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Download The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries, by Marilyn Johnson Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (700 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Marilyn Johnson Narrator: Marilyn Johnson Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Marilyn Johnson was enthralled by the remarkable lives that were marching out of this world—so she sought out the best obits in the English language and the people who spent their lives writing about the dead. She surveyed the darkest corners of Internet chat rooms, and made a pilgrimage to London to savor the most caustic and literate obits of all. Now she leads us on a compelling journey into the cult and culture behind the obituary page and the unusual lives we don't quite appreciate until they're gone.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “What a wonderful surprise—a charming, lyrical book about the men and women who write obituaries. The Dead Beat is sly, droll, and completely winning.”

    David Halberstam, New York Times bestselling author of The Best and the Brightest

  • “A joyful book about obituaries? Absolutely! Marilyn Johnson pulls it off with death-defying grace, insight, charm, and wit. In the end, what a celebration of life!”

    Lee Eisenberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Number: A Completely Different Way to Think About the Rest of Your Life

  • “A fetching book about obituaries? Well, yes: Ms. Johnson writes about obituaries with the zeal—and insight— of an avid obit fan.”

    New York Times

  • Dead Beat never fails to entertain. Shunning the anthological approach, Johnson ties the book together with tales of the many writers responsible for the current vogue of obituaries and, of course, those lucky enough to be eulogized by them.” 

    Bookmarks magazine

  • “With care and an ear for gentle humor, Johnson guides her readers through the surprisingly structured, labyrinthine obit scene, pausing to meet the writers while pondering both the essence of our being and why, in the right hands, the life of an average Joe can be just as riveting as the shenanigans of a high-flying playboy. And infinitely more resonant.” 

    Amazon.com editorial review

  • “An amusing, often poignant, and continually amazing book, Johnson’s first effort is dead on.” 

    Barnes & Noble editorial review

  • “[Johnson has] written a warm, funny, appreciative book that...should live forever.”

    Roy Blount Jr., author of Feet on the Street: Rambles Around New Orleans

  • “A beautifully written, funny, and fascinating tour through the unexpectedly lively world of obituaries.”

    Lisa Grunwald, author of Women’s Letters: America from the Revolutionary War to the Present

  • “[A] quirky, accessible book.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “The short paragraphs in Marilyn Johnson’s audiobook bespeak her journalistic training. By hearing her own narration, listeners can also experience the writer’s personality in a way they couldn’t with a performance delivered by an actor.” 


  • “Humorous, engaging, and informative.”  


  • “An engaging study of today’s obituaries...[Johnson] keeps the subject light, with a humorous tone.”

    Library Journal

  • “A smart...take on journalism’s dark art.” 

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Trina | 2/9/2014

    " I think I would have enjoyed reading more of the actual obituaries. Time to reread 52 McGs. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Nicole | 1/29/2014

    " Apparently there are folks out there simply fascinated with reading the obituaries and there are equally unique individuals who enjoy the opportunity to describe the recently departed. This book details how one author's hobby with reading the obits morphs into meeting their authors and attending their small annual conference. The writers describe what drew them into the field and the novel is peppered with samples of various obits. If your only exposure to reading obituraries was noting casually those cited in your local paper, this novel reveals there is a lot more to this art than meets the eye. Many of the obits are attributed to ordinary folk, men and women who left this earth with the joys and failures of us all and the writers who pen their last written tribute take their craft seriously. It was enlightening but, as one would expect, a little on the dry side. Writers, journalists, and lovers of the macarb would probably enjoy reading this work. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by spenca | 1/26/2014

    " A brief glimpse of the obituary writers and their 'take' on what they do, how they do it. A quick read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Liz DeCoster | 1/25/2014

    " I was disappointed in this book. It was neither as funny or informative as similar non-fiction works I've read (e.g. Stiff), nor did it seem as coherent. "

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