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The Joy of Funerals

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What's it all about?

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.