By Charles Wilkins

It is more appropriate for a Halloween column perhaps, but this quirky and very unusual memoir only came across my desk in early November, after it was discussed on CBC Radio’s “Ontario Today” program. The author spent five months in the turbulent year of 1969 as a gravedigger in a re-named cemetery in an unnamed Ontario town, where he met a legion of re-named, morally suspect undertakers, grounds crewmen, plot salesmen and even mourners. It is the type of summer job one might think would have inspired Stephen King, but the tales revealed by Wilkins – a National Magazine Award-winner – reveal not so much the gory and horrific, but rather the often sad, awful truths about the business of after-death (for instance, what would happen if grave-diggers went on strike?), and the ways that its employees create their own rules to cope. Told with brutal honesty and a lot of coarse language, this book is not for the faint of heart, and absolutely not for anyone needing closure, comfort and solace about a dearly departed loved one. Readers with a macabre sense of humour and those who like shock value however, will be amazed at the odd professional facts and grim philosophies Wilkins uncovered that summer he spent burying the deceased.
Reviewed in November 7, 2008.


Enjoyed your book Mr. Wilkins. Especially enjoyed Scotty and everyone's interactions with him. You had me laughing on every page. Thanks! Look forward to your next book.

December 17, 2008 at 12:17 AM  

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