Unlike the usual "how they died" encyclopedias, "Rest in Pieces" is an encyclopedia of "what happened to them after they died." Lovejoy's criteria forUnlike the usual "how they died" encyclopedias, "Rest in Pieces" is an encyclopedia of "what happened to them after they died." Lovejoy's criteria for inclusion in the book: the people had to be famous and they couldn't rest peacefully in an undisturbed grave for eternity.
That's not to say this doesn't include the stories you expect: Vladimir Lenin's permanent snooze in his mausoleum in Red Square, Evita Peron's postmortem kidnapping, the road trips of Einstein's brain. In addition to those, it probes the mystery of the Skull & Bones skull said to be Geronimo's, the penis said to be Rasputin's, and the organ found in Mary Shelley's writing desk. It even explores more recent dispositions, like Hunter Thompson's fireworks display and Osama bin Laden's burial at sea.
Lovejoy's tone leans toward the snarky side of respectful, which feels appropriate. The only other way to go would be sustained outrage: how could Dorothy Parker's ashes have been kept in a filing cabinet? How could Americans lose Thomas Paine's body? How could Galileo Galilei been buried in a closet?
A fascinating page-turner. I look forward to seeing what Lovejoy will investigate next....more
I couldn't get through it. It reminded me of Tony Perrottet's travels in the same part of the world, but those books are much more enjoyable. This wasI couldn't get through it. It reminded me of Tony Perrottet's travels in the same part of the world, but those books are much more enjoyable. This was a jumble. It begins 12 stops into Huler's retracing of the Odyssey, with him glad that the two pretty stewardesses he meets aren't interested in having sex with him because his second wife is home alone, eight months pregnant, and anticipating his return. Ick. I'm more interested in the Odyssey -- and Mediterranean travel than this guy's midlife issues. The more he compares himself to Odysseus, the more he loses in comparison.
It did make me want to reread the Odyssey myself, though. And go back to Greece....more
I bought it for Marsden's luminous infrared photos, but the text is thoroughly enjoyable in itself. He traveled alone around France, seeking out hauntI bought it for Marsden's luminous infrared photos, but the text is thoroughly enjoyable in itself. He traveled alone around France, seeking out haunted castles, woods, and graveyards, where he hoped to have spooky encounters in several places he got so creeped out that he had to pack up and leave without fully exploring. I loved those bits.
I felt like he could have gone into the travel memoir side of the book even more. I wanted to hear about his adventures and the people he met along the way, some of whom seemed to have been great storytellers. I wish he'd included more of his references, too, so that I could find more depth to some of the ghost stories he relates.
He's inspired me to want to visit Carcasonne and learn more about the Albigensian crusade, though....more
I read this aloud to my 9-year-old in advance of the movie. It was her second time through it this year, after her father read it to her earlier. I woI read this aloud to my 9-year-old in advance of the movie. It was her second time through it this year, after her father read it to her earlier. I wondered if it would be scary (Gollum or the spiders) or sad (the deaths of characters you like), but she has already figured out that the main character can't be seriously harmed or the story can't continue, so she was never really frightened for Bilbo.
The language, though, was absolutely perfect for her. She identified completely with Bilbo's love of home and growing sense of adventure.
I won't give it 5 stars for the flaw in Tolkien's storytelling. SPOILER ALERT: A character comes out of nowhere to solve the problem we have spent the entire book reaching. While that's entirely realistic, it's just not done that way in fiction. Completely unsatisfying. I wonder how Peter Jackson will get around that.
We did take our daughter to the movie, which she thought was the best movie she'd ever seen and I thought was needlessly long and more violent than I expected for PG-13, even though it wasn't gory. The battle scenes in the novel go into much less detail while being more exciting for their brevity....more
Giving this 3 stars makes me look like a Scrooge, but really the lack of 5 stars is for the other stories included in the book, not the one you're famGiving this 3 stars makes me look like a Scrooge, but really the lack of 5 stars is for the other stories included in the book, not the one you're familiar with. A Christmas Carol really does hold up on re-reading, even if you can quote parts of it aloud. I'd forgotten that Scrooge sees the housekeeper, the landlady, and the undertaker sell his stuff to the pawnbroker. One of them actually took his best shirt off his corpse in order to sell it. That's seriously harsh.
The book is filled out with other Christmas stories Dickens wrote after the success of A Christmas Carol. My favorite of those was "A Christmas Tree," which is a strange meditation on the ornaments Dickens loved (I think). He goes on at length about the strange toys he played with as a child before spinning into ghost stories. Was the Christmas ghost story a Victorian tradition? The ones he relates here are really fun.
