This week, New York Magazine featured a story about Elizabeth Meyer, a sassy young funeral planner who happens to be a, “stunning 26-year-old brunette” with a background in fashion.
…the mortuary started her as a receptionist, a role that included collecting bodies from homes and morgues. “The first time they asked me to do that, I was wearing suede Gucci loafers. I was kind of concerned about them,” she says.
I hear that, girlfriend! So often your mortician says, “If I had a penny for everytime I had a Gucci mishap on the job..”
My uncontrollable physiological reaction of bile wretch in my mouth when I read articles like this comes from two places.
1) The fear that I would ever, as a “26 year old brunette” be perceived like this.
2) The fact that four years ago I literally thought that spectacle funerals were the future. And, they are, frankly. But that doesn’t make them right.
The New York article reminds me of a book that I read a few years ago, called The Funeral Planner. It is death chick lit. Holy shit it is so good.
Inspired by Ms. Meyer, a re-read was in order. Review begins now.
Meet Madison Banks. Maddy.
Maddy is an entrepreneur. It’s easy to identify entrepreneurs by the way they say things like “strategic partnerships” and “necessary actions.” Maddy does that a lot so the reader knows she’s for real. She’s also very pretty, “lissome and toned, with dark brown hair and eyes” but, ‘lest you think she’s just a pretty face, Maddy’s also got “… a brain that never stops.”
There is a problem though. Maddy has lots of entrepreneur-type good ideas but some other entrepreneur-guy name Derek keeps totally genking them! All her business ideas, “are my babies and they [a]re constantly being aborted by outside forces.” Abortion can be really traumatic for women so we are able to identify with Maddy’s pain here.
As the novel opens, Maddy is going to a funeral for her college friend. During the service it’s all gloom and doom and Maddy’s thinks that’s so wrong. She does the right thing and stands up and interrupts the Rabbi and asks to say a few words about her friend. This ends up being really touching and everyone is really happy that she interrupted the Rabbi during his sermon. Then suddenly it hits her: unique funeral experiences for rich people!
The first thing she does for her funeral business is get start-up money from her Uncle Sam. Uncle Sam is really awesome and wise and makes fishing lures and takes Maddy ice-fishing and gives her lots of advice. He’s a really nice guy so you know he’s gonna die soon.
Appropos of nothing, Maddy goes to a National Funeral Director’s Association conference in Las Vegas and brings her college friend and they have a lesbian experience in the hotel room hottub. Maddy’s not gay or anything she just doesn’t have a boyfriend because she’s taking care of her professional goals before her personal goals.
Oh, then Uncle Sam dies. It’s even sooner than we think which sucks. Maddy’s lesbian friend gives her a bag of homemade cookies and she sneaks into the funeral home and dumps out the cookies. Then she puts Uncle Sam’s ashes in the cookie bag and carries them around in her purse for months and takes them out to hug them and ask them questions. This is kinda weird because cremated remains are like 8 lbs so her purse would have to be real big. And nobody stops her on the plane from Michigan to LA even though it’s illegal to carry ashes without a permit especially post Sept 11th when ashes look like plane bombing powder. And the family doesn’t seem to notice there is nothing in the urn. I’m just saying because this is kind of a plot hole in a book that overall MAKES SO MUCH SENSE.
Maddy’s love interest is the venture capitalist Victor. Victor is silent but you can tell he really likes Maddy. Like LIKE likes her. He likes her even more when “Lights Out!” (the biznass) starts making lots of money because rich people are self-centered egotists. Like the “hold my funeral at the zoo” guy and the “hold my funeral at the golf course and start a golf camp for under-privileged kids” guy.
I won’t give away the ending because you probably want to read this 400 page masterpiece of death chick lit, but let’s just say it involves Maddy finding herself and learning to die so she can learn to LIVE. Also the use of the phrases “value proposition,” “playing my results,” and “beautiful merger” as euphemisms for sexual foreplay.