After-death reading for the Day of the DeadTomorrow, November 2, is the Day of the Dead, as you surely know if you've read Malcolm Lowry, and even if you haven't. It is also Susana's birthday. Whether this coincidence explains some of her supernatural powers, I cannot say, but there is some mystical connection. It drove us to travel to Mexico, at considerable trouble and overcoming ridiculous mishaps, to the island of Janitzio in Lake Pátzcuaro, one memorable birthday, to celebrate the Day of the Dead the proper way, with dancing and music and flowers and feasts to be shared with the beloved dead. It was nothing at all like the solemn observances to which she had been confined growing up in Argentina.
Now just in time for the Day of the Dead comes news from the NYT's Edward Rothstein of a new book, The Dominion of the Dead, by Robert Pogue Harrison (U. Chicago Press).
For Mr. Harrison, in fact, the entire world of the living is permeated by the dead.Since I've already concluded that I'm not going to get to read all the important books I'd like to during my lifetime, I'm putting this one on the list of books to read after I'm dead. I don't want to be bored in the hereafter.
"We inherit their obsessions," he writes, "assume their burdens; carry on their causes; promote their mentalities, ideologies, and very often their superstitions; and often we die trying to vindicate their humliations."
Mr. Harrison is also haunted by their presence.
"It is impossible to overestimate how much human culture owes, in principle and in origin, to the corpse," he proposes.