Lee Striga is a Hollywood stuntwoman who gets injured during a movie shoot and has to step back to reassess her life. It takes her a bit to figure outLee Striga is a Hollywood stuntwoman who gets injured during a movie shoot and has to step back to reassess her life. It takes her a bit to figure out how to get back up on the horse, but in the end, Lee is a force worth reckoning with. She's fierce, not afraid to throw herself in harm's way, and quick to protect everyone without worrying about herself. I adore her.
The inside view of low-budget horror films is fascinating, but what really made the book for me was Dana's deft creation of characters. She writes people who are just likable. Some of my favorite parts of the book are when the women Lee meets just hang out and go to the mermaid bar to chat.
This was the perfect airplane read. I was entirely absorbed throughout a cross-country flight. What a fascinating world Dana has created! I can't wait for the next book. ...more
Every graveyard needs a book like this: a little history, a little architecture, a bit of gossip, and a self-guided walking tour or two.
For the most pEvery graveyard needs a book like this: a little history, a little architecture, a bit of gossip, and a self-guided walking tour or two.
For the most part, I am woefully uneducated about Australian history. Because of that, I found the information about the Victoria Gold Rush, the return of the "diggers" to settle in Melbourne, and the early exploration of the continent to be quite fascinating. The labor struggles and political battles were also new to me. Best of all were the opinionated biographies of the people buried here.
The Melbourne General Cemetery itself had an unusual history, with this management overseen by religious leaders -- and its monuments approved by religious censors -- that stands in contrast to the rural and garden cemeteries that I'm more familiar with.
The only reason I'm withholding one star from this book is that there are too few photographs and those included rarely rise above overexposed snapshots. They don't do justice to this atmospheric old place.
This was a great addition to my cemetery collection....more
It's not easy to find books about Australian cemeteries in the US. This one is currently going for over $200 on Amazon, although I paid much less on eIt's not easy to find books about Australian cemeteries in the US. This one is currently going for over $200 on Amazon, although I paid much less on ebay. I don't know if this indicates a lack of Australian cemetery books in general or if they just aren't being marketed to the American cemetery aficionado scene.
As cemetery books go, this one is fairly comprehensive, if a little dry. It offers color images of the landscape and grave markers (although it could certainly have more). It has images from historical ephemera. It has page after page of black and white photographs of the cemetery in its prime.
It's scattered with the kind of historical tidbits I like, like the first burials in each division of the necropolis. The book has whole section on the artistic and architectural styles on display in Rookwood. There are also chapters on the Rookwood Cemetery railroad line, the family of stonemasons who worked in the cemetery for four generations, and the landscape design, with a focus on the original plants that survive.
The Sleeping City could use much more information on the characters buried in Rookwood. There's barely a mention of Ruby Elizabeth Sterio Adams, who died in 1982, and whose gravestone honors her as Queen of the Gypsies. The chapter profiling people buried here isn't even 30 pages long. The listings skew Anglo and male.
Since this year is the sesquicentennial of Rookwood Necropolis, I hope a new guide is on its way....more
A beautifully illustrated, full-color hard cover guide to cemeteries around the world that are worthy of your bucket list. I'm the author, so of coursA beautifully illustrated, full-color hard cover guide to cemeteries around the world that are worthy of your bucket list. I'm the author, so of course I'm biased, but I can't wait for the world to see it!...more
The key to this book is the byline on the cover: Retold by Tom Ogden. Rather than presenting his research as straight nonfiction or inserting himselfThe key to this book is the byline on the cover: Retold by Tom Ogden. Rather than presenting his research as straight nonfiction or inserting himself into the narratives and writing a kind of creative nonfiction memoir, Ogden invents a new character to tell each tale. In consequence, the chapters read much more like fiction, making this a collection of ghost stories rather than a research text.
The first five chapters explore the area in and around Chicago, hitting the expected stops: Resurrection Cemetery, Bachelor's Grove, Graceland. The next 13 chapters breeze through the rest of the US. Four chapters concentrate on Southern California, before moving up to Stull (the Gateway to Hell), spending two chapters in New Orleans, visiting Poe's grave, hitting two Civil War battlefields, stopping off in Salem, and ending up in Maine.
Some of the subject choices are tenuous: The ghosts of St. Augustine are ignored for the story of Carl Tanzler, who lived with the corpse of one of his patients. The story is an anomaly, since it is written as a straight nonfiction article.
The rest of the world is covered in the final seven chapters, which waver between nonfiction articles and fictionalized stories. The subject matter is mostly what you'd expect: the Highgate Vampire, King Tut's curse, the Paris catacombs. I liked the chapters that ranged farther afield: the "Capering Coffins of Christ Church" in Barbados, Tiskhvin Cemetery in St. Petersburg (where the Russian composers are buried), Gallipoli, and Devil's Island.
Overall, I enjoyed the book, despite the weird fictionalized way Ogden chose to convey its information....more
I picked this up because I kept seeing it referenced in the bibliographies of books on cemetery history. The Space of Death is heavy of the theory ofI picked this up because I kept seeing it referenced in the bibliographies of books on cemetery history. The Space of Death is heavy of the theory of cemeteries. Chapters are called "The Vegetal Setting of Death" and "Functionalism and Death," but for the most part, it isn't a dry textbook. I'm not sure if that can be attributed to the author or the translator.
