Reviews for Apparition & Late Fictions : A Novella and Stories

Booklist Reviews 2010 February #2
Lynch has written celebrated essays and poetry about his life as a funeral director in a small Michigan town. He now expresses his compassion for humankind--so flawed, so full of rage and longing--and his attunement to the "heartbreaking beauty of the natural world" in fiction shaped by his intimacy with death. A tenderhearted undertaker collects the body of a young woman murdered by her husband in "Bloodsport." In "Hunter's Moon," a former traveling casket salesman finds solace in the deep woods. If these somber yet vital tales are in keeping with Lynch's earlier work, "Matinée de Septembre" is a thrilling departure. A glamorous, widowed, and acclaimed poet and academic retreats to the luxurious isolation of Mackinac Island, where she succumbs to an unforeseen form of Stendhal syndrome in a brilliant variation on Thomas Mann's masterpiece, Death in Venice. And then there's Lynch's acerbic novella, "Apparition," in which a pastor becomes a celebrity by writing a self-help book titled Good Riddance--Divorcing for Keeps. Lynch's first fiction collection is powerful, unsettling, and full of grace. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 October #2
Funeral director turned writer Lynch (essays: The Undertaking, 1997) brings a soft-spoken humanity to bear on aspects of life as well as death in his debut fiction collection.Focused on the bereaved, those working in the death professions, or both, Lynch's first three stories share an overt, clear-eyed preoccupation with the subject of death. Most moving is the opener, "Catch and Release," in which a "trout bum" whose fishing expertise is a tribute to his father's love and life lessons spends a day angling, remembering Dad and disposing of his ashes. The human histories are slightly less affecting in "Bloodsport" and "Hunter's Moon." The former observes an aging funeral director as he remembers a moment of desire for the young woman, now murdered, whom he must help lay to rest; the latter offers Harold Keehn's reminiscences about his three wives. Two longer pieces share the earlier stories' realism and retrospective point of view, but they place greater emphasis on the sum of a life rather than its conclusion. "Matinée de Septembre" showcases a successful academic and poet whose unplanned vacation leads to an ecstatic, transfixing encounter. The title novella, a triumph of empathy, features the reflections of an ex-minister whose failed marriage has led him to celebrity and wealth as a divorce guru. Lynch addresses familiar themes of professional achievement, sexuality and emotional engagement as he scrupulously dissects a mismatched relationship and its aftermath.Compassion, mourning, joy and wit all play roles in this tender, insightful hefting of mortality's mysteries. Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2009 October #1
I can't tell you about The Undertaking, Lynch's National Book Award finalist, which also won the Heartland Prize for nonfiction, but I can attest to the power of his poetry, starting with Skating with Heather Grace. Do try this. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Reviews 2009 October #2

Lynch, a published poet whose account of working with his father as a funeral director (The Undertaking) was a National Book Award finalist, presents an impressive first collection of short fiction. Focusing on the subject of loss, Lynch writes with a poet's eye for detail and phrasing and brings extraordinary emotional depth to his characters as they struggle to understand themselves, the choices they've made, and the mysterious ways in which the world works. In "Bloodsport," a funeral director mourns the violent death of a neighborhood woman he knew when she was a young girl. In "Matine de Septembre," Lynch ingeniously updates Thomas Mann's Death in Venice. In the deeply complex and magnificently rendered "Apparition," a divorced father must finally come to terms with his life. VERDICT There is wisdom, courage, and great depth of feeling here. The pieces in this powerful, meditative collection are all beautifully drawn; the title story is a masterpiece.--Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., CT

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 September #3

Death haunts this underwhelming collection from essayist, poet (and undertaker) Lynch (The Undertaking). In "Catch and Release," the shortest and best story, a fishing guide disposes of his father's ashes in an unusual way. "Bloodsport" is an undertaker's grim reflection on his peripheral involvement in the life of a murder victim. "Hunter's Moon" is a decent character sketch about a widowed former casket salesman, but as a story, it's too inward-looking and inert. "Matine de Septembre" presents a portrait of professor Aisling Black that strands her in a lugubrious female version of Death in Venice set in a Michigan resort. "Apparition," the centerpiece novella, is the story of Adrian Littlefield, a minister who becomes a bestselling self-help author after his wife leaves him. It's told mostly as flashbacks during Adrian's contemporary visit to the location of his ex-wife's first infidelity. Unfortunately, drawing this slight story out dilutes its promise. Overall, Lynch seems at a loss for what to do with his fictional creations; haunted as they are by deaths and burdensome back stories, his character's present lives feel contrived. (Feb.)

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