Greg Melville in conversation with Lew Keen: OVER MY DEAD BODY

Join Greg Melville, author of Over My Dead Body: Unearthing the Hidden History of America's Cemeteries, and Lew Keen, author of A Guide to Historic Burial Grounds of Newport, for a conversation about the history of how, where, and why Americans bury their dead. Greg's new book features a section on the Colonial Jewish Burial Ground here in Newport, and Lew led a tour of the Common Burying Ground and Island Cemetery for our store in October 2021.

“Astonishing. . . fascinating . . . powerful. . .This clever, sensitive book gives us a new way to think about death, not as the final chapter, but as a window onto life in America.”––NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

A lively tour through the history of US cemeteries that explores how, where, and why we bury our dead

The summer before his senior year in college, Greg Melville worked at the cemetery in his hometown, and thanks to hour upon hour of pushing a mower over the grassy acres, he came to realize what a rich story the place told of his town and its history. Thus was born Melville’s lifelong curiosity with how, where, and why we bury and commemorate our dead.

Melville’s Over My Dead Body is a lively (pun intended) and wide-ranging history of cemeteries, places that have mirrored the passing eras in history but have also shaped it. Cemeteries have given birth to landscape architecture and famous parks, as well as influenced architectural styles. They’ve inspired and motivated some of our greatest poets and authors—Emerson, Whitman, Dickinson. They’ve been used as political tools to shift the country’s discourse and as important symbols of the United States' ambition and reach.

But they are changing and fading. Embalming and burial is incredibly toxic, and while cremations have just recently surpassed burials in popularity, they’re not great for the environment either. Over My Dead Body explores everything—history, sustainability, land use, and more—and what it really means to memorialize.

Greg Melville has worked as an outdoor journalist and a former editor at Men’s Journal and Hearst magazines. He has strong connections with magazines and newspapers, and his writing has appeared in Outside, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Health, and the Boston Globe Magazine. His work was also listed in The Best American Sportswriting 2017. He is a decorated veteran who served in Afghanistan and is in the Navy Reserve, where he is a public affairs officer, with the rank of lieutenant commander. He has taught English and writing at the United States Naval Academy, where he was given the school’s Instructor of the Year Award in 2019, and journalism at St. Michael’s College in Vermont. He lives with his wife and two kids in Delaware.

Event date: 
Monday, December 12, 2022 - 6:00pm
Event address: 
8 Broadway
Newport, RI 02840-2938
Over My Dead Body: Unearthing the Hidden History of America’s Cemeteries By Greg Melville Cover Image
ISBN: 9781419754852
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Abrams Press - October 4th, 2022

A Guide to Historic Burial Grounds in Newport (History & Guide) By Lewis Keen Cover Image
ISBN: 9781467150163
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: History Press - August 16th, 2021

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Greg Melville w/ Lew Keen 12/12 - RSVP

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