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Life After Death

A Novel

Life After Death by Carol Muske-Dukes
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"Why don't you just die?" Boyd Schaeffer asks her husband, Russell, one night during a fight.

The next day, he does just that. Russell was rich, sensitive, charming, but always unreliable and it is not clear to Boyd what emotional legacy his untimely death has bequeathed her.

Boyd already has a complicated relationship to death. A former obstetrician, she fled both her profession and New York City when one of her patients died. Back then, she'd escaped with Russell to settle in Minnesota. Now, she embarks (along with her small daughter) on a journey into the underworld—ajourney of grief, self-reproach, and self-discovery so profound and surprising that her individual life in its quiet midwestern setting takes on the universal lineaments of myth. Boyd's companions on this journey into the shadow world between existence and nonexistence include a lonely undertaker; an unconventional embalmer, who demonstrates his trade for her; and her own daughter, who offers a child's instinctive wisdom about life's mysteries. With their help and her own persistence and courage, Boyd begins to understand that endings are often also beginnings, that the Book of Life and Death is constantly being rewritten before our eyes.

Random House Publishing Group; July 2001
ISBN 9781588360144
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Title: Life After Death
Author: Carol Muske-Dukes
"You left her in the park, babe," she cried. "You left her there all alone, babe. You drove off and then you couldn't even remember where she was. Jesus fucking Christ, what's the matter with you?"

"What's the matter with me?"

"What could possibly be the matter? You left a four-year-old all alone in a city park—hey, I'm delighted. She'll learn to be independent, right? Today you taught her that her own father could let her wander off, maybe get kidnapped, get lost. Then you walk away and you call me and say that you can't remember where you left her!"

"I didn't walk away."

"Russell, don't do this. Thank God someone from the preschool saw her there all alone and brought her home."