How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences


How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences

Sue William Silverman

American Lives Series

222 pages


March 2020


$19.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2020


$19.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2020


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

2021 Clara Johnson Award from Jane's Stories Press Foundation 
2020 Gold Winner for Autobiography & Memoir in the Foreword INDIES

Many are haunted and obsessed by their own eventual deaths, but perhaps no one as much as Sue William Silverman. This thematically linked collection of essays charts Silverman’s attempt to confront her fears of that ultimate unknown. Her dread was fomented in part by a sexual assault, hidden for years, that led to an awareness that death and sex are in some ways inextricable, an everyday reality many women know too well.
Through gallows humor, vivid realism, and fantastical speculation, How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences explores this fear of death and the author’s desire to survive it. From cruising New Jersey’s industry-blighted landscape in a gold Plymouth to visiting the emergency room for maladies both real and imagined to suffering the stifling strictness of an intractable piano teacher, Silverman guards her memories for the same reason she resurrects archaic words—to use as talismans to ward off the inevitable. Ultimately, Silverman knows there is no way to survive death physically. Still, through language, commemoration, and metaphor, she searches for a sliver of transcendent immortality.

Author Bio

Sue William Silverman is a memoirist, poet, and teacher of writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has published several books, including Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You; Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey through Sexual AddictionThe Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew (Nebraska, 2014); and Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir.


"Because of the distinctive subject matter and Silverman’s vast writing  talents, How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences will appeal to new and experienced readers alike; notably, it will also draw teachers of creative writing, who will cherish it for the many essays that can be taught as models of braided and segmented forms."—Jody Keisner, Hippocampus Magazine

"Honoring subconscious logic, How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences makes the gambit that the mysteries of the self are both keys to understanding and uncertainties to be celebrated. We become who we are without being fully conscious of our choices—probing those choices won’t give us easy answers, but the discoveries along the way will be illuminating and well worth the necessary befuddlements."—Elizabeth Kadetsky, Literary Hub

"What do we do with those memories that carry with them the ability to sink us? According to Silverman, in order to survive and grow, we have to collect them, transform them, and let them transform us."—Chanel Dubofsky, Lilith

"Silverman undertakes the questions some of us are too afraid to ask, and we find ourselves rooting for her, flying down Route 17, because in doing so we are also rooting for ourselves."—Rachel Rueckert, Columbia Journal

“A joyously unconventional memoir written at least in part as a hedge against mortality. It will shake loose memories, invite you to ponder, and, maybe best of all, make you laugh. This is a marvelously written, imaginative, and seriously funny book.”—Abigail Thomas, New York Times best-selling author of What Comes Next and How to Like It

“With true originality and wit, Silverman takes readers on a wild ride through time, memory, pleasure, and trauma. What remains is a deeply human portrait of one woman’s resilience and the power of her spirit. I couldn’t put it down.”—Christina Haag, New York Times best-selling author of Come to the Edge: A Love Story

“Though a book about death should be morbid and depressing, Silverman takes an unusual approach, packing both humor and wit into more than a dozen entertaining essays that may offer comfort to those dealing with death anxiety.”—Bitch Media
“The book’s title may suggest this is a morbid book; yet, Silverman in her own clever way leans towards tongue-in-cheek, mixing pop culture, literature, and history with her stories and, of course, her unending quest to survive.”—Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction

Table of Contents

Author’s Note    
Ultima Thule    

Fate 1
spins the thread of life

The Eternal Reign of Miss Route 17    
13 Ways of Surviving New Jersey    
Miss Route 17 Refuses to Grow Old    
The Three Fates: How Much Is the Moon Worth?     
The Remarkable Death-Defying Exploits of Miss Route 17    
Until My Number Comes Up    
Requiem for a Qwertyist    
My Death in the Family    
The Three Fates: Drawing the Shades    
A Member of the Wedding    

Fate 2
measures the thread of life to determine how long you live

The Sick Hypochondriac    
The Three Fates: On Tedium    
The Safe Side    
My Life as a Thanatologist    
The Janet Leigh Variations    
The Summer of Hate and Death    
Here Be Human Dragons    
Miss Route 17’s Near-Death Experience under the Boardwalk at the New Jersey Shore    
Sigilisms of Miss Route 17’s Many Hidden Talents    
Death Comes for the Poet    
Flirting with the Butcher    
The Three Fates and the Barefoot Angels    

Fate 3
cuts the thread of life with a pair of shears to decide how someone dies

At the Terminal Gate    
Miss Route 17’s Own Graceland    
Memorabilia: My Guardian Devils and the Phantom of the Opera Gloves    
The Three Fates: When You Go    
Of Chrysanthemums, Tupperware, Cremated Remains, and FedEx-ing to the Great Beyond    
Miss Route 17’s Blue Period    
The Three Fates: Filling in the Blanks    
On the Reliance of Verbs to Survive Death    
The Queen of Panmnesia    



2021 Clara Johnson Award from Jane's Stories Press Foundation 
2020 Gold Winner for Autobiography & Memoir in the Foreword INDIES

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