Winner of the 2019 Monadnock Essay Collection Prize
Baptizing the Dead and Other Jobs tells a coming of age story set in the heart of Mormon Country: Utah County, Utah. These essays weave together a timeline of salt flats grit and labor—7/11 clerk, telemarketer, custodian, and more—to explore deeper questions of how to be of a place, and how to quit it. A meditation on lost faith, lost friends, and the longing for familiar landscapes and rituals that bind us to ourselves and one another, this collection is a love song to the American West, and a farewell.
Monadnock Essay Collection Prize judge, and author of Brazen Creature
I was struck from the first sentence by the crystalline narrative voice—sometimes uncanny, sometimes weird, but always precise, unflinching, and painfully self-aware—and the experimentation with form as a way to dig deeper and question ideas of religion, family, place, community, masculinity, death, and the self. These essays, and their narrator, wouldn’t shake from me after I read them. I wholeheartedly recommend Baptizing the Dead and Other Jobs.
author of Salvation on Sand Mountain
Baptizing the Dead and Other Jobs is not about Mormonism. It’s about the human condition, and the brilliant nonfiction writer Michael Palmer has nailed it in this collection. The first and last essays are masterpieces of the current form. It’s a mix of the traditional and the experimental, exactly what American literature has been since its beginning. Nothing is predictable in this book. That’s why it’s nothing less than art.
Michael William Palmer‘s work has appeared in Bellingham Review, CutBank, Georgetown Review, The Collagist, Alligator Juniper, West Texas Literary Review, and numerous other publications. He received his PhD in English-Creative Writing from Texas Tech University. He grew up in Utah and currently lives in Forest Park, Illinois. Baptizing the Dead and Other Jobs is his first book.