I got a copy of Apparition & Late Fictions (2010), the debut fiction collection of essayist and poet Thomas Lynch, through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. After I started reading it, I realized that I had actually read one of the stories ("Hunter's Moon") when it appeared in Granta a few years ago, and really liked it at the time.
In addition to being a published author, Lynch has run the funeral home that he inherited from his father since the mid-1970s. [And he wrote a collection of essays about the business, The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade that was nominated for a National Book Award in the 1990s, and which I'd really like to read.] The theme of death and loss runs through all the short stories and the novella in this collection -- sometimes overtly (a young funeral home director who tends to a widow's dead husband and later her dead daughter; a coffin salesman who is mourning the death of his third wife and the long-ago loss of his daughter; a young man who takes his father fishing for the last time), and sometimes more subtly (a wealthy and respected professor, the widow of a famous poet, who isolates herself at a Michigan resort and becomes obsessed with a beautiful young Jamaican waitress; a former Methodist minister who finds success on the lecture circuit after writing a self-help book about prospering after a divorce, but who can't resist touring himself around the resort island where his ex-wife had her first affair).
All the stories are written with a light touch, and Lynch gives us a fleshed out and lived-with description of the landscape and characters of the Upper Midwest. I really enjoyed this solid collection of fiction, and I look forward to reading Lynch in some of his other genres.