Bodies in Motion and at Rest: On Metaphor and Mortality

Lynch, Thomas

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Collection (Essays)

Annotated by:
Davis, Cortney
  • Date of entry: Nov-15-2000


This collection of 20 essays continues and expands upon the theme--how we living care for our dead and incorporate them into memory--that Thomas Lynch, a poet and undertaker, introduced in his first book, The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade (see this database).

In this new book, Lynch writes rambling pieces that begin with some observation about his funereal trade then blaze off into musings about religion ("The Dead Priest"), love and divorce ("The Blindness of Love," "Y2Cat"), poetry ("Reno," "Notes on 'A Note on the Rapture to His True Love'"), and the interplay of mortality and morality ("Wombs," "The Bang & Whimper and the Boom"). In his first book, Lynch wrote scathingly of abortion and mercy killing, and here he continues his thought provoking considerations of both.

In what might be the most interesting and radical essay in this collection, "Wombs," Lynch walks a precarious line between pro-life and pro-choice rhetoric; ultimately, he asserts a woman's right to abhor decisions about her body that "leave her out." At the same time, he asks if the reproductive choices available to women, "when considered for men," might not seem "irresponsible, overly indulgent, and selfish." What if, he writes, men could declare (without stating their reasons) their interest in their unborn children "null and void, ceased and aborted?" Lynch, who spends most of his time in the contemplation of the deceased, seems to find in death a spark of life; then he fans it into flame with language.


Lynch's essays are always amusing, chilling, fascinating, and provocative--a teacher could choose almost any one of them for class discussion guaranteeing both lively debate and heated argument. "Wombs" is a must for any class in Women's Studies. While the essays in Lynch's first collection seemed more tender and genuinely spiritual, the essays here reaffirm his ability to work magic with words that engage the reader--body, mind, and soul.


W. W. Norton

Place Published

New York



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