Beautiful Mausoleums

Going Out in Style: The Architecture of EternityGoing Out in Style: The Architecture of Eternity by Douglas Keister

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of the grandest picture books on my cemetery shelf. Douglas Keister was the photographer who documented San Francisco’s “Painted Ladies,” the magnificent and gaudy Victorian houses. His cemetery photographs range here from lush green spring-scapes to luminous cerulean summer days to sunset-warmed hillsides to bleak spotlit night visions. Keister knows how to present beauty at its best angle.

Unfortunately, the book would have benefited greatly from a list of addresses of the cemeteries included. (In fact, I was shocked not to find such contact information.) Its organization is so loose that it borders on confusing. Although the book includes a beautiful photograph from the leper colony on the island of Molokai in Hawaii, the bulk of the photographs hail from Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, New Orleans, and California. I’m sure there must be beautiful mausoleums elsewhere in the U.S., but they go unrepresented.

Despite that, Xavier Cronin’s text is easy to read and full of fun information. He was associate editor of American Cemetery magazine and the author of Grave Exodus: Tending to Our Dead in the 21st Century. He presents information I haven’t seen anywhere else when comparing American mausoleums to their inspirations from antiquity: the Parthenon (probably the most copied), the Athenian Tower of the Winds, Egypt’s Kiosk of Trajan (moved to avoid being flooded when the Aswan Dam was built), and the tomb of King Mausolus at Halicarnassus, one of the Wonders of the Ancient World.

Despite the crazy layout, whether you pore over the text or simply gaze at the photographs, you can’t go wrong with this book.  It is long out of print, but it does appear used on Amazon: Going Out in Style: The Architecture of Eternity

This review appeared a long time ago on Gothic.Net, back when I was writing my cemetery column.

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