The front page of Sunday’s New York Times featured a list of one thousand names of Americans who have died from coronavirus. At the time of publication, the COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. was just over 96,000, which the Times described as “an incalculable loss.”
The acts of remembering, of witnessing suffering, of sitting with death and the dying are all central to Rachel Kauder Nalebuff’s new book, Stages: On Dying, Working, and Feeling, a creative hybrid nonfiction work in which she chronicles her two years as “writer-in-residence” staging plays with the staff and residents at The Hebrew Home at Riverdale senior services center.
For today’s special Memorial Day episode, Patty spends the hour talking to Rachel Kauder Nalebuff about the overlooked and undervalued care work that is vital to society, our responsibility to the elderly, the civic, social, and therapeutic purposes of art, and the immense cultural and personal significance of time and memory, of death and dying.
Rachel Kauder Nalebuff is a writer, playwright, and lecturer in the English Department at Brooklyn College. Her work centers on performance and oral history. She is the editor of My Little Red Book (Hachette, 2009), co-editor of The Feminist Utopia Project (Feminist Press, 2015), and author of Stages: On Dying, Working, and Feeling (Thick Press, 2020)