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Being Dead Is No Excuse
by Gayden Metcalfe Gayden Metcalfe

Category: Fiction / Comedy
256 pages; ISBN: 1401359345

Rating: 1/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Gail Cooke


Forget Scarlet, Zelda, and Tallulah, they pale beside the ladies of the Mississippi Delta who are dedicated, determined, and (pun intended) dead set on seeing the dearly departed off in style.

"Being Dead Is No Excuse" is laugh out loud funny, true, and chock full of recipes for must-be-served dishes at after funeral receptions. Tomato aspic with homemade mayonnaise tops the list that includes Aunt Hebe's Coconut Cake and Virginia's Butterbeans. Those who doubt the import of a table groaning under countless casseroles will learn that "Nobody eats better than the bereaved Southerner. We celebrate weddings, christenings, birthdays, and just about every milestone in life with food. But every southerner knows that death cooking is our very best."

Now, it's not only the food, but it's also the presentation. For Southern ladies, polishing silver is a form of grief therapy thus the serving pieces will be immaculate. In addition, linens are required. "We do not want Mildred to go under with paper napkins."

Metcalfe forthrightly addresses the vanity often ascribed to Southern women by describing an older lady who passed away and wanted to be "laid out" as she looked during the happiest days of her life - when she was a waitress. Thanks to the craftsmanship of the local undertaker she appeared in her coffin in waitress uniform with ruby red lips and the same color hair.

Then there is Lavinia, the former wife of a philanderer. Not wishing to be outdone at his services, she made a Botox appointment, bought designer duds, and hired a King Air private jet which she directed to buzz the church. There wasn't anyone with ears who didn't know "someone" had arrived. Then, Lavinia strode smartly down the aisle stage-whispering, "I don't want anybody to know I'm here.....I just came for the children."

Greenville, Mississippi native Metcalfe hasn't missed a beat in relating the rollicking rites and rituals necessary for the Southerner's final goodbye, including the frequency of their visits to the local cemetery. "We won't forget you just because you've up and died," she writes. "We may even like you better and visit you more often."

Few will forget "Being Dead Is No Excuse."

- Gail Cooke



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