Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide To Hosting the Perfect Funeral
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Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide To Hosting the Perfect Funeral

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  939 ratings  ·  168 reviews
There are too few words and phrases to adequately describe this unique devil-take-the-hindmost approach to cooking and end-of-life ceremonies. Tongue in cheek? Maybe. Laugh-out-loud narrative? Definitely. Plus, an extraordinary combination of ingredients (it is a cookbook, after all). We learn that a "glowing obituary is practically a birthright in the Delta"; that both ar...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 16th 2005 by Miramax (first published 2005)
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And Then There Were None by Agatha ChristieDoctor No by Ian FlemingAlexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith ViorstNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthyA Woman of No Importance by Oscar Wilde
Just Say No!
32nd out of 104 books — 25 voters
Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! by Fannie FlaggDrown by Jennifer Rae GravelyBeing Dead Is No Excuse by Gayden MetcalfeThe Girls of August by Anne Rivers SiddonsThe All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg
Adult/Women's Southern Fiction
1st out of 20 books — 3 voters


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Community Reviews

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Stephen
It is hard to know whether to shelve this book under Thanatology or Cooking or Humour. It purports to be "The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral." It delivers on that promise -- not only a hundred recipes for funeral dishes traditional to the Mississippi Delta but also advice on hymns, flowers, notes, and all those other social graces which sort one into the upper and lower classes. Who knew there was such a dish as Bing Cherry Salad made with Coca Cola? Who knew that...more
Phogbound
Being dead in The South has obligations for both the mourners and the dearly departed. The recentsly Bereaved are responsible for magically summoning food, drinks and compansionship for both the family and themselves. Sadly, it is a culture that is being lost as its accolytes pass on to their own Reward. It wasn't always that way and this book shows why.

Thankfully, this book lays down the basics illustrated by anecdotes and memories. Even better are the old recipes interspersed throughout with...more
Maggie
I never read so much about aspic (which, despite being Southern to my toes, I have never tried) or Campbell's cream of mushroom soup in my life. Which was kind of the point, I guess. This book is a mixture of funny essays about throwing a funeral in the Mississippi Delta town of Greenville, Mississippi, and recipes for "funeral foods." (Mississippi, by the way, is very fun to type) Some anecdotes had tears of laughter rolling down my cheeks as I recognized familiar idiosyncracies - especially th...more
Beth Hall
I was laughing so hard at one point my husband thought there was something wrong with me--and I think actually came downstairs to investigate (shocking).

I think it was when I was reading this part (I'm paraphrasing slightly here):

Southern Episcopalians wear their devoutness lightly. Perhaps this is why they are so good at funerals. They know how to mix the casual and the formal, the proper and the relaxed (or perhaps the proper and the highly improper.) No where has this sensibility been better...more
Elizabeth
This is a delightfully hilarious book that is exactly what the title says, complete with delicious recipes appropriate for taking to the home of the bereaved, wakes, or funeral receptions. The voice is pure Mississippi Delta, but anyone, especially if you're from the South, will recognize these people, traditions, and situations surrounding one of the most predictable of life's passages: death. I found myself laughing out loud more than once. The chapter on Episcopalians vs. Methodists was a scr...more
Dennis
I read this book as a research book for a play I'm writing. It was a surprise to learn it was a cookbook with spirited essays about the culture of southern delta funerals, centered in Greenville, MS. I knew about any true southerner's affection for the cocktail hour, the libation Olympics. They celebrate most anything and everything with a gusto not matched anywhere in the world, but I did not know about the casserole wars between the stalwart Episcopalians and the mild and meek Methodists, thou...more
Rachel Terry
I love etiquette books, and this one had such a unique angle. It's full of recipes, which I probably won't try because I don't like cream of mushroom soup, but I'm exceedingly curious about aspic--tomato juice, horseradish, and unflavored gelatin? Intriguing. Some of it reminded me of Texas, like when you say "pop" instead of "co-cola" and everyone laughs at you and calls you a Yankee. But mostly I liked the funny stories in this book. Like this: "In 1905, Joshua Ridgeway was shot and killed in...more
Melinda
This book is a lighthearted read, bringing laughs and chuckles and remembrances of recipes all having to do with Southern funerals. The title indicates that "being dead is no excuse to have a poor funeral". So you should plan, be prepared, and make use of the tips and advice from these two Southern ladies. If you are from the Mississippi Delta area, or have family in the deep South, then you will find common ground laughing through chapters like "The Methodist Ladies vs. the Episcopal Ladies" an...more
Dilley Sue
Look, all of us who live in the South know the world perceives us as a bit "different." We have rules and codes of behavior for things the rest of the world ignores. But the fun comes when someone in the know,like Gayden Metcalfe explains those rules to the rest of the world and why making and breaking those rules can be a source of joy.

