The best and brightest news is that the book I've been researching for about 6 years will... become a book! SITTING VIGIL: IN SEARCH OF A GOOD DEATH will be published by Beacon Press in 2015. No small thanks goes to my brilliant agent, Laurie Abkemeier, for finding me, for believing in this project from the beginning, and for holding my hand through the process. I'm so tickled. And I'm so on lock-down. The deadline for the manuscript is this fall.
A host of other little successes and articles have kept me busy. Here are some links:
My time in India straddled the conclusion of the national election in which the Congress party, in power almost uninterruptedly since the time of Indian independence in 1947, was defeated by the BJP. The new Prime Minister, Modi, represents an extraordinary overthrow of political philosophy. I wrote about Modi, and an Indian yoga guru, Baba Ramdev, who aided Modi's election, for Killing the Buddha, "Whose 'India First'?".
As a new contributing nonfiction editor at the online literary magazine, Guernica, I was lucky enough to help edit an article by academic Wendy Pearlman on the Syrian uprising and how it has affected individual lives there. Read Pearlman's "Fathers of Revolution" when you can. It's stunning.
In April I got to read, along with Alia Malek and Erika Anderson, at a Big Umbrella/Guernica sponsored event. It was fantastic fun--even though I was nervous to be reading... about kidneys. I read "What's a Kidney Worth?" one of the earlier installments of my column at The Revealer, a publication of The Center for Religion and Media at New York University. Writing the monthly "The Patient Body" column has been pure joy. And it's ongoing so keep an eye on The Revealer if "issues at the intersection of religion and media" are your thing.
I wrote two book reviews for Bookforum this spring. The first (FEB/MAR 2014) was of Megan Hustad's More than Conquerors: A Memoir of Lost Arguments and the second (APR/MAY 2014) was of Charles Marsh's Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. If you don't subscribe to Bookforum, well, you should. Both, so far, are only in print.
On April 3 I was honored to speak at Colgate University's Lambert Institute for Civic and Global Affairs. Hamilton, New York, is so charming and the drive up and back were so gorgeous. But the best part was meeting faculty and students who were perfect, curious and insightful hosts.
For Guernica's special issue on the American South in March, I wrote about the increasingly Southern practice of execution. You should check out the entire issue, which will soon become an ebook, here.
In February I got to write about marijuana and hospice for OnFaith. Here's a little excerpt: "The ironies of how we regulate moral behavior were not lost on me. Nor would they have been lost on most anyone who happened to observe our smoking through the window of her luxurious apartment on Central Park West."
Also in February I was asked to present a talk for the Columbia University Seminar on Death. The conversation was so lively and smart that I came away with insights that continue to inform my work.
A special issue on End of Life was printed by the New York Law School Review in February. You can read my contribution, "The Limits of Autonomy: Force-Feedings in Catholic Hospitals and Prisons" online.
Now on to summer!