Because it was originally written in French, French cemeteries and their places in French history predominate. Which is fascinating, if you're curious about the Cemetery of the Holy Innocents or Pere Lachaise. It went over the French Revolution and the cycles of execution in such detail that I skipped ahead.
Still, if you have the patience for it, the book is full of material I've read nowhere else. For instance, early Christians were buried nude inside their winding sheets. Churchmen were the first to be buried in their clothes "...no doubt believing it to be more decent." (Did I mention the author's sense of humor?) In the 17th and 18th centuries, monuments in churches ceased to be three dimensional and instead backed against the wall, forcing viewers to stand and look at them from the front, like theater tableaux. Before 1920, rural villages of France had only three approved subjects for public art: the fountain, the crucifix, and the virgin. Only after World War I did memorials to the dead become acceptable.
Overall, this remarkable book was very worth tracking down....more
I'm not sure how the author filled so many pages with so little content. I think it would have been less disappointing if the text had been arranged aI'm not sure how the author filled so many pages with so little content. I think it would have been less disappointing if the text had been arranged as encyclopedia entries, so I could have seen in advance how little information there was on any topic I might be interested in. That might have cut down on its redundant passages, too.
The author's research for the book consisted mainly of reading interviews published in Rolling Stone or Boing Boing (really!), without actually speaking to any of the figures included in the text. It read like a college research paper, without actually proving its subtitle or revealing any witches. In fact, I think this might provide the background research for a fascinating book that delves into everything glossed over here.
Really, all I want is the memoir of Walli Emlark. Does such a thing exist? She doesn't even get name-checked in this book, despite Bowie's photo on the cover....more
I have to admit, I am skeptical about books about losing your pets. Having been too often subjected to “The Rainbow Bridge,” I know how quickly sentimI have to admit, I am skeptical about books about losing your pets. Having been too often subjected to “The Rainbow Bridge,” I know how quickly sentiment about pets can trigger a gag reflex. That the first edition of this book had a pastel collage of animal grave markers on its cover, along with a shockingly red sticker that proclaims it “A Lasting Gift for Anyone Who Loves Animals,” might be enough to scare away the heartiest morbid reader. That has been corrected in this edition.
Inside are 100 Polaroid transfer photographs that document pet cemeteries from London to San Diego. Lanci-Altomare, who has done solo shows of her photographs at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, has an eye for beauty, true emotion, and humor. The Polaroid transfer process gives the photos a light-struck, grainy quality reminiscent of the photo plaques washed by the sun that you find on headstones. The effect serves her subject very well.
A minor quibble is the design of the book. Rather than group the photos by graveyard—so that the reader could get a sense of place—photos of the same graveyards rise again and again, sort of like a refrain. I found it frustrating.
How’s the text? Let me give you some context. When I originally read the book, my companion of 14 years was gravely ill with bladder stones. I dragged him to the vet time and again, each time certain that he wouldn’t survive to be brought home. I passed through all the Kübler-Ross stages in preparation of putting him to sleep when the vet performed a miracle. For all my cynicism, I know how painful it is to face the death of someone with whom you’ve lived so long.
The text is very good. It ranges from historical notes about (too few) graveyards to newspaper articles about the police dogs who located bodies after the Oklahoma Federal Building bombing into explanations from cemetery owners about how and why they do their jobs. I particularly liked the piece from the Humane Society that explains how visits to the pet cemetery keep volunteers sane as they work with abandoned animals. Other highlights were stories about the cat who eased a terminally ill boy into death and the dog who greeted mourners at the pet cemetery where he worked. There’s a smattering of poetry, but it can be easily bypassed.
This is a very nice book on a topic that hasn’t been explored. ...more
Robert Pinsky's introduction to this collection of David Goberman's gravestone photography is poetic and devastating. Pinsky speaks of these gravestonRobert Pinsky's introduction to this collection of David Goberman's gravestone photography is poetic and devastating. Pinsky speaks of these gravestones as not only recording the lives whose names they bear but also as markers that memorialize the death of a world that no longer exists, wiped out by World War II and Stalin.
Starting in the 1930s, David Goberman photographed the Jewish graveyards beyond the Pale of Russia. In this so-called Pale of Settlement, Jews made up almost twelve percent of the population. A million and a half Jews lived in some 700 towns and cities that had Jewish majorities. In some cases, they had lived there for centuries. Some of the grave markers are no better than folk art: lions carved by someone who has only ever seen a lion pictured in a book. Others are wonderful, complex works of art, combining typography and symbolism to reveal the lives of the people buried below.
This is a beautiful book and lovingly produced. The only reason I've taken one star off is because it paints such a dire picture unnecessarily. Yes, much is gone: the communities, their culture, the graveyards themselves. However, some does survive: the large, lovely graveyard at Chernivitsi in the Western Ukraine still exists and still welcomes heritage tourists.
This is not to say that what graveyards do survive are not endangered. These days, more than ever, it seems that we are called on to protect the relics of the past, to remember the lessons they teach us....more