Dead People

Dead People

A book of unorthodox obituaries from David Foster Wallace to Osama bin Laden.


Dead People is a book of eulogies, written for an eclectic assortment of famous and interesting people who died in recent years. The essays were written by Stefany Anne Golberg and 2013 Whiting Award winner Morgan Meis. The book covers twenty-eight dead people in all, including intellectuals like Susan Sontag, Christopher Hitchens and Eric Hobsbawn; musicians like Sun Ra, MCA (Beastie Boys) and Kurt Cobain; writers like David Foster Wallace, John Updike and Tom Clancy; artists like Thomas Kinkade and Robert Rauschenberg; and controversial political figures like Osama bin Laden and Mikhail Kalashnikov.


What a fine, thoughtful and quietly courageous [essay about Osama bin Laden], Saddam's end and the rituals of death. It moved and persuaded me, both. ~ Adam Gopnik, New Yorker Staff Writer, winner of three National Magazine Awards and the George Polk Award for magazine reporting

These tart, funny, sad, occasionally angry and always surprising essays about recently departed writers, artists, musicians, and terrorists are much more than obituaries. Taken together, they form an intellectual, artistic, and political history of the 20th century. It was, for the most part, a rotten century, but it's where we came from, and very much worth revisiting through the eyes and minds of Golberg and Meis. ~ Keith Gessen, co-editor of n+1, author of All the Sad Young Literary Men

Read this book first for the tart, surprising sentences: "You could call it a theological problem," on the Beastie Boys; "You can't overestimate how difficult it is to write about McDonald's that well," on Updike; "There is nowhere to stray when all is one," on Tom Clancy, of all people. Then read it again to encounter two minds beautifully surveying our hideous, glorious last century passim. I both admire and teeth-grindingly envy this beautiful little book. ~ Tom Bissell, Harper's Magazine Contributing Editor, Rome Prize, Anna Akhmatova Prize

Are the essays collected here literary obituaries or just occasional pieces (death being the final occasion for us all)? Whatever they are they’re smart, generous, honest, and probing. By giving equal attention and care to movie stars and terrorists and both famous and obscure intellectuals, Golberg and Meis offer us a bracing self-portrait of our time. In honoring the dead, they make us all feel more alive. ~ Gregory Wolfe, Editor, Image Journal

They say the dead are at the mercy of the living. Taking the measure of recently deceased notables, Golberg and Meis dazzle with their exuberant acumen, passionate range of interests, and, perhaps most remarkably, their empathy. Treasuring the arts and a life of the mind, they read the lives of the no-longer-with-us with phenomenally articulate, almost ecstatic joie de vivre. ~ Thomas Farber, author of The End of My Wits and Here and Gone; Guggenheim Fellow

The word ‘eulogy’ means, literally, ‘to speak well,’ ” write Stefany Anne Golberg and Morgan Meis. They speak very well, but they do more than eulogize. Somehow, in distilled yet informal essays about these 29 people, they resurrect the deceased. This isn’t eulogy. It’s necromancy. In elegant prose, with the briefest of invocations, they summon before us Charlton Heston’s charisma and Mikhail Kalashnikov’s guilt.They contrast Chinua Achebe’s anger toward and Joseph Conrad’s pessimism about the West. The authors’ unblinking eloquence triumphs especially in thoughtful looks at the deaths of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. “There is a kind of deep metaphysical democracy to Updike's prose,” writes Meis in a tribute to the novelist, and the same embrace of diversity animates this volume. Name another party host who invited both Cy Twombly and Thomas Kinkade, or Tom Clancy and Kurt Cobain. It’s a wonderful wake. ~ Michael Sims, author of The Adventures of Henry Thoreau and The Story of Charlotte's Web

Stefany Anne Golberg
Stefany Anne Golberg STEFANY ANNE GOLBERG is a writer, multi-media artist, and a founding member of Flux Factory, an arts collective in New York.. She was a writ...
Morgan Meis
Morgan Meis MORGAN MEIS has a PhD in Philosophy and is a founding member of Flux Factory, an arts collective in New York. He has written for The New Yor...
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