A Funeral in S-Town

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t listened to the S-Town series and don’t want details revealed prematurely, please move along. I’ll be discussing the full series here.[1]

It is impossible to listen to S-Town without being moved because the story of its central character, John B. McLemore, it is so intimate. John B. was: brilliant but combative; gregarious but cynical; a man who could talk to friends for hours yet still remain deeply lonely. It’s a complex portrait of a human being that is only achieved because S-Town’s narrator and producer, Brian Reed, so carefully weaves a narrative of many threads: friends near and far, lovers, and John B.s rambling exchanges with Brian.

Once you grasp the richness of McLemore’s life, you can appreciate that among the tragedies documented in the series — and there are many — John’s B.s funeral is the greatest tragedy of them all. Continue reading

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The Conversations We Never Had

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Death and the Maiden — Marianne Stokes

March 4th, 2017 marked the second anniversary of the death of my doctoral supervisor. As professors go, she was not typical: she didn’t speak or act in some of those “rarified” ways that cause people to think of academics as elites. She grew up in a working class neighbourhood, and worked “in the trenches,” so to speak, as a social worker before pursuing her PhD in Education, after the birth of her only child.[1] She was a single mother. She fought for society’s underdogs, and for a more just society. If injustice made her angry, she confronted it with a combination of determination and tough optimism. She was a fighter.

She also fought cancer. Her second bout with breast cancer occurred in 2013. Continue reading