The Inevitable by David Shields
Contemporary Writers Confront Death

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What is death and how does it touch upon life? Twenty writers look for answers.

Birth is not inevitable. Life certainly isn't. The sole inevitability of existence, the only sure consequence of being alive, is death. In these eloquent and surprising essays, twenty writers face this fact, among them Geoff Dyer, who describes the ghost bikes memorializing those who die in biking accidents; Jonathan Safran Foer, proposing a new way of punctuating dialogue in the face of a family history of heart attacks and decimation by the Holocaust; Mark Doty, whose reflections on the art-porn movie Bijou lead to a meditation on the intersection of sex and death epitomized by the AIDS epidemic; and Joyce Carol Oates, who writes about the loss of her husband and faces her own mortality. Other contributors include Annie Dillard, Diane Ackerman, Peter Straub, and Brenda Hillman.

About David Shields

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Bradford Morrow's novels include The Diviner's Tale, Giovanni's Gift, and Trinity Fields, and co-edited with David Shields The Inevitable: Contemporary Writers Confront Death. The recipient of numerous awards, he founded and edits the literary journal Conjunctions and is a professor of literature at Bard College. He lives in New York City.
Published February 21, 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company. 337 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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In it, the author finds beauty in the way that maggots and blowflies are part of the cycle of birth, death and the re-creation of life by feeding on decomposed matter: “a piece from here and a fleck from there, a taste of this karma, a speck of that memory, this carbon atom, that bit of water, a ...

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BC Books

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Her book, A Widow's Story: A Memoir, (perhaps the source of this essay) is a more comprehensive story of her experience (if the word comprehensive can be used to describe something as unbounded as grief), and this essay certainly piqued my interest in it.

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Spirituality & Practice

Better we should heed the wise words of Etty Hillesum who said: "It sounds paradoxical: by excluding death from our life, we cannot live a full life, and by admitting death in our life, we enlarge and enrich it."

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