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The Big Book of the Dead

List Price: $16.95

September 17, 2019 | Paperback | 4.25 x 7.0, 320 pages | ISBN 9781640092532
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Marion Wink is esteemed for bringing humor and wit to that most unavoidable of subjects: death. At last, Winik’s critically acclaimed, cult favorites Glen Rock and Baltimore Book of the Dead have been carefully combined in their proper order, revealing more clearly than ever before the character hidden throughout these stories: Winik herself.

In The Big Book of the Dead, Winik arranges her arresting portraits of the dead chronologically, spanning “Friends of My Youth, Mostly in New Jersey 1958-1978,” “The Austin Years, Including New Orleans 1977-2009,” “We Were Ten Years in Pennsylvania 1999-2009,” and “Love in the Time of Baltimore 2009-2018.” Featuring twelve additional vignettes—including remembrances of the victims of the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting and Philip Roth—along with a brand new introduction, The Big Book of the Dead continues Winik’s work as an empathic chronicler of life.

About Marion Winik

MARION WINIK is the author of First Comes LoveThe Baltimore Book of the Dead and eight other books. She writes the Bohemian Rhapsody column at, and is the host of Baltimore WYPR’s The Weekly Reader. She reviews books for NewsdayPeople, and Kirkus Reviews and teaches in the MFA program at the University of Baltimore.


Praise for The Baltimore Book of the Dead

“An affecting collection of brief, incisive portraits of departed figures both public and private.” —People

“A welcome salve to all of us, and encouragement to honor the people we’ve lost who are forever with us.”—

“Every observation is a marvel, every sentence a heartbreak or a revelation of joy.” —Ann Patchett, author of Commonwealth

“Spending time with dead people might make you wonder: Do I want to take this trip? You do, when Winik is telling the stories, two-page hits that read like flash nonfiction, highlight reels of what these people have meant to her, and sometimes to American culture, over the past 60 years.” —Nancy Rommelmann, Newsday

“More achingly beautiful and succinct obituaries of the people (and a few pets) from Winik’s wide, idiosyncratic circle of family, friends, colleagues, lovers, and enemies. This superfast read will spur rereading and the terrible wish that more people in Winik’s circle would expire just so she could memorialize them.” —Library Journal, Editors’ Pick

“In writing about these dozens of deaths, the author is writing about life in general, how quickly it can change and how long a memory can persist, and her life in particular, ‘how big ideas about art and revolution were so easily infected with the stupid romance of self-destruction’ . . . Insightful pieces with a cumulative impact.” —Kirkus Reviews

“[An] unconventional though captivating blend of memoir and biography . . . Throughout these understated portraits, Winik writes with a delightfully light and nuanced hand.” —Publishers Weekly

“You’ll want to read The Baltimore Book of the Dead as slowly as possible because every observation is a marvel, every sentence a heartbreak or a revelation of joy. This book is both brief and miraculous, and it will be finished before you’re ready to let it go. Like life.” —Ann Patchett, author of Commonwealth

“This slim, deeply moving book is full of elegies that bear witness to the departed and remind us of the beauty and pain and complexity in every life, no matter how obscure. Marion Winik’s prose is deceptively rich, suffused with quiet emotion and tender humor. She teaches us how to remember.” —Tom Perrotta, author of The Leftovers and Mrs. Fletcher

“Marion Winik’s writing is always a wild and true marvel and never more so than in her latest work, The Baltimore Book of the Dead. With riveting compassion, she looks at all the love and the pain and the detritus that accumulates in the corners of all of our lives and pieces together something sad and lovely and new out of it.” —Bill Clegg, author of Did You Ever Have a Family

“Marion Winik is such an excellent writer that you will want to gobble up The Baltimore Book of the Dead, but you won’t. After each chapter, you will pause and take a breath. You will have experienced the life and death of a stranger made friend, made familiar, through Winik’s compassionate genius. Savor every word.” —Abigail Thomas, author of What Comes Next and How to Like It

