I’m not Swedish, not even remotely Scandinavian. But these days any title with death in it attracts my interest. As Margareta Magnusson, who says she is somewhere between 80 and 100, puts it in the introduction to her The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning (2018), the “only thing we know for sure is that we will die one day.” My cancer, while dire, has given me seven years of reprieve from the death sentence of late stage lung cancer. Even without that, age alone would have given me a hint that it might be a good idea to think about the physical contents of the closets and drawers, bookshelves and file cabinets, of my Upper West Side apartment. Although the threat of posthumous clutter does not loom large in my contemplation of mortality—the ultimate rite of passage– it would be untruthful to say that I don’t care at all that the mess I’m likely to leave behind will be a problem for someone to deal with. Continue reading on Avidly »
Editor’s note: Nancy K. Miller’s essay appears in “Avidly, A Channel of the Los Angeles Review of Books.” Image: Brödbaket, 1889 by Anders Zorn.