I'm glad to have read more of Dickens' work, but I'm not sure I will reread these additional tales year after year. I'm looking forward, though, to reading A Christmas Carol aloud to my daughter next December, though. ...more
This is the best guide to the cemeteries of Los Angeles yet. Jammed with Douglas Keister's beautiful color photographs -- all exquisitely printed -- tThis is the best guide to the cemeteries of Los Angeles yet. Jammed with Douglas Keister's beautiful color photographs -- all exquisitely printed -- the book weighs more than the other guides, which might make it prohibitive to drag around a graveyard with you, if you're juggling a camera and notebook, too. If you're just sightseeing, this is the book for you. All the color headstone photos make it easy to know exactly what you're looking for.
However, the book is short on history of the graveyards. Permanent Californians is better for that, as well as more fully developed biographies of the biggest stars. Forever L.A. also focuses on fewer celebrities; if you want a more comprehensive list, Laid to Rest in California is the book you want.
In addition, Forever L.A. suffers from puzzling organization. You can read the section on Westwood Village Memorial Park, but the text directs you elsewhere in the book to the listing for Don Knotts and somewhere else again to read about Marilyn Monroe. In fact, Marilyn's biography snuggles up against one for Joe DiMaggio, who isn't buried in L.A. at all. I guess this just proves my contention that any collection of gravestones is necessarily going to be idiosyncratic and reflect the predilections of the person compiling it.
I see what Keister was doing when he collected together all the stars of The Wizard of Oz or Bonanza or It's a Mad, Mad (etc.) World, but I found it frustrating not to have all the cemetery information gathered into the appropriate chapter when I was standing in the graveyard. Is this book meant for armchair travelers or people in the field?
And why is the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland included at all? While the photos are lovely, the section takes up valuable book real estate that could have been used by Angelus Rosedale, where Hattie McDaniel is buried and Buffy the Vampire Slayer was filmed.
Still, if you are traveling to L.A. and want to visit graveyards, I suggest you start with this book. It's the most recent and has by far the prettiest pictures. You just might want to dip into the other books for more depth after you get home....more
The book jacket describes this as the "first and only" guide to the cemeteries of New England. I'm curious to know if that's true. I know there were gThe book jacket describes this as the "first and only" guide to the cemeteries of New England. I'm curious to know if that's true. I know there were guides to Mt. Auburn and the other garden cemeteries published in the 19th century (unfortunately, I don't have any of them in my collection), but I don't know if there was an overall guide to the region -- or if this is just a publisher's hype.
Either way, this is a really fun book. If you're making a road trip, as I've been lucky enough to do, throughout New England and wonder what lovely graveyards you might find along the way, this is the ideal guidebook. Andrew Kull seems to have actually visited these cemeteries and has opinionated, entertaining observations about them. I like that he directs H. P. Lovecraft "cultists" to ask directions to the author's grave when they visit Swan Point Cemetery in Providence. I like also his assertion: "Burial Hill in Plymouth enjoys, without question, the most magnificent site of any cemetery in New England." Doesn't that just make you want to see for yourself?
The primary flaw is a dearth of photographs, although there are a few. In addition, New England Cemeteries jams 260 cemeteries, graveyards, and burial grounds into a mere 240-some pages (plus index and an essay on how to make grave rubbings), so you're not getting in-depth information. In fact, you're not even getting cemetery addresses, though the book does include opening hours, which were current in 1975. Still, for company on a road trip, Kull's book is a useful and entertaining companion....more
There seem to be very few books about the graveyards of New Mexico. This one, which collects lovely black-and-white photographs taken in the early 194There seem to be very few books about the graveyards of New Mexico. This one, which collects lovely black-and-white photographs taken in the early 1940s, documents the camposantos that the photographer recognized would be going away. The wooden crosses and picket fences couldn't stand forever, even in the desert air. I wonder if these images could be recreated now, or if she was right, and all that's contained in this book has passed away.
The historical essay which opens the book raises an interesting point: During New Mexico's colonial period, "hostile Indians" desecrated graves, which led to burials inside churches. (I would have liked to see some images illustrating those burials.) By the 1880s, when things were more settled, every village had a camposanto surrounding its adobe church. Unlike the stark images in this book, some grave monuments were brightly painted, while others were white-washed. Crowns of thorns or roses were common decorations, but like the colors, these had vanished by the time these photos were taken.
