THE JOY OF FUNERALS

Hailed as the literary equivalent of "Six Feet Under meets Sex in the City," Alix Strauss's debut collection, The Joy of Funerals (St. Martin's Press, 2003), is already the subject of much literary praise, and is the recent winner of the Ingram Award. From the very first page, readers are drawn into a strange, often humorous world where nine 30-something women grapple with sex, power, love and death.

Meet a widow who lusts... a daughter who aches... a lover who obsesses... a shopaholic who hungers... a dare-devil who desires... a single woman who longs... an outsider who hopes... an artist who craves... and a funeral-junkie who needs. These are the women who inhabit the eerily honest, often heartbreaking world Alix Strauss has created in The Joy of Funerals.

Throughout this powerful and provocative collection, these characters explore the basic need for human connection while seeking to understand themselves better. It is the 'where do I belong' and the 'how do I fit in' that these sad, bright and amazingly strong women seek to answer.

In "Recovering Larry," a woman mourns for her dead husband by having sex with grieving men. In "Shrinking Away," a woman pays a daring shiva call on her psychiatrist's widow. "Swimming Without Annette" explores a woman's obsession with her lover's killer, while "Still Life" peers into the life of a pregnant artist who wishes to paint herself out of a bad marriage and into a prettier world. In "Post-Dated," a single woman wonders if her recently defunct date was perhaps the perfect man.

Read independently, these vivid and raw stories stand on their own. When read as a collection, they are anchored together by the novella, "The Joy of Funerals," which follows the life of Nina, a single thirty-something woman who attends the funerals of the deceased characters in the previous stories.

Written with raw wit, mordant humor and a uniquely penetrating voice, Strauss turns the spotlight on the unattractive subjects of loss, grief and loneliness. The Joy of Funerals is a smart, vivid and arresting look into the inner world of those left behind, and those still holding on.

BASED UPON AVAILABILITY

A writer endures eights hours of a Dungeons & Dragons convention
A mother writes to Gelman, the producer of Regis & Kathie Lee, hoping to persuade him to ask her daughter out


A mother secretly sets up her daughter thanks to an Indian Internet site
An over-zealous actor who performs a monologue at Starbucks
A jounalist is hit on by her date and his sister, at the same time.

It's an ongoing tale: Mom meets random guy. Mom gives him your number, or introduces you on the spot, or takes his number and insists you phone him...or worse, she finds him through her own devices. You go on said date and so-called 'Mr. Right' is clearly anything but. Yes, it's a story we've all heard before.

According to the Oxford Pocket Dictionary, a blind date is “a social engagement or date with a person one has not previously met: a blind date arranged by well-meaning friends.”

When coordinated by one's mother, the definition changes to: a comical, daunting, social engagement or date with a frightening, strange, odd, scary—please feel free to insert any adjective you'd like— person one has not previously met. Often, a liquid concoction or something chocolaty needs to be ingested immediately following said date. There is a good reason for this. Usually, these people were not meant to meet. The universe feels it unnecessary for any form of interaction to occur. But Mothers are forceful beings and clearly have special powers that overrun the world as we know it.

The 26 personal essays enclosed in this book are—deep sigh—all true. And since there are no twelve-step programs, no meetings for Victims of Bad Set-ups By Mothers—or VBBM— for us to attend, this is our only way to vent and share our stories of misfortune. Hilarious and heartfelt, we hope you'll feel part of a sisterhood of failed fix-ups, made worse by you know who. Like a support group to carry around in your Prada purse, these narratives let you in on the date while introducing you to each author's mother. They are honest, entertaining and amusing tales, providing validating, tangible, and sympathetic proof that you are not alone— but rather in good company. And for you lucky few who have been spared the mother-induced fix-up, we hope you'll count your blessings while still enjoying the read.

In the fashion of The Modern Jewish Girl's Guide to Guilt, Bastard on the Couch and Bitch in the House, Have I Got A Guy For You is a colorful, tasty array of flavored jellybeans, perfectly mixed in a cleverly glass jar. As filling as a five course meal and as satisfying as fat-free ice cream, we hope you will gobble up these stories as quickly as our mother's handed out our phone numbers and e-mail address. Of course, no collection would be complete without a happy ending, and our bride-to-be is proof that once in a while, Mom gets it right - even when we think she won't.

DEATH BECOMES THEM

Unearthing the Suicides of the Brilliant, the Famous, and the Notorious

The weather in Sussex, London is brisk; the sun shining. The large stones are smooth in her hands. Solid and heavy in her pockets. They bulge from her coat. Though she found herself in this exact position, standing by the river, ready to end her life days ago, she failed. She returned home drenched, body shivering from the cold. But today she knows more. Today she has the rocks.

Virginia Woolf spent most of her life in one of two states: writing or fighting a bipolar/manic depressiveness which went undiagnosed until after she’d drowned herself on March 28th, 1941. Three weeks later her body was discovered by a group of children playing near the water.

