One Last Lunch: A Final Meal with Those Who Meant So Much to Us

Abrams. May 2020. 352p. ISBN 9781419735325. $25. LIT
Who would you pick to dine with one more time? Editor and memoirist Heller (YossarianSlept Here) asked friends and family of authors, artists, musicians, and other personalities to imagine one last meal with their dearly departed. The result is a sometimes heartfelt, sometimes underwhelming collection of essays exploring the many ways in which we experience grief and the possibility of a second chance. The 50 essays include last meals with notables such as David Bowie, Christopher Hitchens, Steve Jobs, Richard Pryor, and Kurt Vonnegut. Familiarity with the subjects is beneficial, as some entries are very specific, which may be a hindrance to being appreciated fully. The pieces that shine strike a balance between the writer and subject and provide meaningful insight into their relationship, such as Sara Moulton’s lunch with Julia Child and Anne Serling’s date with her father, Rod Serling. Of note are the entries that evoke universal appeal, such as Phyllis Raphael’s heartbreaking goodbye to her grandson and Adrian G. Lesser’s reflections on Oliver Sacks.
VERDICT A thought-provoking, albeit uneven, compilation with varied insights into grief, mourning, reconciliation, and forgiveness. Recommended where literary anthologies are popular.
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