Wylene Dunbar
My Life with Corpses

My Life with Corpses: A Novel

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Wylene Dunbar blends a sharply defined reality with a soaring, surreal leap of imagination in this story of an enigmatic narrator we know only as Oz, who was raised on a Kansas farm by a family of corpses.

Since she was rescued by an iconoclastic neighbor named Winfield Evan Stark, now long dead, Oz has stayed far away from her childhood home. However, Mr. Stark’s grave has recently turned up empty -- occupied only by a pristine copy of Oz’s narrative of her early life, entitled "My Life with Corpses." Oz, a professor of philosophy, returns to help find his body, hoping to receive the message she knows he is trying to send her. As she  waits for two amiable workmen to dig up a neighboring gravesite to see if Mr. Stark might have switched resting spots, Oz reveals the peculiar details of her life and shares her hard-won experience in detecting and avoiding the living corpsedom that has befallen her family and so many others around her.

Oz recognizes and escapes a life of being dead by the narrowest of margins. Her story is both a triumph and a cautionary tale, revealing how life can seep treacherously away but also showing us how it can be restored again. Disturbing and compelling, poignant and funny, My Life with Corpses is narrated with an irresistible combination of intellect, irony, and outright sorcery. Indeed, if Samuel Beckett had been born in Kansas, this is the book he might have written.

"blackly humorous, cerebral novel . . . straight-faced candor . . . an uncannily convincing evocation of death and its counterpart, life." --Publishers Weekly

"Dunbar's quirky exploration of the thin line between life and death will appeal to fans of surrealistic fiction. . . ." --Booklist

"Wylene Dunbar found a wonderful central metaphor for My Life with Corpses, and then invested it with life, passion, and an eerie resonance into the spirit of these troubled times. It is a stunning new novel." --Robert Olen Butler, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

"My Life with Corpses is overwhelming: in its beauty, emotional force, and uniqueness. While I finished the book a few weeks ago already, I have the strange feeling that I'm still reading it -- it's that resonant." --Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Everything is Illuminated

"My Life with Corpses is an ode on the west wind to what the dead make of us and we of them. It hurts, but it doesn’t hurt that it’s deadly funny." --Barry Gifford, author of Wyoming

"Wylene Dunbar’s evocative prose, her sense of humor and her deep wisdom make My Life with Corpses a rewarding journey—for the heart no less than the mind." --Steve Yarbrough, author of Visible Spirits

"This is an extraordinary work of fiction. Oz is unforgettable: her story will stay with you long after you have finished reading the book." --Dean Faulkner Wells, author of Ghosts of Rowan Oak

"Throughout, author Dunbar displays a distinct talent for the eerie, as well as a stalwart dedication to her intriguing central metaphor: Her subject is never death, but the absence of any recognizable form of life.  --Nashville Scene

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Published by Harcourt
June 2004; $24.00US; 0151010153

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Wylene Dunbar
Author of My Life with Corpses
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