Reviews of 'Cemetery Walk'
Well the book itself, and I'm just talking about the book’s physical properties, the cover is beautiful the pictures of it on the web don't begin to do it justice. I especially enjoy the Resources and how you put them at the end of each chapter. I found myself checking out the resources on the Web, which I feel gives the reader a greater insight to the book itself. As to the books contents it’s nothing short of wonderful. I could see Minda sitting in front of the country general store, on a rocking chair, with a knife and a piece of wood like the village story teller. I just love story tellers. She also wrote it in the first person like she was taking the reader by the hand and giving them a personal tour. It’s like we’re right there with her on her Cemetery Walk. Minda has a comfortable style of writing that makes the reader want to read on. She makes it all come alive.
The section about her grandfather really spoke to me. Aren’t grandfathers God’s gift to children? It was like she was talking about my own grandfather. My pop-pop, as I called him, was the major influence in my life after the death of my father when I was four. He’s been gone since 1975, yet there isn’t a day that I don’t think of him. When Minda spoke of her grandfather, it was like she was talking about all the grandfathers everywhere.
If this is what we have to expect from her, I am already pacing the floors waiting for her next book. Should it be anything like this one, it will be more than a treat but a treasure. Thank you so much.
- T.C., Pennsylvania
I'm what Minda Powers-Douglas calls an "Accidental Taphophile" - someone who may not have been born with a love for cemeteries, but grew into it by chance. Apparently, I even followed a not-too-unusual path to my taphophilia: I started taking my daily walk in a cemetery near my apartment because it was quiet, shady, and free of traffic. Over time, my pace got slower and slower as I stopped more and more to look at the graves I was passing. My interest grew, and these days I'm apt to baffle my friends by saying things like, "Ooh, we're going to be in the west suburbs? Can we stop by Mt. Carmel Cemetery to visit the Italian Bride?"
Taphophile that I am, I was ready to thoroughly enjoy Cemetery Walk, and I was not disappointed in the least. It's full of cemetery information, anecdotes, and legends. Powers-Douglas has visited cemeteries around the country - taking pictures, interviewing employees and visitors, and digging up local history (no pun intended!). Some of the cemeteries she includes are ones I've visited and loved, and others are ones I'd love to visit. If you're a taphophile too, you're likely to be intrigued by more than one of the cemeteries or individual graves she illuminates; you just might end up planning a road trip to Salem, Massachusetts, or Davenport, Iowa.
But Cemetery Walk is not just for cemetery lovers - and it's not just about cemeteries. Powers-Douglas has also studied the rituals and traditions surrounding death in various eras, religions, and regions. She's spoken to embalmers, artists, activists, and the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, all in an effort to help demystify death and break down the taboos surrounding it. Readers can learn a bit about the Victorian mourning tradition, the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead, the Salem witch trials, and the eerie vibes permeating Lizzie Borden's house. Cemetery Walk is a romp through all things related to death and remembrance.
That might sound like a paradox, but that's the thing: it really is a romp - that's what makes it such a fun and accessible book. Powers-Douglas loves her subject, and it shows. You can just picture her bouncing in her seat at the thought of a beautiful, centuries-old and well-preserved gravestone. But despite her delight in cemeteries, she does take her subject seriously and would never make light of the weight that a loved one's death can put on us - instead, she shows how a fitting remembrance can help lift that weight.
There's no need to fear that this book will be an esoteric listing of facts and figures and yawns, readable only by the true devotee. Cemetery Walk is for cemetery lovers and dilettantes alike. If you think a walk through a cemetery would be depressing or boring, try reading this book and you just might think again. The wide variety of stories, interviews, and odd little tangents breathes life into the subject of death.
Anyone who's ever been able to set foot into a cemetery without saying "Ick!" or "Eek!" - and I think we're in the majority - should be able to find something to enjoy in this book. You don't have to be a mortician or a Goth to like Cemetery Walk. If you've got an interest in history or genealogy, you're sure to find tidbits of interest. If you love a spooky tale, you'll find a few good ones. If you've faced the death of a loved one - and I think that's pretty much all of us - you can find solace in the book's celebration of remembrance.
And, of course, if you're a taphophile like Minda Powers-Douglas, don't think twice - turn to page one and prepare for a good read. (9/2005)
- Linnea Crowther, Illinois
Last update 8/9/12
Copyright Minda Powers-Douglas 2004-2016
Copyright Minda Powers-Douglas 2004-2016