Book notes: Death of an Ordinary Man

ordinaryman.jpgDuring my day trip on Friday I was reading Glen Duncan’s Death of an Ordinary Man. I was drawn to it by the review in last week’s New York Times, and found it totally mesmerizing. The story is simple: the disembodied spirit of a man who has just died floats above his funeral, and follows the mourners to his wake, privy to the thoughts of (almost) all, repeatedly drawn into vortices of memory. He gradually realizes that he’s in this state in order to understand how and why he died. But to achieve this, he needs to understand how he lived. An unvarnished post-mortem examination of the minutiae of life: of relationships, family, children, love, passion, and loss. I find myself thinking back over the story: I think that I’ll have to re-read it, soon, to revisit some of the (appropriately) ambiguous passages with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. Highly recommended, though not for the emotionally fragile (or the prudish).