This book lightheartedly explains the South's great codification of and obsession with Death, a significant part of life below the Mason/Dixon. As tornadoes were...more
Ashley
Mar 17, 2010 Ashley rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Old, southern people
Thought this would be a lot funnier than it actually was. Was written very tongue-in-cheek but that got old after a chapter or two. Recipes were included after each section, but most sounded quite unappetizing and were pretty old-fashioned. The book as a whole smacked of old-fashionedness, as a matter of fact.


Didn't care for this one. And I'm from the south!
Kellyflower
This is a little guide to help you host the perfect funeral, from a Southern's Pov. Yes, it's written tongue in cheek.
There were several paragraphs I found my self nodding my head while reading. One paragraph went on talking about
"a Cocoa-Cola (pronounced "co-cola"), which in the South means any soft drink.."

Here's the Chapter titles:
Dying Tastefully in the Mississippi Delta
"“The last time somebody was cremated, his ashes were sprinkled from a crop duster. We all ran for cover. We liked him fi...more
Erin
Cute quick, slightly funny read. Really more recipes than humor though...
Kara

In the book Daniel’s Story, the main character describes the horrors of WWII. He narrates how just a few years before the war, if a person died, the whole community mourned, but, as he describes his present situation (no spoilers, but hint, its bad) death was is common as to be unremarked.

That always stuck with me – death is an indicator of the health of the community.

When times are good a person is buried with full pomp and circumstance. When times are bad, bodies are buried in haste, if at al...more
Peggy Bonnington
I could almost give this one a two or 2.5. I liked it OK but not all THAT much. I probably wouldn't have gotten through the entire thing if it hadn't been a book club choice. Yes, it was cute/funny - which sort of equates with "cutesy" which means a little over the top cute, not really QUALITY cute. I guess it's quality cute up to a point but just goes on too long with very, very similar jokes and take-offs on "cutesy" sayings about dying, like "I coulda just died" or a number of others that kee...more
Wallace
Feb 24, 2008 Wallace rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: any Southern cook with a sense of humor
Recommended to Wallace by: Jan Campbell
This book is hilarious IF you are a Southern cook - otherwise, it may be a little ho hum. Coming from a long line of small town Southern cooks, I have seen or eaten many of the dishes, and I am well-schooled in proper funeral etiquette (although I didn't realize I was so well-trained until I read it!). Basically, the book is a guide for hosting a good funeral, from food to flowers to music to receiving guests at the house. Of course, it is written with Southern charm and wit, and it pokes fun at...more
Aaron
A friend lent this to me after a discussion about similar foods that Midwesterners and Southerners bring to events (green jello molds with cottage cheese on a bed of lettuce).

