The Removers-Andrew Meredith
After his father’s disgrace, the family moves to Northeast Philadelphia and becomes involved in the undertaking/removing business. This is Andrew’s memoir about how handling dead bodies allowed him to understand the living.
There’s two main threads in this book. The often absurd but also tragic undertaking business whose macabre aspects are treated with a lively humor and the author’s own driftlessness and attempts to reconcile the unhappiness of his parents. I have to admit, I didn’t really understand Andrew’s problems. He is haunted by father’s unhappiness in a way that I could not relate to. I felt like anyone could foresee that you’d drop out of the same college that your father was suspended from-pretty much slow moving self destruction-and I don’t know, he sometimes felt melodramatic about the dissolution of his parents’ marriage.
But that’s not really the strength of the memoir-instead its strength lies in how by helping others during the worst moments of their lives, he was able to come to a peace. This is a redemptive kind of memoir in which the grim details of the business of death are mused over to discuss life. Meredith writes well evoking his images well and manages to balance the tones of his subjects well even if they were in the same paragraph. I was kept reading effortlessly and it was mostly Meredith’s writing and the removing business.