Death: An Oral History

Death: An Oral HistoryDeath: An Oral History by Casey Jarman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The spectrum of people who are interviewed in this book is impressive. They range from someone who’s researching composting humans to a former death row warden who has become an anti-death penalty advocate. Particularly fascinating to me were the talk with a hospice volunteer who doesn’t shy from discussing the deaths of strangers and the interview of philosopher Simon Critchley, who has so many interesting things to say that I’m going to track down his books.

The interview with the woman who wants to start a psychedelic hospice, where the dying can trip out as they come to terms with their mortality, was really intriguing, but unfortunately short on details. A pipe dream, you might say.

Some of the pieces where people face their grief are wrenching to read. Some of the interviews drift far from death, particularly the talk with Art Spiegelman, which ends up being more about life as a cartoonist when I wanted to hear about his experiences facing death on psychedelics. Others grow repetitive and, for my taste, those could have been shortened. I have to admit I skimmed in places.

Full disclosure: Casey interviewed me for the book in August 2015. I wasn’t paid for the interview and had to buy my own copy of the book, but I’m glad I did. It contains much food for thought.

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About Loren Rhoads

I'm the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel, as well as a space opera trilogy. I'm also co-author of a series about a succubus and her angel. In addition to blogging at, I blog about my morbid life at
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