The Last Good Funeral of the Year

The Last Good Funeral of the Year

Written by: O’Loughlin, Ed

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From Ed O’Loughlin, author of Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist Minds of Winter, a pensive and poignant recollection of love, loss, marriage, and the life events that have shaped his identity.

Soon, the lockdown would start. People would die alone, without any proper ceremony. Charlotte’s death would be washed away, the first drop in a downpour. Nobody knew it then, but hers would be the last good funeral of the year. 

It was February 2020 when Ed O’Loughlin unexpectedly heard that Charlotte, a friend from the old days, had just died young and before her time. He realized that he was being led to reappraise his life, his family, and his career as a foreign correspondent and novelist in a new, colder light.

This search for meaning becomes the driving theme of O’Loughlin’s year of confinement. The result is a haunting examination of the author’s early life and love, the journalists and photographers with whom he covered wars in Africa and the Middle East, the suicide of his brother, his new work as an author, a family home on the edge of a graveyard, and the mysteries of memory, aging, and loss. He was suddenly faced with facts that he had been ignoring, that he was getting old, that he wasn’t what he used to be, that his imagination, always over-active, had at some point reversed its direction, switching production from dreams to regrets. 

Moving, funny, and searingly honest, The Last Good Funeral of the Year takes the reader on a circular journey from present to past and back to the present: “Could any true story end any other way?”

From Ed O’Loughlin, author of Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist Minds of Winter, a pensive and poignant recollection of love, loss, marriage, and the life events that have shaped his identity.

Soon, the lockdown would start. People would die alone, without any proper ceremony. Charlotte’s death would be washed away, the first drop in a downpour. Nobody knew it then, but hers would be the last good funeral of the year. 

It was February 2020 when Ed O’Loughlin unexpectedly heard that Charlotte, a friend from the old days, had just died young and before her time. He realized that he was being led to reappraise his life, his family, and his career as a foreign correspondent and novelist in a new, colder light.

This search for meaning becomes the driving theme of O’Loughlin’s year of confinement. The result is a haunting examination of the author’s early life and love, the journalists and photographers with whom he covered wars in Africa and the Middle East, the suicide of his brother, his new work as an author, a family home on the edge of a graveyard, and the mysteries of memory, aging, and loss. He was suddenly faced with facts that he had been ignoring, that he was getting old, that he wasn’t what he used to be, that his imagination, always over-active, had at some point reversed its direction, switching production from dreams to regrets. 

Moving, funny, and searingly honest, The Last Good Funeral of the Year takes the reader on a circular journey from present to past and back to the present: “Could any true story end any other way?”

Published By House of Anansi Press Inc — Mar 15, 2022
Specifications 208 pages | 5.5 in x 8.5 in
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Excerpt
Written By

ED O’LOUGHLIN is an Irish Canadian author and journalist. He is the author of four novels, including the Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist Minds of Winter, the critically acclaimed Toploader, and the Booker Prize–longlisted Not Untrue and Not Unkind. As a journalist, Ed has reported from Africa for several papers, including the Irish Times. He was the Middle East correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age of Melbourne. Ed was born in Toronto and raised in Ireland. He now lives in Dublin with his wife and two children.

Written By

ED O’LOUGHLIN is an Irish Canadian author and journalist. He is the author of four novels, including the Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist Minds of Winter, the critically acclaimed Toploader, and the Booker Prize–longlisted Not Untrue and Not Unkind. As a journalist, Ed has reported from Africa for several papers, including the Irish Times. He was the Middle East correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age of Melbourne. Ed was born in Toronto and raised in Ireland. He now lives in Dublin with his wife and two children.

What I found here was an exquisite portrait of grief – how it is timeless, utterly self-absorbing, perhaps even self-indulgent. How it visits us in dreams, sneaking past our conscious minds and our unique talents, subsuming our wounds and our idiosyncrasies.  How it takes us and deposits us just where we must be – in the shock of cold, clean waters, in the beautiful and the terrible surge of now.

” —

Ed O’Loughlin is a natural storyteller, a good one, and he invites the reader right alongside in his honest search for meaning through reminiscence, memory, and adventure. With precision and expertise, he probes past and present chapters of his life, all the while imparting his own brand of wisdom and humour. A great pleasure to read!

” —

War correspondent, father, husband, son, friend, and grieving brother — Ed O’Loughlin has given us a powerful and unusual memoir. At times heartbreaking and often laugh-aloud funny, The Last Good Funeral is set to be among the very best of books for 2022.

” —Sunday Times

Deftly and with increasing assurance, O’Loughlin weaves the tapestry of a life, pulling at the threads and dropped stitches of experience that have brought him to this difficult time and place … A soul-baring account of love in the time of cholera.

” —Sunday Times

An absorbing, meditative text, equally affectionate and unflinching, engaging head-on with the pain of saying farewell to youth and accepting mortality … A moving testament to the paths that lost loved ones, however briefly they were known, can still lead us on.

” —Irish Times

[A] beautiful and curious memoir … unflinching in the face of tragedy — but, more than that, it is a robust examination of memory in its most ineffable form.

” —Business Post

There are so many good things here you get the feeling that he has negotiated his way past the rocks of his own reluctance about writing about himself and can’t really believe that he’s managed it.

” —Irish Independent

The past is a revenant that haunts the present in this exquisite and startling memoir by Ed O’Loughlin. The Last Good Funeral of the Year is a witty, engaging, heartbreaking, and beautifully wrought tour through the workings of memory, all unearthed during the world’s great period of lockdown stillness. The stories and their people will remain with you long after finishing this book.

” —Emily Urquhart, author of The Age of Creativity

The Last Good Funeral of the Year is intelligent, funny, profound, painfully honest, beautifully written, and powerfully moving. Ed O’Loughlin is a writer who does brilliantly everything he turns his hand to; it’s no surprise to find that his memoir is so unforgettably good.

” —Kevin Power, author of White City