Praise for The Glen Rock Book of the Dead

“Few among us, when we die, will be lucky enough to be eulogized as intriguingly as the individuals in Marion Winik’s The Glen Rock Book of the Dead.” —Susan Carpenter, Los Angeles Times

“Bold and funny, Winik is the queen of pithiness and punch, and the micro-lives she has created here are far more difficult to forge than their brevity and blithe tone might suggest.” —Booklist

“I read this book in one sitting. It’s so beautiful, sad, interesting, funny, and true that I simply could not put it down. This is one cool book. Each chapter is about a dead person the author knew. The chapters are short and intense and riveting and beautifully written. Winik has many gifts as a writer, but one I appreciate the most is her ability to write about the hardest, darkest subjects with a light, knowing hand. Situations are bleak, but life is not. Life is hard and hilarious and good and complex and often, entirely inexplicable. Winik shows us that in this book. I love The Glen Rock Book of the Dead. I think you will too.” —Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

Spoon River Anthology as told by a female Jack Kerouac.” —This Week’s Book

“Although she’s known many people who died young, in sad or unsavory ways, the book is uplifting, funny and deep. This is partly because Winik resists the temptation to be overly reverent or poetic, though there are plenty of graceful passages. Her fascinating, tiny tributes tell the bare-assed truth about relationships while coming together to create a portrait of Winik’s own imperfect, love-filled life.” —Marcia Menter, More

“Winik offers memoir, prose and warmth – expressed with precise evocative details.” —Diane Scharper, Baltimore Sun

The Glen Rock Book of the Dead is a quiet tour de force from former Austinite Marion Winik.” —Mike Shea, Texas Monthly

“I only hope that Winik will continue to write, and share her insightful stories with the world. If that requires her to use a sixth sense, talk to dead people, reminisce old times, I won’t be one to judge.” —Jess Krout, Hanover Evening Sun

“Few among us, when we die, will be lucky enough to be eulogized as intriguingly as the individuals in Marion Winik’s The Glen Rock Book of the Dead. The slender and elegantly illustrated volume chronicles the stories of some 50 individuals the author once knew, compressing their lives and personal significance into brief, two-page essays. The eighth book from this critically acclaimed writer and poet is a sort of modern-day version of Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology – the almost century-old classic that told the tale of a town in the voices of its deceased.” —Susan Carpenter, The Los Angeles Times

“The truth, so tragic and so exhilarating, is the gift Marion Winik offers up with honesty and compassion in this incomparable book.” —Harvey Freedenberg, Harrisburg Patriot-News‘s Sunday magazine

“If you have read First Comes Love—Winik’s memoir about her marriage to a gay man and his death from AIDS—you may imagine what you are in for: equal parts laceration and exhilaration, 100% brilliance. To say there has never been a book like this doesn’t begin to get at my admiration for what Winik does here—I’m dazzled by the highwire act of her writing, her willingness to go deep and then go deeper, and her immense wisdom about life . . . If you have the guts to read this book—easily the most powerful document I’ve read in years—you will almost surely make your own list of the lost. You can’t not. The Glen Rock Book of the Dead is that haunting, that beautiful, that necessary.” —Jesse Kornbluth,

“Much of literature is elegiac in nature. Much of Winik’s propulsive, come-clean writing has been about coping with loss. So it makes sense that her newest essay collection comprises tributes to her dead . . . Bold and funny, Winik is the queen of pithiness and punch, and the micro-lives she has created here are far more difficult to forge than their brevity and blithe tone might suggest.” —Donna Seaman, Booklist

“Alongside the numerous deaths from AIDS and the poignant lament that there are no gay couples of Winik’s generation, there is a house ravaged by Katrina, a soldier lost in Iraq, the World Trade Center, Winik imbuing each departed with a dignity and grace everyone deserves in death but might not have had in life . . . Death comes, they say, like a thief in the night. It comes for all of us; if we’re lucky, there is a Marion Winik in our lives to document who we were and what we meant as we cool our heels in the VIP lounge of the afterlife. We all deserve it, and, as evidenced by this book, no one knows that more keenly than Marion Winik.” —Melanie Haupt, Austin Chronicle

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