The grave markers recorded here range from hand-lettered cement to rough wooden crosses to ornately shaped or pierced wooden planks. Offerings range from real cacti planted at the marker's foot to silk flowers or pine branches. Many of the monuments have lost their names, yet some still stand bolt upright against the dramatic sky.
Despite or because of the melancholy black-and-white photos, it's a really beautiful book. It makes me want to go back to New Mexico and seek some of these places out for myself. I wonder how much has survived. ...more
Updated Hollywood Babylon without the pictures. I found Petrucelli's snarky tone really off-putting, especially as he mocks people he just interviewedUpdated Hollywood Babylon without the pictures. I found Petrucelli's snarky tone really off-putting, especially as he mocks people he just interviewed and got to know right before their deaths. His author's voice made me sad. I think it's possible to cover this same material in a respectful way, but basically I'm just not that interested in the deaths of celebrities. Give me a graveyard over a pop-cult obituary any day....more
I picked this up in a travel bookstore in NYC (remember travel bookstores?) because I read the chapter in which the author follows an exorcist aroundI picked this up in a travel bookstore in NYC (remember travel bookstores?) because I read the chapter in which the author follows an exorcist around Clerkenwell. It made me remember how much I loved the Mike Carey novels with much the same protagonist -- except that this story is true. It's by far the most interesting story in this book and worth the price I paid for it.
The other pieces are of varying depths and therefore of varying appeal. The text is written in London slang, some of which I got from context and some of which I had to let pass. Even after reading the chapter on mini-cab drivers, I'm still not sure how they differ from black cab drivers. The chapters that shine are the ones where the author spends time with his subjects long enough to individualize them, like the barger on the Thames and the urban fox-hunter.
There are snide comments made repeatedly about the ravers and other partiers of the London night, but apparently our author couldn't find any to hang out with, because they remain shadowy shallow caricatures. There is also a serious lack of women in the book, for whatever reason. One would expect there are many working through the London night, even in legitimate jobs.
I don't know if this book is available electronically, but that might be a better way to read it, so that you don't have it taking up shelf-space afterward....more
I've been curious how many of the old Spanish missions still have their original graveyards. This book provided some guidance through its photographsI've been curious how many of the old Spanish missions still have their original graveyards. This book provided some guidance through its photographs (because, let's face it, old graves are picturesque), but for the most part, the graveyards didn't rate much mention in the text. My search will have to continue.
That said, the photographs in this book are really lovely. They capture the interiors of the old churches and the details of their decorations. Sunlight paints the rooms. Outside, the skies are always the luminous Californian blue. Flowers nod and trees drowse and things seem very peaceful. Where appropriate, the museums or recreated cells of the padres are staged as carefully as a photo shoot. This book, whether a spur to exploring California's Spanish -- and Mexican -- history or as a souvenir after such a trip, is beautiful to page through.
It falls down in the text, unfortunately, The same details are repeated over and over: the fathers select the mission site. The natives help build a church. It floods. There's an earthquake or a fire. The soldiers molest the natives. There's an uprising. Spain hands the missions over to Mexico, who doesn't want the bother. The missions are sold, then mistreated, then almost destroyed. Rinse, repeat. There's really little point in reading the whole book cover to cover, as I did, because the story is the same every time.
I would have liked to know more about the native tribes and what they lost. I would have liked to know more about daily life in the missions. I would have liked to know more about those mission churchyards and who is buried there. Who marked their graves and why? How many forgotten Native Americans lie there and what's been done to perpetuate their memory?
I'm not sure why this book is so expensive. Yes, it's full of black and white photographs, but really, $75? It's not worth that.
Assembled from the LibI'm not sure why this book is so expensive. Yes, it's full of black and white photographs, but really, $75? It's not worth that.
Assembled from the Library of Congress's photo archives, Cemeteries is a "visual sourcebook" of images of American graveyards taken by families, news photographers, stereograms, advertisers, and government agencies. Sections focus on gates, grave markers, mausoleums, and other details of graveyards -- which is what I bought the book for and it's most useful attribute.
Unfortunately, the author assembling the photos got lazy. Rather than show a variety of African Americans working in cemeteries across the country, he includes a series of photos of the same people in the same cemetery. I would've found comparison and contrast more interesting than depth, especially since the depth is at odds from the way the rest of the book is put together. The same cemeteries and photographers do keep coming up over and over more than is truly necessary in other sections, but "Comings and Goings in the Silent City" is the most repetitive. It's disappointing.
If you are a cemetery fanatic, you might need to have this book (if you can get it discounted on Amazon). The historical overview in the first section is particularly useful. The photos throughout lean toward documentary rather than art, but if you bring a fair amount of knowledge to the book, it will reward you, even as it frustrates you. It could have been really spectacular. Instead, it seems rushed....more
While the title doesn't offer a clue, this is a book about the "famous" dead buried in the United Kingdom. The famous include Lord Tweedmore, Dame ClaWhile the title doesn't offer a clue, this is a book about the "famous" dead buried in the United Kingdom. The famous include Lord Tweedmore, Dame Clara Butt, Sir Anthony Eden, among many more, whose names were unfamiliar even after I read about them.
Even when the names are familiar, the book offers very little information about them. Roald Dahl is summed up as "the unrivaled master of the grotesque and ghoulish in children's fiction," without identifying him as the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It continues to confide that he's buried in the churchyard of St. Peter and Paul in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, but without any description of the grave or where it lies or how it's marked, I'm not sure what good the listing does you.
The book is organized into sections for England, London, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, then subdivided by county. The counties are broken into towns, then further minced into specific churches or graveyards. I might like this book more if I had more familiarity with the nooks and crannies of the United Kingdom. As it is, I don't know my Avon from my Yorkshire West and there's no map in these pages to help me. There's an index of people mentioned in the book, but not of the cemeteries covered.
The descriptions are too brief. The book reports that, "In the choir (Loren's note: not quire, as Salisbury Cathedral calls it) lies Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke" who died in 1621. She was an author and translator, as the book notes, but more importantly, she was the first English woman recognized as a poet in her own right. Her name numbers among those floated to be the true author of Shakespeare’s plays. Who Lies Where quotes a biographer who claims she “was very salacious” and liked to watch her stallions mount her mares, then sport with the stallions herself. Talk about TMI.
The book ignores everyone else buried in the cathedral, including a crusader who was half-brother to Richard the Lionhearted and the man responsible for distributing copies of the Magna Carta around England. It condenses Highgate Cemetery in fewer than 4 pages. The listing for Kensal Green spans 4-1/2 pages and ends with the cremation of Freddie Mercury, whose ashes were scattered at Lake Geneva, although you wouldn't know that from reading this book.
I was hoping to find a graveyard book that would guide me beyond London's reasonably well-documented cemeteries. This one is no help at all....more
Hugh Meller was the Historic Buildings Representative for the National Trust, so he grasps the intersection of architecture and British history. The bHugh Meller was the Historic Buildings Representative for the National Trust, so he grasps the intersection of architecture and British history. The book does descend into jargon from time to time, but it is the most comprehensive and complete guide to the graveyards of London I've read yet. I have a pretty good collection on the topic.
Opening with a lovely hand-drawn map, my edition of the book is the third. (I see a fifth edition was published in 2011, which expands the list of cemeteries covered from 103 to 126.) In addition to the Victorian-era Magnificent Seven cemeteries (Highgate, Kensal Green, Brompton, Abney Park, Nunhead, Norwood, and Tower Hamlets), Meller pokes around the Jewish cemeteries, the Dissenters' cemeteries, and pretty much any cemetery that still exists and is not affiliated with a single parish or church.
Which begs the question: has someone written a "Graveyard Shift: A Family Historian's Guide to New York City Cemeteries"-style book about London, tracing all the early burial grounds and plague pits, now gone? There would be a lot of history to explore!
Back to the matter at hand: Meller begins with a history of burial reform in England. London lagged not only behind Pere Lachaise, but also behind Glasgow and Liverpool in closing down the noxious churchyards and switching instead to "garden" or "rural" cemeteries where nature and beauty were celebrated in the face of grim death. Meller describes fashions in grave monuments and architecture, illustrated beautifully with crisp black-and-white photography. He includes a quick glossary of tombstone symbols, again fully illustrated with photographs. Some brief thoughts on epitaphs are followed by a chapter on the flora and fauna of the cemeteries, and then we're off to visit the graveyards themselves.
Each listing has a summary of the cemetery's history, its decline and redemption (if appropriate), photos, architectural and monument descriptions, and a smattering of familiar or historically important personnages in the graveyard under discussion. These names total more than 1000. They are helpfully indexed at the back of the book.
While the book is scholarly, it isn't dry. I would recommend it both to the novice visiting London's cemeteries for the first time and to the repeat visitor looking for more depth to her explorations....more