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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
What Remains: The Many Ways We Say Goodbye is a non-fiction anthology of the rites and rituals performed at funerals and memorials across the globe. The pieces are written in collaboration with several authors, compiled in a beautiful study of modern anthropology by editors Sandi Gelles-Cole and Kenneth Salzmann. The range is vast and the way the stories are conveyed vary, such as Sidney Bending's Siblings, a four-verse poem featuring an unusual but consistent number, and Linda G. Kaplan's A Mantle on my Shoulders, a short story of a Jewish daughter's final time with her deceased mother and the honor of her role. All told, this book contains over fifty pieces.
What Remains is a fascinating immersion into so much more than the dead. Sandi Gelles-Cole and Kenneth Salzmann have created an ode to the living, a menagerie of how the passing of one life impacts the continuation of another, be it beautiful or indifferent, with even the latter being a conscious choice. My favorite is The Crypt by Herbert W. Piekow and his description of the building of a family mausoleum that encapsulates the importance most have in their final resting place. There is something profoundly human in standing back to admire a structure that will house you and those you love after death, building it with your own hands. The works are all tightly written and independent of each other, even with authors contributing more than one piece. This is a unique anthology that will no doubt have a bit of intrigue for all who read it.