Sheri Booker’s memoir Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner City Funeral Home chronicles her near-decade long experience immersed the culture of death. Everything from picking up bodies to preserving them in the inner sanctum of Wylie Funeral Home.
In it Booker learns that death knows no age and that a funeral home is every bit a part of a community as a church. She also answers the age-old question of whether bodies move on the embalming table or not.
I’m not prone to fun. I don’t like crowds. I have broad shoulders so I tend to bump into people. I’m not very social. I like to watch movies on my somewhat undersized TV and read books. My wife doesn’t like me^1^. If there’s wet blankets, I’m like the smallpox-infected blankets Jeffery Amherst gave to Native Americans.
But I have fun when I listen to Book Fight: Tough Love for Literature. It’s a podcast for writer’s, though serious readers would dig it too. It’s a podcast about books, but a podcast recorded as if it were cool to talk about books at your favorite bar. It’s profane^2^, curmudgeonly, and just good company.
Tom McCallister, co-host of Book Fight and author of Bury Me in My Jersey: A Memoir of My Father, Football, and Philly, is a friend of sorts, though we’ve never met. We “met” through email when I gave his memoir a 2-star review on Goodreads. He wrote to me about it and I gave him my reasons. He does a great thing in his memoir that has to be applauded: he writes an unflattering picture of himself, which is a lesson unto itself in memoir. I gave it 2 stars because I wanted more of his father in the story and I don’t like footnotes^3^. He’s a great writer, an unpretentious product of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, which says something in and of itself. All in all, if you’re writing memoir, you should read his. His book has 45 ratings on Goodreads, which is a ton (I have 12) and most are 5 stars. Overall it’s a 3.84 stars out of 45 reviews. That gives you an idea that it’s a great book.
Since that first email a few years ago, we’ve kept in touch about sports and writing. Then he started the Book Fight podcast with Mike Ingram, fiction editor at Barrelhouse. It’s a fun listen. I’m listening right now. Naturally, if you’re a geek for the mechanics of prose, subscribe to it on iTunes.
1. Not entirely true. She likes the occasional social interaction where I’d rather stay home and read. 2. Not overly so, tastefully profane, like talking sports at a bar. But not a Philly, New York, or Boston bar. Maybe like a Seattle bar, or an Asheville, NC bar. 3. I have since come around to footnotes. I found them so disruptive to the narrative that I usually can’t continue reading. It’s like reading with the TV on or something. They make for funny tributaries that don’t belong in the main river.
The offer still stands, for a time, that should you subscribe to this website, I’ll send you a personalized copy of Six Weeks in Saratoga. Subscribe, I’ll reach out to you. My thanks to you. If you factor in shipping, that’s a $30-value, if you’re into value plays.