History, Humanity, and Ha Jin’s “Nanjing Requiem”

nanjing requiemWhen I learned that the prolific, award-winning Ha Jin had been named to the highly selective American Academy of Arts and Letters (an exclusive honor recognizing only 250 members at any given time), I decided to read Nanjing Requiem (Pantheon, 2011) to learn more about the author and his noted prose style. Continue reading

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Death, Bodies, and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Smoke-Gets-in-Your-EyesWhen I was an adjunct English professor I especially enjoyed an assigned reading on all the strange and, let’s be honest, disturbing things morticians do to a body after death. In the United States, the practices surrounding death, wakes, and funerals are strange to say the least. In short, making a person’s body fit for viewing days after decay has begun is no easy task. Blood’s gotta go. Eyelids need to stay shut. Makeup is required. Continue reading