Register Wednesday | February 28 | 2024

The Book Room

Reviewing titles from Julia Cooper, Pasha Malla, Phoebe Wang, Catherine Owen and Guy Delisle

“Death is what gives life its impetus, its very breath,” writes Julia Cooper in The Last Word (Coach House), a long essay on the eulogy. Even readers who are stubbornly opposed to this idea—who feel grateful for every meal and every turn of the season, not needing mortality’s seasoning—will see her point. As Cooper meticulously works through texts concerning grief and mourning, she points out cultural moments that suit the magnitude of death and loss—Beyoncé featuring the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner on her visual album Lemonade, for example—and she skewers the moments that fall short, calling out, in particular, the half-life of hashtag mourning after celebrities die. She also posits that death offers opportunities to affirm or deny belonging—England reclaimed its fallen, foreign-dating Princess Diana as they mourned her, for example, whereas America underscored the foreign allegiances of the ...

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