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08/19/2010

For the dedicated obituary reader

August 19, 2010 | 10:38 pm

Check out this review on NPR for "The Daily Telegraph Fourth Book of Obituaries." Tom Rachman, a former journalist who recently published his debut novel, takes a look at the Telegraph collection edited by Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd.

Rachman, who says he wrote a few obits in his day, offers this insight:

The obit is as close as news gets in structure to the short story. After all, how many other news articles have a conclusion? An obit also shares with literature a talent for the revealing detail, as in The Times of London obit of Cyril Connolly, which delightfully describes the intellectual's "habit of marking his place in a book at the breakfast table with a strip of bacon."

During my past career as a journalist, I relished writing obits and equally dreaded phoning relatives for the necessary facts. But to my surprise and great relief, they often wanted to talk — they wanted their recently deceased loved ones recorded in print.

Rachman's essay was on "All Things Considered," from the "My Guilty Pleasure" series.

-- Claire Noland

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