The Baltimore Book of the Dead Review

The Baltimore Book of the Dead by Marion Winik
Published: 10/9/18
Pages: 160
Approaching mourning and memory with intimacy, humor, and an eye for the idiosyncratic, the story starts in the 1960s in Marion Winik's native New Jersey, winds through Austin, Texas, and rural Pennsylvania, and finally settles in her current home of Baltimore. 

Winik begins with a portrait of her mother, the Alpha, introducing locales and language around which other stories will orbit: the power of family, home, and love; the pain of loss and the tenderness of nostalgia; the backdrop of nature and public events. From there, she goes on to create a highly personal panorama of the last half century of American life. Joining the Alpha are the Man Who Could Take Off His Thumb, the Babydaddy, the Warrior Poetess, El Suegro, and the Thin White Duke, not to mention a miniature toy poodle and a goldfish  

Midnight Thoughts

Morbid and moving, grief-filled and gorgeous, this is a tiny book of lovely remembrances.  Each chapter is dedicated to someone (or in a few cases, something) that has passed away.  For such a short page count, the book is packed with weight and substance.  It's not a book you rush through, as each chapter- just a page or two- begs to be read with care and emotion.  Winik has lead a very full life so far, and she's known, and lost, many amazing human beings.  It was hard not to think what my own Book of the Dead would look like.  Would I strive for humor or sadness when talking about those that I have lost.

Winik is coming to the bookstore later this month, but I didn't realize that when I bought the book.  I just liked the title.  I had no idea what the book was about, but the cover called to me.  It's nothing like most of the books I read- the thrillers I fly through, or the YA I devour.  TBBotD made me think, and feel, and Winik's way with words had me snapping pictures of her quotes to remember and treasure later.   I'm so glad I stumbled upon this book, and I can't wait to read her other books- in particular her The Glen Rock Book of the Dead and the book about her first husband, First Comes Love.  And I really need to make time to listen to NPR's All Things Considered (Winik is a frequent commentator).

Midnight Rating