Subgenre: funerary rites and practices, folklore, traditions, Kentuckiana
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library
At the beginning of the book, the author states why funeral directors' stories are significant:
"I fully realized that funeral directors' accounts also held important historical content, since they are the final persons to care for friends and community members when death occurs. I have collected their stories here to preserve their memories and to document the funeral practices of earlier years and contemporary times" (1).
It is a pity he could not present those stories in a more interesting way. Some serious editing and being more selective would have worked better. I can't help but feel that big parts of this book are just filler. Had better story selection and editing been done, this would have likely been a few articles in a historical society newsletter or maybe a folklore journal. Overall, there are some interesting stories, one or two amusing ones, but they get lost in the monotonous repetition of the same events over and over.
The book is organized into an introduction, following by six chapters, and ending with biographical notes of the storytellers. Topics include funeral practices over the years, folk customs, humor and mistakes, and memories. The book is pretty much a Kentuckiana artifact. Unless you have a narrow interest in Kentucky funerary practices, the average reader has no reason to pick this up. It's just dry, boring, and repetitive as I mentioned. If you must, borrow it.
Libraries with an interest in Kentuckiana may want to add this to their collections. Otherwise, I'd say libraries in general can skip it. Having read it, I can say I would not purchase it for my library. The local public library has it, and that is plenty.
1 out of 5 stars.