Book Review

My Dead Book by Nate Lippens

breathtaking book on death

cw: death, disease, mental illness, suicide ideation

I read this way back in August and forgot to write about it at the time and then kept putting it off because I wanted to “do justice to” the book, because it’s definitely one of the sharpest, most beautiful, enervating and emotive texts I’ve read this year.

It’s gorgeous, full of small, detached sections discussing death as an idea, deaths that happen and the way people mourn (or fail to mourn), the way people mourn needlessly and the ways in which we – certainly I have – use the inevitability of death as an excuse for never doing anything.

Everything will one day be dust. Why pretend it’s anything else today?

///

I made a lot of notes as I read through the book, because it’s beautiful and there are lots of potent passages throughout.

Denny tells me he never thought he’d own a house, get married, adopt, and yet he has. He never thought he’d see forty. He’s nearing fifty. I hear this the way I have in the past with a shrug of yes obviously, a shrug of yes me too. Except I don’t own a home, I’m not married, I don’t have children, and I’m not yet fifty. I don’t want any of those–house, husband, child–and often I don’t care to see the other side of fifty. This has all been enough. Too much really. The generosity of life’s disappointments has been sufficient.

///

I’m not interested in meditating to empty my mind. I’ve already lived that. I grew up with people who hated thought.

This is a terrifying thing to have to deal with, a fucking nightmare that never ends. Why create life if feeling, if consideration, if thought and ideas are scary to you? I’m saying this as someone who also grew up with people who hated thought, and it is only in my thirties that I’ve been able to accept that I was a fucking idiot to ever try and pretend that was forgiveable.

///

Rudy tells me dying in his sleep has been his fear since he was a kid. Really? After all we’ve seen. Not waking up beats all the other options to me.

This also connected with me.

When I have been at my lowest, I have often woken up livid that I didn’t die in the night, angry with my body for continuing to function and angry with my yesterday self for condemning me to another day.

///

I talked about a guy I’d been dating, and he talked about a man he worked with in the kitchen.

When we lose ourselves, our interest in other people is an early casualty. This line made me conscious of the fact that I have never been so alone, so lonely, that there has been no person in my life for me to talk about except someone from work.

///

Things got bad. I ran out of stories.

This line precedes a section on suicide ideation, and it clicked with me, too, for that – the absence of narrative, the lack of action, of the unexpected, of twists and turns and story – has been a feeling that always exists around my lower moments.

Without a personal story, how do we have a personal self? Without a story, how do we have thought? Without thought, a person is a ghost, an automaton, less than a fucking robot, less than a fucking dog.

I know far too many people (don’t worry, I avoid them) who are less able than my dog to express their wants, needs and opinions.

Thought is communication is interaction is existence.

If you’re not there inside your own head, are you fucking anywhere?

///

If someone says you’re adorable it means they’re never going to fuck you.

Lol. On this one, me and the narrator do not agree.

///

my life provides ample evidence that I know how to fuck myself

Same, narrator, same.

///

This is a wise book, a funny book, a serious and an emotive and a human and a personal and a wide-ranging and a deep and fucking complex book and, honestly, I think you – whoever you are – should buy it and read it asap.

order My Dead Book direct from Pilot Press

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