The Dead Beat
The Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries
“A work of humour, humanity and philosophising, this book deserves to achieve a cult status”
‘The Leeds Guide’
“A ‘Fever Pitch’ for fans of obituary columns… A little gem”
The Dead Beat is a rare combination of scrapbook, a compelling read, a voyage through recent history and a celebration of the unusual lives we do not appreciate until they are gone. Often newspaper readers will skip the news pages to go straight to the obituaries, because obituaries are history as it is happening.
Marilyn Johnson enters the world of the obits page, to discover how the story of a life gets told. Becoming enthralled by the fascinating lives she reads about she begins to search for the best obits in the English language and to seek out those writers who spend their lives writing about the recently dead.
Surviving a mass gathering of obituarists and making a pilgrimage to London, home of the most literate and caustic obits of all, Marilyn Johnson is a guide to the eternal fascination of reading about the dead, and though she writes about the dead her wit, compassion and enthusiasm brings to life the obit page.
Marilyn Johnson has been a staff writer for Life, and an editor for Esquire and Redbook. She has written obituaries of Princess Diana, Jacqueline Onassis, Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Marlon Brando, among others.