In the Land of Long Fingernails: A Gravedigger in the Age of Aquarius

Front Cover
Skyhorse Publishing Inc., 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 240 pages
13 Reviews

In the summer of 1969, Charlie Wilkins was a young man in search of a job. Turned down by a dozen potential employers--including Shubang Used Tire and Dick's Nifty Car Wash--Wilkins landed an unlikely job at a vast corporate cemetery as a "bone waxer," handling "bird-houses" (urns), and earning an invaluable education about life as a caregiver in death.

From reckless disinterments, to a mid-summer gravediggers' strike, to the illegal shifting of bones from untended graves, In the Land of Long Fingernails is a coming-of-age story among extraordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. It offers up a Barnum-esque cavalcade of "slay carpenters," "dirt nappers," mavericks and misfits, shifty plot salesmen, and drug-addled gravediggers, yet it also shows us their uncertainty and superstitions, and their relentless gallows humor amid the inevitable reminders of what it is, finally, to be human.

In the funny and dark spirit of Thomas Lynch's best-selling "The Undertaking," Mary Roach's hit "Stiff," and "Six Feet Under," "In the Land of Long Fingernails" is a testament not just to unexpected friendship but also to late sixties culture, and to the art and power of storytelling.

  

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Review: In the Land of Long Fingernails

User Review  - Anne - Goodreads

This slim memoir of five months of employment in a suburban graveyard in Toronto in 1969 is a real treat. It feeds all of your senses and has a great cast of motley characters, who couldn't be ... Read full review

Review: In the Land of Long Fingernails

User Review  - Sharon - Goodreads

In the summer of 1969, Charles Wilkins, then a university student, took a five month summer job as a gravedigger in a Toronto cemetery, otherwise aptly termed 'the land of long fingernails'. If the ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

And So It Begins
11
A Young Man of Spiritual Inclinations
25
The Harmony of the Peaceable Kingdom
33
Cemetery Conduct
43
The Practice of Inefficiency
57
The Profitable Phase of Death
65
Deaths Little Acre
77
No Time to Croak
87
The Business of Being Alive
131
Imperfect Possibilities
143
The Land of Low Expectations
149
No More Bullshit
161
The Most Liberated Locality on Earth
185
As Deeply Adrift as Ever
193
Housekeeping and Human Disposition
203
A Wide and Shapely Stage
223

The Pace of Microbes and Worms
105
A Loner and a Rose Gardener
113
The Remains of the Day
121
Acknowledgments
239
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

Charles Wilkins lives near Lake Superior in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He is the author of over a dozen books.

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