A radical revaluation of how contemporary society perceives death—and an argument for how it can make us happy.
“He who would teach men to die would teach them to live,” writes Montaigne in Essais, and in How to Die: A Book about Being Alive, Ray Robertson takes up the challenge. Though contemporary society avoids the subject and often values the mere continuation of existence over its quality, Robertson argues that the active and intentional consideration of death is neither morbid nor frivolous, but instead essential to our ability to fully value life. How to Die is both an absorbing excursion through some of Western literature’s most compelling works on the subject of death as well as an anecdote-driven argument for cultivating a better understanding of death in the belief that, if we do, we’ll know more about what it means to live a meaningful life.
Ray Robertson is the author of nine novels, five collections of non-fiction, and a book of poetry. His work has been translated into several languages. He contributed the liner notes to two Grateful Dead archival releases: Dave’s Picks #45 and the Here Comes Sunshine 1973 box set. Born and raised in Chatham, Ontario, he lives in Toronto.
Praise for Ray Robertson
“Robertson is a moral writer and a bitingly intelligent one, a man who writes with penetrating insight of what needs to be written about: beauty, truth and goodness.”—Globe and Mail
“Sharp-tongued . . . as Robertson ponders family and home as well as ‘what it means to love someone and to lose someone and to have to go on living anyway,’ he presents an intriguing character whose very real troubles are offset by bright flashes of hope.”—Publishers Weekly
“Clear-eyed . . . Robertson is no stranger to confronting unsavoury truths.”—Steven Beattie
“Heartfelt, funny, rigorous, practical without ever being preachy . . . a book that feels like a friend.”—Montreal Gazette
“Sly wit and keen observation . . . an exceptional novel by one of the country’s finest literary voices.”— National Post