A. G. Mojtabai’s novella , published by Slant, is a recent example of literature that can draw one out of the banality of materialism and force us to grapple with the knowledge that . It can be read as an extended meditation on death and dying; by natural extension, it can also be read as an extended meditation on life and living. For if we don’t know what it means to die, can we be said to know what it means to live?
Four dear friends of mine have died in the past year. When you get to be my age, death and dying grow familiar. My brother died a few minutes before I arrived to visit him. But I saw him lying there. And my daughter Jennifer and I held her mother’s hand for about eight hours while she passed from coma into death. My first direct encounter with death took place when I was about 11 and discovered that the man sitting in the car in front of our house had committed suicide.