Killing the Buddha‘s editors and contributors raucously celebrate the publication of Ann Neumann‘s The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America (Beacon, February 2016) with a night of death-affirming readings by authors Scott Korb, Gordon Haber, and Peter Manseau (Melancholy Accidents: Three Centuries of Stray Bullets and Bad Luck, Melville House, March 2016).
With live music by Ilan Moss and Alex Kramer. Lawyer Robin Goeman will instruct attendees on how to complete Advanced Directives.
Morbid Anatomy Museum
424A 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
Ann Neumann is a visiting scholar at The Center for Religion and Media at New York University. She has contributed to The New York Times, The Revealer, The Guardian, The Nation, The Baffler and Guernica, where she is a contributing nonfiction editor. The Good Death, her first book, was published by Beacon Press in February, 2016.
Gordon Haber holds an MFA from Columbia University and is a former Fulbright fellow. He is a regular contributor to Religion Dispatches and The Jewish Daily Forward. His recent fiction includes the best-selling Kindle Singles “False Economies” and “Adjunctivitis.” He does not live in Brooklyn.
Scott Korb is the author of Light Without Fire, Life in Year One, and coauthor of The Faith Between Us. He teaches at The New School and New York University and is on the MFA faculty at Pacific University. His latest coauthored book, Gesturing Toward Reality: David Foster Wallace and Philosophy, was published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2014.
Peter Manseau holds a doctorate in religion from Georgetown University and is currently a fellow at the Smithsonian. He is the author of Rag and Bone, Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter, Vows, and One Nation Under Gods. His latest book, Melancholy Accidents, will be published by Melville House in March 2016.
Robin Goeman is a Brooklyn-based Attorney at Law who specializes in estate planning, guardianship and elder law. Her clients include seniors creating plans for themselves, children petitioning for guardianship of a parent, parents creating supplemental needs trusts for children, disabled adults planning for benefits and settlements, and guardians who need representation.
Killing the Buddha, an online magazine of religion, culture and politics, was founded in 2000 by Jeff Sharlet and Peter Manseau. In 2003, Utne Reader declared KtB one of the “fifteen websites that could shake the world.” Now for more than a decade and a half, through deaths and resurrections and a few torch passings, KtB is still shaking it. In 2010, CNN said, “Killing the Buddha makes religion interesting again.”
About The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America (Beacon Press, 2016)
When Ann Neumann’s father was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, she left her job and moved back to her hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She became his full-time caregivercooking, cleaning, and administering medications. When her father died, she was undone by the experience, by grief and the visceral quality of dying. Neumann struggled to put her life back in order and found herself haunted by a question: Was her father’s death a good death?
The way we talk about dying and the way we actually die are two very different things, she discovered, and many of us are shielded from what death actually looks like. To gain a better understanding, Neumann became a hospice volunteer and set out to discover what a good death is today. She attended conferences, academic lectures, and grief sessions in church basements. She went to Montana to talk with the attorney who successfully argued for the legalization of aid in dying, and to Scranton, Pennsylvania, to listen to “pro-life” groups who believe the removal of feeding tubes from some patients is tantamount to murder. Above all, she listened to the stories of those who were close to death.
What Neumann found is that death in contemporary America is much more complicated than we think. Medical technologies and increased life expectancies have changed the very definition of medical death. And although death is our common fate, it is also a divisive issue that we all experience differently. What constitutes a good death is unique to each of us, depending on our age, race, economic status, culture, and beliefs. What’s more, differing concepts of choice, autonomy, and consent make death a contested landscape, governed by social, medical, legal, and religious systems.
In these pages, Neumann brings us intimate portraits of the nurses, patients, bishops, bioethicists, and activists who are shaping the way we die. The Good Death presents a fearless examination of how we approach death, and how those of us close to dying loved ones live in death’s wake.