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Conversation with Greg Melville and Todd Harra

Conversation with Greg Melville and Todd Harra

Online & In-Person


Join us in the library or online for a conversation with Greg Melville, author of Over My Dead Body: Unearthing the Hidden History of America’s Cemeteries, a lively tour through the history of US cemeteries that explores how, where, and why we bury our dead. Joining Greg is Todd Harra, author of Last Rites: The Evolution of the American Funeral, the untold story of American funeral and mourning tradition.

Melville’s Over My Dead Body is a lively (pun intended) and wide-ranging history of cemeteries, places that have mirrored the passing eras in history but have also shaped it. Cemeteries have given birth to landscape architecture and famous parks, as well as influenced architectural styles. They’ve inspired and motivated some of our greatest poets and authors—Emerson, Whitman, Dickinson. They’ve been used as political tools to shift the country’s discourse and as important symbols of the United States' ambition and reach. But they are changing and fading. Embalming and burial is incredibly toxic, and while cremations have just recently surpassed burials in popularity, they’re not great for the environment either. Over My Dead Body explores everything — history, sustainability, land use, and more —and what it really means to memorialize.

Harra’s book is the untold story of the American funeral and mourning tradition. Ceremonies for honoring the departed are crucial parts of our lives, but few people know where our traditional practices come from—and what they reveal about our history, culture, and beliefs about death. Last Rites takes you on a fascinating exploration of American funeral practices—examining where they came from, what they mean, and how they are still evolving.

Greg Melville has worked as an outdoor journalist and a former editor at Men’s Journal and Hearst magazines. He has strong connections with magazines and newspapers, and his writing has appeared in Outside, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Health, and the Boston Globe Magazine. His work was also listed in The Best American Sportswriting 2017. He is a decorated veteran who served in Afghanistan and is in the Navy Reserve, where he is a Public Affairs Officer, with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He has taught English and writing at the United States Naval Academy, where he was given the school’s instructor of the year award in 2019, and journalism at St. Michael’s College in Vermont. He lives with his wife and two kids in Delaware.

Todd Harra has over a decade of experience as a licensed funeral director and embalmer and is a certified postmortem reconstructionist and cremationist. He has written two nonfiction books about the profession, Mortuary Confidential and Over Our Dead Bodies, and is an associate editor for Southern Calls, a renowned journal in the funeral profession. He is the president of the Delaware State Funeral Directors Association.

We invite you to support the author by purchasing a copy of their book from Browseabout Books by clicking HERE. Call-in orders are accepted at (302) 226-2665 or you can stop by the store to purchase a copy. For store hours, please visit their website. Each copy purchased comes signed. Books will be available for sale and for signing at the event.

NOTE: this session is available to attend in-person or through Zoom. You MUST REGISTER and indicate which you prefer.

If you have need assistance with registration or getting your Zoom invitation, please email us.

Basic written instructions for using Zoom may be found here and a brief video tutorial may be found here. Closed captioning is available for all our sessions. Information on enabling closed captioning in Zoom may be found here.

This is an online event. Event URL will be sent via registration email.
Thursday, November 10, 2022
5:00pm - 6:00pm Eastern Time
Large Meeting Room
Lewes Public Library
  Adults     Older Adults  
  Book Discussions  
Registration has closed.