The Good Funeral Awards

Six Feet Under Books

23 January, 2011

When you have set yourself the task of organising a weekend around life and death as featured in Six Feet Under, it’s amazing how creative you can be.

The first thing I’ve done is follow up on the literary references that are linked to the series.

For instance, when Claire is experimenting with sex, drugs and art, she reads The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge. Castaneda is one of the gurus behind the hippy era.

Nate, when dealing with a bereaved family, quotes from A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis: ‘No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.’

David is given a copy of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach by a teenager who loves it.

Mary Roach is a very stylish humorist: ‘being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back. The brain has shut down. The flesh begins to soften. Nothing much new happens, and nothing is expected of you.’ I fired off an invitation to the convention to her. Unfortunately she’s on an American book tour during that period.

Gail Sheehy’s Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life is mentioned in one episode, and a well-thumbed copy of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
appears in one shot after the death of a very elderly woman.

I’m reading The American Way of Death Revisited by Jessica Mitford for background, as did Alan Ball, and I’m preparing to get in contact with undertaker/poet Thomas Lynch who Ball also mentioned as an influence.

Some people will remember Maggie Sibley’s line: ‘Well, I know that if you think life is a vending machine, where you put in virtue and you get out happiness, then you’ll probably gonna be disappointed.’

I found a very similar line in Rabbi Harold S Kushner’s book When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Rabbi Kushner would be a great speaker to have, as he’s a superb storyteller.

Any suggestions for speakers who have had their work featured in Six Feet Under would be much appreciated.