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The Glen Rock Book of the Dead

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  295 ratings  ·  48 reviews
In her author’s note, Marion Winik writes that in Mexico on the Day of the Dead, “people build altars to their loved ones . . . they go to the cemetery and stay all night, praying, singing, drinking, wailing. They tell the sad stories and the noble ones; they eat cookies shaped like skeletons. They celebrate and mourn at once.” Striking that balance, The Glen Rock Book of ...more
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published November 1st 2008 by Counterpoint
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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Jan 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those finds that I think bookstores and conversation are one of the few ways one could decide upon reading it. Its the quick glance inside that gets you and nails you to the wall. I wasn't even looking for this book. That's generally the way it happens when you find a great bookstore, you leave with your arms weighed down and your pocketbook vanquished. Something pushed it into my hands off the 'Rebecca Reccomends' shelf of Greenlight Bookstore in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn. I read Wini ...more
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle, 2019
Every chapter is a tiny little vignette about a person that Marion Winik knew who is now dead. Sometimes it's a close friend or relation, other times it's the town dentist. Some of these little stories hit me hard and others felt like a throw away page....and after reading a dozen they all started to blur together. This book is only 96 pages so you can read them all in one sitting but that doesn't do any of them justice. The fact that I can't remember these people lease me a little sadder than w ...more
Seth Sawyers
Jun 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Clever little book. Clever idea (one short chapter each for each person she's known who's died) and not macabre at all. In fact, it's alive. She's especially good at describing each person very quickly--in 30 or 50 words. In and out. And she picks nice moments to dramatize. I think that beginning creative nonfiction students could learn a lot from this on how to bring characters to life, quickly, on the page. Also, how to write a short, short essay about a person, with a point. Read this in abou ...more
I read Marion Winik's The Baltimore Book of the Dead last year and loved it. Loved the two-page essays of people I knew and people I didn't know who had touched Marion Winik's life before they passed away. For some reason, maybe multiple reasons, this book of two-page essays of people I didn't know hit me hard. Maybe it's the mounting ever-present fear of the coronavirus. Maybe it's the political events of this week and/or this year. Maybe it's the loss of my dad that I still haven't come to ter ...more
Aug 11, 2011 rated it liked it
I like the concept of this book--writing short essays about people the author met who had died. The essays were beautifully written. But you couldn't read too many at once or they all started to blend together. You had to read this book slowly, a few essays at a time. ...more
Apr 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Hampton Cade
Recommended to Tiffany by: Jane McCafferty
Shelves: non-fiction
Wonderful book; great for reading slowly or in one go. I use "The Realtor" as an example of masterful exposition in my creative writing classes. ...more
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
This series of portraits of people Winik has known or who touched her life in some way, and who have died, is beautifully written. She names these people with labels: The Showgirl (her step-grandmother), The Skater (her first husband), The Bad Influence (a friend of her son's), The Driving Instructor (her father), The Big Sister. Thus we are presented with archetypes who are at once marvelously specific, described with crystalline details. There is nothing maudlin about it. There is even a beaut ...more
Megan Stolz
Nov 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
First of all, this is such a beautiful book. I love the design inside and out. The concept is also wonderful -- a page and a half or so honoring each of the deaths in Marion Winik's life. The writing is heartfelt with undertones of humor and sadness. ...more
Apr 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Short, sweet, brief, deep in all the right ways.
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love how I got to know the author and her deceased associates. Really short, sweet, profound sentiments.
Jamie Hughes
Apr 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Lovely work similar to "Spoon River Anthology." Some of the best pieces are about the folks who were only in her life for a short period of time. It was as if the distance gave her greater perspective and allowed her to write beautiful prose. The pieces about her loved ones were too close, like she was trying to make me love them rather than simply letting me see them as they were and making up my own mind.

