Definitely definitely do not miss this Vanity Fair piece about what it was like to run a funeral home in New York at the height of the pandemic — I gotta warn you, there is some truly gruesome stuff involved, but the profiles of the staff members are such a shining example of what happens when you notice all the right details about a person to make the subjects of your story feel fully formed.
Also, if you want to get an idea for just how morbid it gets, this is just one of the sections that I think anyone will have a hard time forgetting:
Patrick had also learned from the New York City medical examiner’s office that bodies would be sent to a potter’s field on Hart Island if they weren’t claimed after six days. It bothered him that families might have their loved one buried in a mass grave because he didn’t have anywhere to store them, so he bought a $15,000 shipping container, which could hold 36 at a time, doubling his capacity. When Patrick inquired about it, the vendor told him he had to buy it outright. No one would rent it again after knowing what Patrick was going to do with it.
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