Tag Archives: death

Wildlife removal

Something — a rabbit, it turned out — died underneath my porch. We could smell it but we couldn’t see it. Some people wouldn’t mind handling this themselves, but none of those people are me, so I called AAAC Wildlife Removal. The guy got out of his truck, sniffed around the porch, looked me right in the eye and said, “You never get used to the smell of death.” That alone was worth the price.

Tagged , ,

Amie Wilkinson’s commencement speech

You want a good commencement speech?  This is a good commencement speech.  From Amie Wilkinson, at the Berkeley math department graduation ceremony.

The only way to begin is to start.

So let’s start with death. From today onward you will die a little death every time you bother to notice it. By this I mean a death of possibilities. Imagine a tree with many branches, directed into the future. Each is a potential future, a life path. Up until now, you’ve probably been climbing the large trunk of this tree, following what seems the natural path, ignoring some smaller branches along the way. Looking up, the tree has always been lush, dense and even impenetrable, rich with potential.

Click here to read the whole thing (pdf)

Tagged ,

RIP Miles “Teddywedger” Allen

Miles Allen, founder and proprietor of Myles Teddywedger at the top of State Street, died Friday of cancer.  No word yet on whether the Cornish pasty emporium will keep operating.  If not, it’s a real loss — no one else on Capitol Square really rivaled MT for a cheap, satisfying, almost instant meal.

Tagged , , ,

In which CJ is goth

CJ was on the phone with my mom for about fifteen minutes today. They were talking about my late grandfather, my mom’s dad, from whom CJ takes his middle name.

I wasn’t sure how much CJ had understood, so after the conversation I asked him what he and his grandma had been talking about.

“About people and how they’re dead!”

Tagged ,

Influenza Body Count

I’m in Slate today explaining how the CDC estimates the number of people who die of flu each year.  It’s a much more interesting and difficult task than I’d realized —  at bottom, because most people who die of the flu don’t have the flu when they die.

Tagged , , , ,

David Foster Wallace is dead

A suicide.

There’s not much I can add to the sickening fact — except to say that if you never read his books, you might as well use this sad occasion to move yourself to get around to it. The essay collection A Supposedly Funny Thing I’ll Never Do Again would be a better place to start than the huge Infinite Jest. Here’s what I wrote in the Boston Phoenix about ASFTINDA.

It was only in 9th or 10th grade that I started to understand there was such a thing as contemporary fiction, with the corollary that writing new things in new ways was an option for a living person like me. Two of my heroes, Raymond Carver and Donald Barthelme, I learned about from my creative writing teacher. Wallace, the third, was my favorite, because I discovered him myself. Like Carver and Barthelme, he is impossible to imitate, even slightly, without sounding false. But every paragraph I write owes something to him.

One thing I learned from Wallace was that a story could have a joke on every page and be very, very serious.

Via MetaFilter, Wallace’s remarkable 2005 commencement address at Kenyon College.

Tom interviewed Wallace for the Phoenix in 1998.

Wallace’s very short “Incarnations of Burned Children” is readable online at Esquire, but is not for the weak. You might cry. (Even if you’re strong.) Even more relentless, and longer, which is part of its relentlessness, is “The Depressed Person,” which you can read online if you subscribe to Harper’s.

But his writing, in general, wasn’t brutal and relentless. It was funny, rather easy-going, observant and wise — even when it was about the impossible struggle to be a human being and not a glib self-presentation, or a drug addiction, or a complicated language game. He was our Trollope, not our Kafka. I thought he’d die in bed at eighty.

Tagged , , ,
%d bloggers like this: