The story of my life is bound up in the story of my parents, their life in the cemetery.
Described as macabre and lyrical, Rachael Hanel’s memoir is about life, death, cemeteries and her father’s unexpected and timely death.
When Rachael was young, her father Paul began a career as a gravedigger. While talking about her father she writes about how he’d grown up as one of 14 children. Her grandparents worked hard just to feed their children. College and eventual careers weren’t in the equation. While his siblings found jobs, Paul build a career. As Rachael put it:
A career brings enjoyment, is closely intertwined with identity; it’s who you are. It’s not easy to separate career and life, whereas job and life have clear deliniations.”
While he took his responsibility to the dead and their loved ones seriously, Paul’s sense of humor showed in his business’ tag line: We’ll be the last ones to let you down. Rachael recalls him putting that tag on tons of promotional items. As a marketer, that makes me very happy.
Once her dad embarked on his career, death and cemeteries became a part of him, his life and his family’s lives. After spending countless hours riding her bike through the cemetery as her parents worked, she became very fascinated with macabre books of all kinds–true crime, ghosts and the like. She spent hours finding books in the library and devouring them and asking her mom to tell and retell stories about the deaths of their county’s citizens.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Writing a memoir is a popular thing right now. To be successful, the book has to be compelling and Hanel’s is–from her lifelong fascination with the macabre to her ability address the philosophical issues of death:
Some say we can’t see time, that it’s an invisible fourth dimension. But we can see its evidence–the gears of a clock, the swing of a pendulum, the aging of a face.
Writing 4 out of 5 stars
Storytelling 4 out of 5 stars
Cultural Impact 3 out of 5 stars
Total 3.67 stars
What’s your favorite macabre story?