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Killer prose

Published by The Economist on Wed, 31 Dec 2014


The Undertaker's Daughter. By Kate Mayfield. Gallery Books; 350 pages; $24.99. Simon & Schuster; 12.99. Buy from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk'WE'VE got a body.' Raised above her family's funeral home in a small Kentucky town, Kate Mayfield knew the phrase that inevitably followed whenever the phone rang. 'The Undertaker's Daughter', her memoir, lures the reader in with a behind-the-scenes view of man's final act. She recounts the forbidden thrill of touching a dead body for the first time; her revulsion at the embalming room; a bit of the biology of decomposing organs; and plenty of keen observation on people showing their true colours after their loved ones die.Mimicking the unpredictable interjections of death that punctuated her childhood, she interrupts her chronological narrative with a series of 'in memoriam' vignettes about the town's deceased, ranging from a man with such poor hygiene...Continue reading
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