“Why don’t you just die?” Boyd Schaeffer asks her husband, Russell, one night during an argument. The next day, he does just that. Russell was rich, sensitive, charming, but always unreliable—and it is not clear to Boyd what emotional legacy his untimely death has bequeathed her. Now, she and her young daughter embark on a journey of grief, self-reproach, and self-discovery as funny as it is serious, and so profound and surprising that her individual life, in its quiet midwestern setting, takes on the universal lineaments of myth.
With the help of several unconventional companions—as well as her daughter, who offers a child’s instinctive wisdom about life’s mysteries—Boyd begins to understand that endings are often also beginnings, that the Book of Life and Death is constantly being rewritten before our eyes.
About the Author
Carol Muske-Dukes is the author of eight books of poems, four novels, and two essay collections, and is an editor of two anthologies, including "Crossing State Lines: An American Renga", which she coedited with Bob Holman. Many of her books have been New York Times Notable selections. Muske-Dukes is a professor of English and creative writing at the University of Southern California, where she founded the PhD program in creative writing and literature, and she recently fulfilled her appointment as poet laureate of California, appointed by the governor's office. Her poetry collection "Sparrow" was a National Book Award finalist and she is a six-time Pushcart Prize winner. She writes for the "New York Times Book Review "and the "New York Times "op-ed page, the "Los Angeles Times", the Huffington Post, and the "New Yorker"'s "Page-Turner" blog. Her poems have been published and anthologized widely, including in several editions of "Best American Poetry". Muske-Dukes has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Library of Congress award, Barnes & Noble's Writer for Writers Award, and many other honors. She lives in Southern California and New York.
“An aching awareness of mortality...suffuses every scene in Carol Muske-Dukes’ luminous new novel, which turns a tale of sudden loss into an astonishing meditation on love and bereavement.”
“Carol Muske-Dukes’s writing is filled with poignancy and humor, achieved through her understanding of what
it means to encounter death through the peculiar circumstance of being alive.”
“In her passionate novel Life After Death, Carol Muske-Dukes takes us right up against the edge where all lives end. Her prose is stunning, as always; and her fusion of grief and laughter and rage is extraordinary.”
“Daring and full of surprises, this story takes on the big questions and holds them up to the light, examining them, shifting them. We see life after death—and life before death—from many angles. In scenes rendered with crisp, lucid prose, we are given a range of perspectives on being human; some are recognizable and some are entirely new.”