Thomas Lynch’s Bodies in Motion and at Rest by Glenn Moomau

Part of the Editor's Choice series.

BOMB 72 Summer 2000
Bombcover 72 1024X1024
Robert Turney

Photo by Robert Turney. Courtesy of W.W. Norton and Company.

Thomas Lynch’s first collection of essays, The Undertaking, achieved notoriety in part because its author—a small town funeral director and poet—wrote about the delicate job of managing his neighbor’s passing. Bodies in Motion and at Rest, his second collection, again confronts us with refreshing existential reminders, as seen through the lens of a man dealing with death on a daily basis. “There is nothing like the sight of a dead human body to assist with the living in separating the good days from the bad ones.”

Unlike his first book, Bodies in Motion and at Rest does not depend as much upon the strangeness of the mortician’s trade. Rather, Lynch has stretched his subject matter to embrace wider, and, at the same time, more personal, themes. His essays chart human contraction and search for meaning in seemingly unrelated apparitions, often embodied in Lynch himself: funeral director and poet, father and son, Catholic and skeptic. In “Reno,” speaking of the paradoxical kinship between his two vocations, Lynch bares the connection with ease: “Funerals tune our senses to our mortal nature; like proper punctuation, whether we end with exclamation, questions or full stop, they lend meaning to our lives, our human being.”

While in the essays in which emotional instability—the failures of marriage, children, and middle age—is explored, Lynch can’t quite contain these volatile experiences, he succeeds in rendering them with a jagged eloquence. The best of these is “Y2Kat,” in which the long life of a child’s pet becomes the vehicle for Lynch’s own moral and artistic inventory, beginning with the memorable: “By the time you read this the cat will be dead.”

—Glenn Moomau


Thomas Lynch’s Bodies in Motion and at Rest has just been published by W. W. Norton & Company.

Borrowed Times  by Gary Indiana
Bomb 21 Turkle Body
The Edge of a Life: Jo Ann Beard Interviewed by Chelsea Hodson
Festival Days6

On writing about assisted suicide, taking time to study the consciousness of mushrooms, and freeing herself from the labor of the sentence.

Douglas Crimp’s Dance Dance Film Essays by Rosalyn Deutsche
Triciabrown Ber4610 Copy

At some point in the late ’70s, when Douglas Crimp and I were art history doctoral students at the Graduate Center, CUNY, he invited me to the ballet.

Nathalie Léger by Amanda DeMarco
Nathalie Leger Triptych Revised 2

The archivist and writer’s recently translated triptych fuses autofiction, essay, and criticism to study the complex lives of three female artists in the public eye.

Originally published in

BOMB 72, Summer 2000

Featuring interviews with Om Puri, Uncle Mame, Donald Baechler, Monique Prieto, Aleksandar Hemon, Paul Beatty, Arthur C. Danto, Julien Temple, and Miriam Makeba.

Read the issue
Bombcover 72 1024X1024