Birth is not inevitable. Life certainly isn’t. The sole inevitability of existence, as this anthology of essays by twenty of our most thoughtful and provocative writers seeks to examine, is death.

 

Award-winning writers David Shields and Bradford Morrow were on the train a few years ago, returning from Bard College to New York City. During the twenty-five years they’d been friends, they had never discussed the subject of death. As the Hudson River glinted in the late afternoon sun out the window, they realized there was no topic more interesting, nor one more difficult to address. Following their talk, they decided to approach a number of fellow authors, asking for meditations on the subject of mortality. After publishing a wide range of responses in special issues of the literary journals Conjunctions and Seattle Review, they decided to select some favorite essays and commission new ones, and the result is The Inevitable: Contemporary Writers Confront Death.

 

Contributors include David Gates, Kyoki Mori, Robert Clark, Sallie Tisdale, Jonathan Safran Foer, Diane Ackerman, Melissa Pritchard, Christopher Sorrentino, Joyce Carol Oates, Robin Hemley, Peter Straub, Kevin Baker, Margo Jefferson, Greg Bottoms, Lynne Tillman, Lance Olsen, Mark Doty, Brenda Hillman, Geoff Dyer, and Annie Dillard, with an introduction by Shields and Morrow.