorous, "uplifting, joyous, life-affirming read for people who ordinarily steer clear of uplifting, joyous, life-affirming reads" (Los Angeles Times). Though spotty in places, Dead Beat never fails to entertain. Shunning the ant...more
The "dead zone" is one of those things, like April Fool's Day stories, that British newspapers generally do better than American ones, at least when it comes to the rich and famous dead.
The Brits, in both cases, have a sense of snark that is considered "not proper" for about any American seven-day or six-day daily, basically.
That said, American papers have done quite well with the "storytelling" format of "everyman" obits.
Marilyn Johnson covers both types...more
The pleasurable bits of this book are obit excerpts from US and British newspapers. It seems a little disjointed, though, and not so well edited. ('Nexus' news database. Really.) I also thought the author was a bit obsequious towards the alt.obituary listserv contributors who are her heros.
Glad to have been turned onto the thriv...more
It compares quite a few famous names in obit writing, and sources of good obits, especially online these days. It lead me to spend a bit of time comp...more
The book chronicles obit conventions, websites (celebrity death beeper at deathbeeper.com and
findagrave.com), bios of obit writers and offers up critical analysis of obit styles. She contrasts the styles of various newspapers. Mainly those of London papers with ours here in the States. I found this organizational structure a...more
So, I actually read--shock! amazement!--a non-fiction book. It had been languishing on my TBR list for ages, when a friend of mine who read it kept talking about how much she enjoyed it. I put a hold on it and today it arrived.
Johnson is one of the people who, when reading a newspaper, turns f...more