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

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Skyhorse Publishing Inc., 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 240 pages
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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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User Review  - picardyrose - LibraryThing

A feckless youth grows tiresome. Read full review

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About the author (2009)

Charles Wilkins lives near Lake Superior in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

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