There are several that will break your heart in two and leave you lingering over the deta
Nancy Stevenson
Sep 04, 2016 rated it liked it
3.75 stars. The book consists of 2- or 3-page stories, each about someone's death, like a contemporary Spoon River Anthology. Some of these vignettes are perfect gems; others aren't as clear. The book is not involving in a large sense since each little story is separate, but some of them involve different family members that build on each other. I'm glad I read the book, but am also glad it was short. ...more
Nov 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My initial reaction is to call this book a short, fun, and playful read. But a book filled with obituaries of people Marion Winik has known is not fun or playful, right? She did right by these people and has laid them to rest in these obituaries.
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Winik does an incredible job of telling her story through the deaths of those she knew in one way or another. A creative way to set up a memoir. The nicknames she gives her "characters" makes it easy to follow her intertwining stories. ...more
Gerry LaFemina
Jul 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Micro essays about dead people that sometimes almost feel like a bus load of prose poems collided into a classroom full of obituaries, this book is a delight in small doses (I want to use some of these in the classroom!), but read straight through they get a bit monotonous, particularly in tone.
Anthony Moll
Jul 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Still Winik's best work. A total pleasure and an absolute heartbreak to read. ...more
Erica Meadows
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I heard about this book through my book club. Marion Winik lives in our neighborhood and apparently attended one of the book club meetings to read some excerpts from one of her books recently (alas, it was before I joined) . So I went on a slight Winik binge and bought all of her books and whizzed through them. This one is interesting, it is very short essays (vignettes?) only a page per subject...of all of the people she has known who have died. Some are close relatives, but others are classmat ...more
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brettlikesbooks
tiny snapshots from the lives—and deaths—of people connected, however tenuously or deeply personally, to the author + mundane moments made fascinating, the harrowing faced head-on + poignant, wry, honest
“It-was-his-time-he-is-at-peace-he-is-free-from-pain-at-last. Who wants to hear these things? I’d rather take the whole last few years of his life, the addiction, the sickness, the breakup, crumple them up and hide them like a paper full of mistakes you don’t want anyone to see. I miss him mor
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Haunting and though provoking

The unusual format of this book, appropriately 2-3 pages about individuals whose death the author remembers, ranging from an eye doctor when she was 10 to her first husband and first child. I think it’s a book that will stay with me and require rereading. Her new book in the same format is Baltimore Book of the Dead, which I heard Ann Patchett review on NPR
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised that the entries were so short, a small page or two about each person. I was also surprised that someone would know so many people who died from AIDS or from drugs. The book started out slowly for me but, as it went on, the stories became interconnected and more powerful. It made me think about all the people who have touched my life and who have died. I think I would like to read this book again in the near future. I think I might appreciate it more on a second go.
Maren Orchard
Sep 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
"I don't know how the hell we go on, knowing what we know," is both the sentence which summarized this book and my new tagline for the year. Painful, funny, and devastating, Winik tells us it was a beautiful writing experience to sit with these memories—that if we can't remember with as much joy as there is pain, then we would simply be unable to go on. Grateful to have read this book in 2020, to be reminded that we have to remember lost loves with joy. ...more
Blue Cypress Books
Nov 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Not to take anything at all away from this collection, but I'd read Winik's 'Baltimore Book of the Dead" years ago and found it to be a work of genius. Because I'm a woman of a certain age, the people of Glen Rock seemed more real as I've also known the loss of these big and small lives. Winik's circle in "Glen Rock" wasn't lesser in any way, just younger, in both the lost lives and Winik's own perspective. ...more
Denise Mast
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Winik does an unusual march through her life doing a small tribute to all those who impacted her life in her small town of Glen Rock, PA.

This book was well written and enjoyable, though a bit dark in that all you begin to read about made the book because they died. It made me reflect on how blessed I have been to not have more grief in my life.
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marion Winik says a great deal in two pages, the typical length of the essays in this potent and incisive collection. Each piece describes someone whom Winik knew who has died, and she selects the details with a care that, collectively, tells us as much about her as it does about the subjects themselves.

A small gem of a book.
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
You'd think this would be the perfect book for me. Short little 2 page obituaries of people who were in her life. In between these short obits you learn bits and pieces of the authors life - her drug use, marriage to a gay man, and other information about her family - but not enough to know what happened in her life. How these people touched her life, I have no idea. ...more
Apr 17, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-kindle
This one was recommended by Cheryl Strayed on her podcast. It definitely reads in the style of Strayed’s advice columns.

Poignant and short stories about people the author knew who died. Each person is celebrated for the intricate details of their life and personalities.
Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
This seems like a series of writing exercises...pretty good ones.
Lonni Tanner
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Can a book of portraits of family, friends and lovers who died make for good reading? I'm dying to say this: "YES! ...more
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So, so good.
Mazie Lynn
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, 2018, non-fiction
There is so much life packed into this book about death. I marveled over and over at Winik's ability to craft such breadth and depth into so few words. ...more
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Longtime All Things Considered commentator Marion Winik is the author of First Comes Love, The Glen Rock Book of the Dead and seven other books. The Baltimore Book of the Dead is forthcoming from Counterpoint this fall. Her award-winning column on appears monthly, and her essays have been published in The New York Times Magazine, The Sun and elsewhere. She is the host of The ...more

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