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Lions Roar : September 2018
REVIEWS ADVICE FOR FUTURE CORPSES (AND THOSE WHO LOVE THEM) A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying By Sallie Tisdale Touchstone 2018; 256 pp., $25.99 (cloth) Advice for Future Corpses (And Those Who Love Them) may be about death, but it’s a lively read— informative, thought-provoking, and poignant. On the very first page, Pushcart Prize–winning author Sallie Tisdale states that she’s never died, “so this entire book is fool’s advice. Birth and death are the only human acts we cannot practice.” But the truth is that Tisdale has deeply examined death in many differ- ent lights. As a long-time Zen practitioner, she’s rigorously con- templated impermanence. Additionally, she’s worked for many years as a nurse, including more than a decade in palliative care, and, like virtually all of us, she’s lost people she loved. Among other topics, this book explores what it means to die “a good death”; how to communicate sensitively and effectively with the dying, doctors, and loved ones; and what you might expect physically and emotionally in the final months, weeks, days, and hours before death. NOTES FOR THE EVERLOST A Field Guide to Grief By Kate Inglis Shambhala Publications 2018; 208 pp., $16.95 (paper) Twenty-seven weeks pregnant with twins, Kate Inglis was rushed into the operating room for an emergency C-section. One of her babies was in stable con- dition and has gone on to thrive. Her other baby did not leave the NICU. Six weeks after birth, he died in Inglis’ arms. In Notes for the Everlost, Inglis uses the raw story of her loss to speak directly to other bereaved parents. She doesn’t offer them useless or insensitive advice or pretty platitudes, as people sometimes do. Instead, she invites them to honor their grief and assures them that whatever they’re feeling—depression, rage, guilt, jealousy—is normal. I highly recommend this book not only for bereaved parents but for anyone who knows someone who has faced such a loss and doesn’t know how to act or what to say in the face of their suffering. In addition to being moving and wise, this book is full of gorgeous language and surprising metaphors. SANCTUARY A Meditation on Home, Homelessness, and Belonging By Zenju Earthlyn Manuel Wisdom Publications 2018; 120 pp., $16.95 (paper) Zenju Earthlyn Manuel’s parents grew up in southern Louisiana, not far from the plantations where their ancestors were slaves. Lynching was still com- mon, but they found sanctuary in the black creole community. Zenju herself has never lived in southern Louisiana, yet its cultural and ecological life is in her blood and gives her a sense of home. In Sanctuary, Zenju unpacks what it means to find a home within our own hearts despite spiritual and literal homelessness rooted in oppres- sion. As a Zen Buddhist priest, she contemplates the signifi- cance of taking refuge in spirituality in general, and in Bud- dhism in particular. She grapples with what it means to be a black woman embracing an Asian tradition that’s mostly practiced in the West by white people. How can she honor Zen’s roots while also honoring her own, and, moreover, where is the common root? MY YEAR OF DIRT AND WATER Journal of a Zen Monk’s Wife in Japan By Tracy Franz Stone Bridge Press 2018; 308 pp., $16.95 (paper) Tracy Franz lived in Japan for ten years, but My Year of Dirt and Water focuses on the one pivotal year when her husband moved to a six-hundred-year- old Buddhist monastery to immerse himself in Zen practice. During that year, the couple were only able to see each other a handful of times and, though there might have been a fur- tive hug or two, the rule was that they were not allowed to be intimate. Spring, summer, winter, fall—Tracy Franz faced loneliness, taught English, practiced Zen, learned the Japanese art of making pottery, and grappled with her painful child- hood. This is an evocative look at the expat experience in Japan and will be of interest to anyone who has lived that life or would like to. Tracy Franz’s husband is Koun Franz, who’s now a full priest in the Soto Zen tradition and the deputy edi- tor of Buddhadharma. By Andrea Miller LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2018 75