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The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of…

by Marilyn Johnson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7262523,367 (3.62)27
Obituaries are history as it is happening. Whose time am I living in? Was he a success or a failure, lucky or doomed, older than I am or younger? Did she know how to live? Where else can you celebrate the life of the pharmacist who moonlighted as a spy, the genius behind Sea Monkeys, the school lunch lady who spent her evenings as a ballroom hostess? No wonder so many readers skip the news and the sports and go directly to the obituary page. This book is the story of how these stories get told. Enthralled by the fascinating lives that were marching out of this world, Marilyn Johnson tumbled into the obits page to find out what made it so lively. She sought out the best obits in the English language and chased the people who spent their lives writing about the dead.--From publisher description.… (more)
  1. 10
    The Economist Book of Obituaries by Keith Colquhoun (themockturtle)
    themockturtle: This book is a collection of some of the most original, in depth and interesting obituaries being published today. It reads a bit like an encyclopedia with notable events and discoveries, recent history itself even, distilled by way of the people (and parrots) who lived it, but who do so no more.… (more)
  2. 00
    Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov (themockturtle)
    themockturtle: This whimsical novel features a short story author turned obituarist. During the course of his employment, during which he is to write the future obituaries of notable people, he finds that the subjects of his "obelisk jobs" have a tendency to turn up dead. It is an interesting glimpse into both a dreary occupation and life in post-Soviet Union Ukraine.… (more)
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» See also 27 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Ooh, do I still have this? I'd like to reread it after Heather Lende's enjoyable "If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name."
  Laurelyn | Oct 20, 2017 |
I got this book for Christmas from my husband and it's a good book ... if you're a "newsy" person who is interested in journalism and obits --- it's not as morbid as it sounds. But, as a reporter and editor (my husband is, too), we were naturally drawn to this book and enjoyed it. It may not be for everyone, though ... ( )
  DBrigandi | Jul 3, 2017 |
I got this book for Christmas from my husband and it's a good book ... if you're a "newsy" person who is interested in journalism and obits --- it's not as morbid as it sounds. But, as a reporter and editor (my husband is, too), we were naturally drawn to this book and enjoyed it. It may not be for everyone, though ... ( )
  DBrigandi | Jul 3, 2017 |
The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries by by Marilyn Johnson is a book I picked up from the library by chance. I am a nurse and one of the odd habit nurses have is looking at obituaries, weird, I know. We check to see if we know anyone we helped, especially if working in a nursing home recently or part time. Odd habit but apparently others have it too. Well this book shows the strange obits out there, the different styles of writing obits from different parts of the world, different styles from various writers of obits, unusual lives of those departed, and strange timing of deaths of multiple people. Some places in the book was a bit dry but for the most part it was very interesting and ...well, I was going to say 'full of life' but that would be inappropriate now wouldn't it? Very interesting anyway. Enjoyed the book greatly. ( )
1 vote MontzaleeW | Dec 28, 2016 |
This book was a wonderful break from all the War World 2 stuff I have been reading lately. It is funny, touching, and gets into what we humans are really like, morbid. Johnson really gets into the history of obits, the current standards for them, and what in recent years has changed about them. She goes to a convention for obit writers and travels the world to meet the most famous ones living. I had so much fun with this book and I got to be morbid at the same time as learning something new. Very full of win. One note about the physical book itself, it is long and thing like obituaries in the newspaper really are. I like that touch; making the book like what it is written about.

I give this book a Five out of Five stars. ( )
1 vote lrainey | May 10, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
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People have been slipping out of this world in occupational clusters, I've noticed, for years.
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Obituaries are history as it is happening. Whose time am I living in? Was he a success or a failure, lucky or doomed, older than I am or younger? Did she know how to live? Where else can you celebrate the life of the pharmacist who moonlighted as a spy, the genius behind Sea Monkeys, the school lunch lady who spent her evenings as a ballroom hostess? No wonder so many readers skip the news and the sports and go directly to the obituary page. This book is the story of how these stories get told. Enthralled by the fascinating lives that were marching out of this world, Marilyn Johnson tumbled into the obits page to find out what made it so lively. She sought out the best obits in the English language and chased the people who spent their lives writing about the dead.--From publisher description.

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