In 1990, when Andrew Meredith was 14 years-old, his family fell apart. The downfall was caused by his 50 year-old father, a teacher fired from La Salle College in Pennsylvania after he was accused of sexual misconduct with a female student. The scandal and its lasting impact on the lives of his mother, sister and himself bind this powerfully drawn, often wrenching debut memoir, The Removers. The story of Meredith's experiences working alongside his father, who later found work as a "remover," taking away the bodies of people who died in their own homes, becomes the central thread and metaphor for the dissolution of his family.
A remover is someone who is "paid to be invisible . . . We are men made to be forgotten." Fortunately for the reader, however, Meredith never forgets incidents from an 18-year period in his life, which vividly recall details from his often gruesome, sometimes exhilarating, experiences in handling corpses while grappling with his bitterness toward a father who broke his heart.
Meredith's fluid, unabashed prose is delivered in a stream-of-consciousness style interspersed with scenes of how he floundered for fifteen years after high school. He worked a job he didn't want, taking ten years to finish college, and endured a series of failed romantic relationships. After ultimately moving to California, Meredith missed his hometown—the Frankford neighborhood of Philadelphia. Might his work with the dead have been his true professional calling, his salvation? Meredith's circuitous journey of self-discovery, his trying to reconcile his life by working with the dead, will fascinate those interested in the mysteries of life and death.
The Removers: A Memoir by Andrew Meredith
Scribner, 24.00 Hardcover, 9781476761213, 179 pp
Publication Date: July 15, 2014
Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Readers (7/25/14), click HERE