The Last Good Funeral of the Year is Irish-Canadian writer Ed O’Loughlin’s last book. It is a memoir, and it is an unusual one. I loved some parts of it, and I felt lost in other parts. Still, it made me look at the last years and think about how my life has changed. Interesting, isn’t it? Humans get accustomed to everything no matter how strange, and sometimes we don’t even think about it; we just get used to the new circumstances.
In The Last Good Funeral of the Year, Ed O’Loughlin thinks hard about his life with the death of his ex-girlfriend, Charlotte, from twenty-five years ago. As you can guess, Charlotte’s funeral is the last good funeral of the year because it takes place at the beginning of the pandemic, with loved ones attending the funeral. And then, the writer thinks about Charlotte, when he last saw her, and her life.
After a while, he reminiscences about his brother Simon, who killed himself years ago. And the rest just spirals, and as the reader, you find yourself listening to Ed O’Loughlin even though sometimes it makes no sense because you know that he needs to say these and get them out of his system. There is an urgency with his writing, and at times, it feels like he doesn’t want to forget anything, so he reminds himself of all the things he went through. Or maybe that’s just me, reflecting on my own things from the past.
The Last Good Funeral of the Year is an interesting memoir. I enjoyed Ed O’Loughlin’s writing and finished the book quickly. But I wished that there was something that ties it all together and that would make it more memorable. If you love reading memoirs, be sure to check this out. Enjoy!
The Last Good Funeral of the Year
The Last Good Funeral of the Year: 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 heard that Charlotte, a woman he’d known had died, young and before her time. He realised that he was being led to reappraise his life, his family and his career as a foreign correspondent and acclaimed novelist in a new, colder light.
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. He saw he was mourning his former self, not Charlotte.
The search for meaning becomes the driving theme of O’Loughlin’s year of confinement. He remembers his brother Simon, a suicide at thirty; the journalists and photographers with whom he covered wars in Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans, wars that are hard to explain and never really stopped; his habit of shedding baggage, an excuse for hurrying past and not dwelling on things.
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 kind of way?’
Ed O’Loughlin was born in Toronto, Canada, and grew up in Kildare town, Ireland. After studying English at Trinity College Dublin, he worked as a reporter in Dublin for the Dublin Tribune and the Irish Times. He later reported from Africa for the Irish Times, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the Independent of London, Christian Science Monitor and others, and was Middle East correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age of Melbourne.
Since returning to Dublin, he has written and reported for the New York Times, Economist, Atlantic, Irish Times, Times Literary Supplement and others.
His first novel, Not Untrue & Not Unkind was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2009 and shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award. His second novel, Toploader, a darkly comic vision of the “war against terror”, was published by Quercus in 2011. His third novel, Minds of Winter, was published by riverrun in August 2016.
It was a finalist for the Giller Prize and long-listed for the Sir Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction. A fourth novel, This Eden, a tech thriller, is published by riverrun and House of Anansi in June 2021. The Last Good Funeral of the Year is his last book.
He lives in Dublin with his wife Nuala Haughey and two children.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: