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In Lieu of Flowers: a Conversation for the Living

by Cobb, Nancy

  • ISBN: 9780375403415
  • ISBN10: 0375403418

In Lieu of Flowers: a Conversation for the Living

by Cobb, Nancy

  • List Price: $19.95
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Pantheon Books
  • Publish date: 12/01/2001
  • ISBN: 9780375403415
  • ISBN10: 0375403418
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Description: One of our greatest preoccupations is something nobody wants to mention: death. Nancy Cobb does. The former actress and public radio host has found a way to talk about death in a manner that infuses this darkest subject with lightness and with wit. She has had to; in succession, her father committed suicide, her mother lost a 5 year battle with Alzheimer's disease, and her good friend succumbed to cancer. Focusing on death could make for a maudlin or punishing book. Instead, In Lieu of Flowers is direct and practical, a straightforward examination of mortality filled with such candor and good sense that it becomes a subject to conjure with rather than one to shrink from.

Cobb's own experiences are a point of departure for what amounts to a dinner table conversation about loss. She shares moments of her own mourning: she takes us on a car ride with her mother, once an avid reader, who now struggles to sound out traffic signs; the day her father jumps off a Florida balcony, Cobb is across the country in his favorite city -- San Francisco, when her friend refuses to acknowledge her impending death, even on her deathbed, Cobb writes her a letter asking the friend to allow loved ones a chance to say goodbye. Plenty of other people join Cobb's conversation -- from a bank teller who still dreams of her grandmother, to a masseuse who remembers those she has lost as she manipulates living bodies. There is nothing unctuous about these stories; Nancy treats the experiences of a juvenile diabetic exactly as she would have us addressing our own everyday grief -- naturally and pragmatically. Through the stories of others, Cobb talks candidly to you and me.

In Lieu of Flowers teaches us what wecan do when we don't know what to say. For most of us, death means tears, condolence cards, and flowers, re-warmed meals and memorial services, but these ceremonial offerings neither nurture the living nor adequately remember the dead. In Lieu of Flowers offers a simple alternative: the time and space for talking about and engaging with death. Cobb talks for a living, but she writes a tremendous conversation. Here is a memoir that transcends the genre, an extraordinary treatment of experiences each one of us encounters and confronts.

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