Every now and again you read a book that disappoints you. It has been a while I got as disappointed as I was while reading The Depositions. The disappointment is made worse by the fact that I fought Amazon over this book. The initial copy I purchased got missing in transit while being delivered to a European address I used. After venting at Amazon, they sent a replacement copy to Nigeria by courier, only for the original copy to arrive two months later. I was elated when the book made it into my 2021 TBR list.
The Depositions is a collection of essays on life, dying and death. It is written by Thomas Lynch, who besides being a funeral director, is also a poet. I read a review before buying it that convinced me that it was filled with musings on death, dying and burials by a writer whose day job is all about dead people. I was expecting a book version of the kind of thoughtful morbid conversation I heard in a particular Death, Sex and Money podcast episode – one of my top 3 episodes of any podcast ever. Sadly, The Depositions did not come any close to that expectation. The Depositions started well but soon became random, excessively flowery and filled with relatively pointless musings about family life. At a point, it felt like I was reading random daily entries. Like most things written by poets, I found it too flowery and forced.
The slightly redeeming factor is that as is expected in essays, in the midst of the darkness there is some light. There are some illuminating lines and paragraphs that explore the mystery and ordinariness of dying in The Depositions. There has been this recurrent discussion on whether readers are compelled to finish a book even when they don’t enjoy it. In the past, I finished every book I started and I have not been in a position to reconsider as my picks are always spot on. This time, I had to make a decision after struggling past the 200-page mark of The Depositions. Soon after, I remembered this tweet and finally gave up.