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28 Feb 24

Writer Heidi Julavits discusses her recent nonfiction work, details a story about her obsession with the estate of a dead French actress, and shows her attempts at book publicity in the era of TikTok. She also explores the quickly evolving end-of-life policies around the world. Her point of departure is the dual suicide of a coastal couple in her home state of Maine. Afflicted by degenerative conditions, they sent a suicide note to the local paper, and cited as factors in their decision climate change and the seeming inefficacy of policies to halt it. To lessen their own impact on the environment and the economy, they refused to be kept alive by machines. Julavits’s account addresses end-of-life “culture” and politics, memorial traditions, and the myriad considerations of inheritance, real estate, and geography that come in death’s wake.

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