The book reads like a number of newspaper or magazine columns stitched together; chapters usually start on one subject then suddenly transition to another. It's a little jarring, but, I realized that either these WERE old columns stitched together OR this could very well be how Southern ladies chat (I liked to read some par...more
Kelly
I'm one of those people who likes to read cookbooks, and this one is one of the best reads ever. (Which reminds me of some other cookbooks I need to reread and review, such as The Lake House Cookbook by Trudie Styler.) I'm not from the Mississippi Delta area, but have lived the small town Southern life ling enough to recognize everything these two ladies are talking about. The work behind the scenes of a funeral is both arduous and hilarious, and having been the "Dead Food Goddess" at my church...more
Lee Ann
Quick fun read chosen by my church book club. If you like the books about Growing Up Lutheran, these are similar but with stories of small-town South. Even better are the amazing recipes included. I particularly like the vodka chocolate cake.
Jennifer Cooper
Jul 28, 2008 Jennifer Cooper rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jennifer by: Sloan
Shelves: food, funny
A funny take on what it takes to throw a proper funeral in the deep South. The chapters all have cute names like 'There is a Balm in Campbell's Soup,' and 'I Was So Embarrassed I Liketa Died.' Each starts with advice about things like choosing proper flowers and making ladylike tea sandwiches, and has plenty of cute anecdotes about bad behavior-- drunken friends, pushy neighbors, and tacky relatives. Recipes make up the second part of the chapters. There are 3 recipes for devilled eggs, 6 recipe...more
Sarah Thomas
Part cookbook, part Southern gossip. The writing was quite humorous, my only complaint is that I wish there were more to it (more writing), perhaps it calls for a Book 2. I tried one of the casserole recipes (vegetable casserole, page 59). For raiding my pantry and waiting 45 minutes for it to bake, it was surprising good. Though I doubt it will make a debut at any of my "Yankee" functions.
Christine
Apr 15, 2008 Christine rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Christine by: Jenny Shin
Shelves: book-club-books
Kind of like reading a cook book. I never thought I was a health-conscience cook until I read some of the repeatedly used ingredients in these "Southern" recipes:) Some funny stories, but kind of randomly placed in between the recipes. Its not a long book, but it took me a long time to read it. I never really got into it since there's no real story line. However, I am excited to try several of the recipes:)

We just had a book club with this as the book and it was so fun! Everyone brought a differ...more
Rachel
If you're from the South and looking for stories where you spend the entire time saying to yourself, "yep, I can totally see this happening" this book is for you.

It's a very quick read, no more than a 3-4 hours but I kept wanting to reread the stories - they're very funny rather than macabre (it is a book centered around death, after all.) If the other books in the series are as good as this one, I want them all.

Caution to those who buy this book for the recipes - everything is a can of this, a...more
Dixie Diamond
Cute. Repetitive and not really as funny as the author probably thought, but cute. Some of the recipes sound good in a community-cookbook kind of way.
Brasel -
Sep 21, 2008 Brasel - rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: All Southern to relive & all Northerns to understand where we came from.
Recommended to Brasel by: Amazon
I never laughed and cried so much reading a book. This truly was the way it was growing up in the true Southern ways and even most of the practices are still being taught in families.

Everyone that reads this book, will sometimes be ashamed to admit that they were like this and then again remember all of the things that we wish still happen everywhere.

You weren't allow to talk bad about the person that died, but when you got back to the homeplace to eat and have fellowship you could.

By the Way...more
Marilyn
I loved this book! I'm not sure that anyone who didn't have a connection to the south would enjoy it like I did. I've 'hosted' two southern funerals in the last 16 months and so much of what is written in this book is absolutely true! The first foods brought to the house after my mother died were stuffed eggs and homemade pimiento cheese. The night before the funeral we had beef tenderloin and rosemary new potatoes. In my home town some of the 'rules' have been relaxed a bit but the hospitality...more
Jill Norcross
If you are a Southerner you'll relate. Great book club pick. Make the recipes and serve during your discussion group. So fun!
Drew Barnes
Coming from a family that ran a funeral home in the south, I'd say this is pretty much perfection.
Kimberly
Those who've lived in or near or among those from the South, will surely enjoy this read!
Donna O
Lots of stuff true about funerals that can apply to many but cooking 'ain't my thing!
A
While this is clearly a book about a specific subset of women who live in the south (as opposed to a more academic book comparing and contrasting funerary responses of southern women across different socioeconomic and cultural heritages), it is not without it's charms. Chief amongst them being a sense of humor and giving the reader a sense of the community involvement needed to pull off funerals.

The recipes in the book are interesting and show amongst other things, that jello salad (which the a...more
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“The last time somebody was cremated, his ashes were sprinkled from a crop duster. We all ran for cover. We liked him fine, but we didn't want him all over our good clothes.” 0 likes
“The Episcopalian ideal of a gentleman is a man who, if a lady falls down drunk, will pick her up off the floor and freshen up her drink. You practically have to be on the list for your second liver transplant before a Southern Episcopalian notices that you drink too much.” 0 likes
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