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The Book of Resting Places

A Personal History of Where We Lay the Dead

List Price: $26.00

November 14, 2017 | Hardcover | 5.5 x 8.25, 208 pages | ISBN 9781619021235
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 The Book of Resting Places is Mira y Lopez’s account of his travels, from a cemetery to a crematorium to a cryonics company . . . He’s looking for the good death, somewhere, anywhere.” —The New Yorker

In the aftermath of his father’s untimely death and his family’s indecision over what to do with the remains, Thomas Mira y Lopez became obsessed with the type and variety of places where we lay the dead to rest. The result is a singular collection of essays that weaves together history, mythology, journalism, and personal narrative into the author’s search for a place to process grief.

Mira y Lopez explores unusual hallowed grounds—from the world’s largest cryonics institute in southern Arizona to a set of Roman catacombs being digested by modern bacteria, to his family’s burial plots in the mountains outside Rio de Janeiro to a nineteenth-century desert cemetery that was relocated for the building of a modern courthouse. The Book of Resting Places examines these overlooked spaces and what they tell us about ourselves and the passing of those we love—how we grieve them, and how we attempt to forget them.

About Thomas Mira y Lopez
THOMAS MIRA Y LOPEZ is from New York City. He earned an M.F.A. in creative nonfiction from the University of Arizona, and his work has appeared in The Georgia Review, Kenyon Review Online, and The Normal School, among other publications. He currently lives in North Carolina, where he is the 2017–2018 Kenan Visiting Writer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Praise

“Mira y Lopez . . . is a gifted writer. His ear for language and his ability to take ownership of ideas by finding the poetry in them . . . is the kind of thing that cannot be taught . . . It’s refreshing to encounter a young writer who’s chosen to do some fieldwork.” —The New York Times Book Review

The Book of Resting Places is Mira y Lopez’s account of his travels, from a cemetery to a crematorium to a cryonics company . . . He’s looking for the good death, somewhere, anywhere.” —The New Yorker

“Thomas Mira y Lopez’s debut essay collection is a finely wrought exploration of grief, mythology, history, and global death practices . . . Mira y Lopez travels far and wide . . . in search of answers.” —The Guardian

“A heartfelt and personal exploration of hallowed grounds—and the history and mythology surrounding them—inspired by the sudden death of Mira y Lopez’s father.” —BuzzFeed

“It is a true pleasure to engage with a book like Thomas Mira y Lopez’s . . . Coupled with his keen eye for observation and a fascinating breadth of subject matter, The Book of Resting Places becomes a refreshingly honest and critical look at death, grieving, and how burial becomes our means to remembering, and forgetting, those we’ve lost.” —The East Bay Review

“It’s a surprisingly quirky book; Mira y Lopez is honest about grief and his own imperfections, and this coherent collection of personal essays ranges from sad to downright funny.” —Triangle.com

“A monumental collection . . . For all the studied excavations bound up in The Book of Resting Places, the people remembered in its pages, those passed and still with us, remain glowing torchbearers for the living.” —Full Stop

“In this insightful collection of personal essays, Lopez proves a poetic, thoughtful, and at times surprisingly funny narrator in his quest for the most meaningful way to remember the dead . . . Lopez’s contemplation of mortality and memory makes for a collection of quietly profound essays.” —Publishers Weekly

“At one point in this debut, a researcher compares excavation to arranging a tapestry—an apt analogy for Mira y Lopez’s essay collection itself . . . Each chapter alternates—or weaves—between his personal experience and history, myth, and societal practice.” —Booklist

The Book of Resting Places is admirable for the restlessness and fierceness of its need to work through both its own elegy and the nature of elegies in general. From defunct cemeteries to Canaletto’s genius for turning presence to absence to those museums of the self assembled by collectors or hoarders to the nature of parallax to cryonics, it’s wryly deft in its associative deployment of useful metaphors in its attempt to come to terms with loss, and shame: what is the safest way to preserve the dead, and to acknowledge the love we sometimes failed to reciprocate?” —Jim Shepard, author of The World to Come and The Book of Aron

“Each place in The Book of Resting Places is haunted. But the deeper we go into Thomas Mira y Lopez’s MC Escher painting of a collection, the more we realize that perhaps it is us, not the dead, who haunt the past. An excellent meditation on his father’s death and his mother’s preparations for her own, this book’s loneliness is more than matched by its curiosity and its beauty.” —Ander Monson, author of Vanishing Point

“Mira y Lopez is a stunning writer and his debut book, a tender and adventurous exploration of the intimate distances we share with the dead, deserves to be widely read. Artful sentences mirror, page after page, his artful mind. With formal intelligence and quiet wit, he has found death to be a spur to reflection and wholehearted embrace of life. This is a book to savor.” —Alison Hawthorne Deming, author of Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit

 

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