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Ordinary Grace

I just finished William Kent Krueger’s Ordinary Grace. Toward the end, there’s a fantastic description of a grave and gravedigging that could have come from my dad’s lips.

In the hardcover version, it’s on page 250:

“Gus had once told us that he came from a long line of Missouri gravediggers. ‘Famous in that part of Missouri,’ he said, only he pronounced it Missoura. ‘Folks would call on my grandpap or my dad to come dig the grave of a loved one. It’s not just digging, you know, boys. It’s carving a box in the earth that’s meant to receive and hold forever something very precious to someone. When it’s done right, folks look at it different from just a hole in the ground, and the time’ll come when you understand this for yourselves.”

Here’s how I describe Dad and his thoughts in my book:

“He wants to leave no trace of himself. People have a right to come here and not have to look at ugly gashes in the grass. Walt Kinder, one of Waseca’s funeral directors, likes to say visitors don’t want to be reminded a grave was dug. Dad doesn’t quite understand–how do they think bodies get into the ground?–but he plays along. So he sets a goal for himself at each grave: By the time he’s finished, by the time the dead are in their resting places, he wants it as if he wasn’t even here. He likes to think people imagine the body magically buried itself. That way, he knows he’s done a good job.”

William Kent Krueger. Hey, I thought I had the market on cemetery author photos!

William Kent Krueger. Hey, I thought I had the market on cemetery author photos!

I highly recommend Ordinary Grace. There’s a mystery storyline, but it also captures a time and place that has long past.