Ghosty and Fragmented Bullet Points on Death and Exile

1. Maureen Mullarkey discusses death and the jolly skeleton.

2. The entire month, of November, as she points out,  belongs to the dead. It’s my favorite month, not least because I was born into it.

3. This is the first November of my life I’ve spent entirely away from home, and it’s very strange to never pass the cemeteries where my grandparents, aunts, sister lie.

4. The threat of unburial is frequent in the Illiad and Odyssey. Priam kisses the hand of his son’s murderer in order to regain the body, and Odysseus tells an enemy that the crows will peck at his rotting flesh, or something like that, I can’t find my books.

5. Unburial is horror for the dead, but what about the living? When we bury the dead we claim them. We claim the dead just because they are ours, and we love them, not because they are productive citizens or because they can feel bodily pain.

6. This seems to me the terror of exile–to be so far from one’s beloved dead. Not the struggle to build a new life, but its formless rawness, the weight of being only oneself and for oneself, existing only in the present. Home is where the burial ground is.

7. Zombie movies are comforting in their action adventure format. They can’t be real if they don’t show the suffocating grief of your dead refusing to recognize you, turning against you. There’s no peace in life or death when that happens, which I suppose is the premise of Zombie-hood. No one ever asks if the world is worth saving, though, and so the films reassure.

8. An unburied corpse is horrible, because he has not been claimed, and might turn against us. The peaceful solidarity of our present moment with our inherited past and inevitable future, of living and dead, depends on our tethering the dead to ourselves. Without the dead we have no “ours.”

7. Emily Bronte calls her ghosty menage “sleepers in the quiet earth,” and we refer to departed Christians as “those who sleep in Christ.” Christ will come to wake them all from sleep, but there’s an interesting range of possibility suggested in dormition. If you wake a sleeper too early, will she sleepwalk? Can you guide her gently back to bed, or will she become angry in her confused dreams?

I understand why atheists reject the existence of ghosts as a matter of dogma, but not why Christians would.


Was your Valentine’s day not all you expected? Did the man of your dreams turn out to be a two timin’ sonofa or closet Steven Crowder?  Or, even more common in these shameless modern times, did he ditch you for some broad with a thirty thousand pound dowry or fail to mention the mentally ill wife locked in his attic till you were on the point of saying “I do”?

Here, without further ado, is a breakup playlist inspired by the different* ways some of our favorite romantic heroines, broadly defined, handled heartbreak, split-ups, and rotten lovers..

Feel free, of course, to add your own.

Marianne Dashwood 

Honorable mention

Elinor Dashwood

Because, although she does not exactly tell Edward she should have changed that stupid lock, she should have made him leave his key, etc, she is a survivor if anyone is.

Honorable mention

Miss Havisham

Honorable mention

Jane Eyre, re Rochester

Honorable mention

Jane Eyre re St. John Rivers

Dido, Queen of Cathage

Honorable mention

Anne Elliot

Scarlett O’Hara

Cathy Earnshaw

Honorable mention, because I had to

Fanny Price re Henry Crawford

Ellen Olenska re Newland Archer

Ellen Olenska re Count Olenski

Tess Durbeyfield re Angel Clare


Jo March re Laurie

Maggie Tulliver re Philip, Stephen, dry land, life.

*Of course, there’s different and there’s….different

The Movietrailer

Why are the three books angsty teenagers everywhere cite as their sacred texts all going celluloid at the same time? Can the world handle all this tender breathlessness, or will it make like a fabulous roman candle and explode like spiders across the sky?



Sorry, Orlando, but the American accent didn’t work in Elizabethtown (although really, what did?), and it isn’t working here.



Same goes for you, Emma, although because I like you a lot you get points for trying.



I would just like the record to show that Baz Luhrmann is possibly the last man I would have picked to direct this movie.


Ok, moving from angst to passionate, deranged ghostyness.



This might actually be ok? I like how silent the trailer is.


Not sure what to make of this one yet,



except that I used to have those overalls and want them back.


And finally (sensitive viewers, skip this one):



I’m glad that this avoids a Pretty Woman narrative in favor of two women building a business and a friendship. Brownie points.

BUT I am getting prettttty fed up with this whole “sex work is so boho-chic and empowering as long as it takes place in a completely non-threatening white middle class millieu!” trope. More on this later.

Ok, that’s all, folks. Any interesting coming-soons that I missed?


Update: OH WAIT. We should sneak a bottle of whiskey into the theater and go see this.



This is exactly the kind of movie they invented brown paper bags for.


The Bookish Bear it Away

Flannery O’Connor, cartoonist

Texts from Jane

Edith Wharton vs. Jonathan Franzen

And we realize that this song is best enjoyed on  rainy days after school whilst dancing around one’s room still clad in plaid kilt and saddle shoes (not that we have ever done that), and that posting it at the height of hot bright summer represents the kind of gross disregard for taste and propriety that gets one black-balled from all the best cat-lady and peacock-lady clubs;  but we cleverly decided to use the royal we and are thus rendered immune to criticism.

Sorry, suckers.


Finally, A Co-Apologist


I have been trying to convince people of this for years. Ever since my sophomore year of highschool, to be exact.

Now, I love Jane Eyre. Love love can quote whole passages from memory and my copy is falling to pieces love Jane Eyre. But Villette is something else. If you haven’t yet, read it! (I’m assuming you’ve read Jane E, but read that too!)

And, to make things even better, my rather profane comrade in Villettemania references Strictly Ballroom, which is possibly the only good thing Baz Luhrmann has ever made (correct me if I’m wrong, of course), and a fantastic confection of camp, kook, heart, and sparkle. If you haven’t yet, see it!

Victorian novels. Dance flicks. So many good things.