Furnishing Eternity by David Giffels
A Father, a Son, a Coffin, and a Measure of Life

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A varnished, carefully crafted box, a spark of life within: Here’s an obvious yet affecting metaphor for the book itself.
-Star Tribune

Synopsis

“Giffels does well as a voice of the Midwest…but this is for everyone.” —Library Journal

From the acclaimed author of The Hard Way on Purpose, a vibrant, heartfelt memoir about confronting mortality, surviving loss, finding resilience in one’s Midwest roots and seeking a father’s wisdom through an unusual woodworking project—constructing his own coffin.

David Giffels grew up fascinated by his father’s dusty, tool-strewn workshop and the countless creations—some practical, others fantastical—it inspired. So when he enlisted his eighty-one-year-old dad to help him with the unusual project of building his own casket, he thought of it mostly as an opportunity to sharpen his woodworking skills and to spend time together. But life, as it usually does, had other plans.

The unexpected deaths of his mother and, a year later, his best friend, coupled with the dawning realization that his father wouldn’t be around forever for such offbeat adventures—and neither would he—led to a harsh confrontation with mortality and loss.

Over the course of several seasons, Giffels returned to his father’s barn in rural Ohio, a place cluttered with heirloom tools, exotic wood scraps, and long memory, to continue a pursuit that grew into a meditation on grief and optimism, a quest for enlightenment, and a way to cherish time with an aging parent.

With wisdom and humor, Giffels grapples with some of the hardest questions we all face as he and his father saw, hammer, and sand their way through a year bowed by loss. Furnishing Eternity is the story of a family searching for hope in its roots and the unexpected truths we arrive at in the process of creating and constructing.

Heartfelt, unvarnished, and piercing with insight, this powerful memoir is Giffels’s most intimate exploration yet of the values and traditions that illuminate the Midwest.
 

About David Giffels

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David Giffels is an assistant professor of English at the University of Akron, where he teaches creative nonfiction. Formerly an award-winning columnist for the Akron Beacon Journal and a contributing commentator on NPR, his writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine and many other publications. He lives in Akron, Ohio, with his wife and two children.
 
Published January 2, 2018 by Scribner. 257 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Self Help, Parenting & Relationships. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Furnishing Eternity
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Good
on Sep 24 2017

A lifetime’s worth of workbench philosophy in a heartfelt memoir about the connection between a father and son.

Read Full Review of Furnishing Eternity: A Father... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Hamilton Cain on Dec 29 2017

A varnished, carefully crafted box, a spark of life within: Here’s an obvious yet affecting metaphor for the book itself.

Read Full Review of Furnishing Eternity: A Father... | See more reviews from Star Tribune

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Samuel G. Freedman on Dec 22 2017

For better or worse, “Furnishing Eternity” is very much a guys’ book. The emotional center rests on Giffels’s relationships with his father, a retired civil engineer whose life force exerts itself in the workshop, and with his best friend...

Read Full Review of Furnishing Eternity: A Father... | See more reviews from NY Times
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