Each of the 20 legendary luminaries unearthed in Alix Strauss’ Death Becomes Them was brilliant, creative and of course, suicidal. Manic, bipolar, depressed and suffering from addiction, these geniuses were also self-destructive.

Death Becomes Them is an eye-opening and intimate portrait of the lonely, sad and nightmarish lives these famous folks led. Along with being an historic overview of suicide, Strauss’ book delves into the deaths of our most influential cultural icons: Sylvia Plath, Adolf Hitler, Diane Arbus, Sigmund Freud, Vincent van Gogh, Abbie Hoffman, Virginia Woolf, Kurt Cobain, Spalding Gray, and Anne Sexton, among others. The deaths are as diverse as the person that killed themselves. Some are tragic – Dorothy Dandridge was found naked on her bathroom floor, a handful of anti-depressants swimming in her system. Others are bizarre – Hunter S. Thompson shot himself while on the phone with his wife in an eerie, copycat tribute to his hero, Ernest Hemingway who killed himself in a similar way forty-four years earlier.

While Strauss explores some of the most talked about and monumental suicides of the past she examines our own morbid fascination, asking why we have become so fixated on these tortured souls. While paying tribute to their lives, focus is placed on their final days and the incidents that led up to the moment when they took their last breath.

Strauss decodes their suicide notes, touches on their accomplishments and delves into the methodology of their deaths by documented autopsy and police reports, death certificates, obituaries, and personal photos. Lists regarding controversial, bizarre, famous and poorly executed suicides along with unusual facts and statistics are found in this mammoth tome.

  • It takes about 90 seconds to pass out and 4 minutes to die if you put a plastic bag over your head. Even more unsettling, the bag doesn’t need to be tied at the bottom for the lungs to be deprived of oxygen.

  • Called a suicide magnet, the Golden Gate Bridge is the most popular location in the world to jump from.

  • Actor David Strickland, who hung himself in a cheap hotel room in Vegas, falls into the category of the group most apt to leave suicide notes. The most common knot used is the slipknot, which is usually placed at the side of the neck.

  • Musician Elliott Smith – who stabbed himself in the chest – chose one of the rarest methods.

  • The leading method of killing yourself, a gun, is easy, fast, painless, efficient and accounts for approx 52% of all suicides. ‘Pulling a Hemingway’ or the ‘Hemingway Solution’ refers to someone who killed themselves placing a shotgun to the head.

Written in a creative, descriptive and informative tone, Death Becomes Them is a private, provocative and personal tribute to these lost souls—a fond remembrance and a final goodbye.

HAVE I GOT A GUY FOR YOU

A writer endures eights hours of a Dungeons & Dragons convention
A mother writes to Gelman, the producer of Regis & Kathie Lee, hoping to persuade him to ask her daughter out


A mother secretly sets up her daughter thanks to an Indian Internet site
An over-zealous actor who performs a monologue at Starbucks
A jounalist is hit on by her date and his sister, at the same time.

It's an ongoing tale: Mom meets random guy. Mom gives him your number, or introduces you on the spot, or takes his number and insists you phone him...or worse, she finds him through her own devices. You go on said date and so-called 'Mr. Right' is clearly anything but. Yes, it's a story we've all heard before.

According to the Oxford Pocket Dictionary, a blind date is “a social engagement or date with a person one has not previously met: a blind date arranged by well-meaning friends.”

When coordinated by one's mother, the definition changes to: a comical, daunting, social engagement or date with a frightening, strange, odd, scary—please feel free to insert any adjective you'd like— person one has not previously met. Often, a liquid concoction or something chocolaty needs to be ingested immediately following said date. There is a good reason for this. Usually, these people were not meant to meet. The universe feels it unnecessary for any form of interaction to occur. But Mothers are forceful beings and clearly have special powers that overrun the world as we know it.

The 26 personal essays enclosed in this book are—deep sigh—all true. And since there are no twelve-step programs, no meetings for Victims of Bad Set-ups By Mothers—or VBBM— for us to attend, this is our only way to vent and share our stories of misfortune. Hilarious and heartfelt, we hope you'll feel part of a sisterhood of failed fix-ups, made worse by you know who. Like a support group to carry around in your Prada purse, these narratives let you in on the date while introducing you to each author's mother. They are honest, entertaining and amusing tales, providing validating, tangible, and sympathetic proof that you are not alone— but rather in good company. And for you lucky few who have been spared the mother-induced fix-up, we hope you'll count your blessings while still enjoying the read.

In the fashion of The Modern Jewish Girl's Guide to Guilt, Bastard on the Couch and Bitch in the House, Have I Got A Guy For You is a colorful, tasty array of flavored jellybeans, perfectly mixed in a cleverly glass jar. As filling as a five course meal and as satisfying as fat-free ice cream, we hope you will gobble up these stories as quickly as our mother's handed out our phone numbers and e-mail address. Of course, no collection would be complete without a happy ending, and our bride-to-be is proof that once in a while, Mom gets it right - even when we think she won't.

 
 
 
 
© 2023 Alix Strauss. Proudly created by CCMEDIA.NYC