Driving with Dead People: A Memoir
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Small wonder that, at nine years old, Monica Holloway develops a fascination with the local funeral home. With a father who drives his Ford pickup with a Kodak movie camera sitting shotgun just in case he sees an accident, and whose home movies feature more footage of disasters than of his children, Monica is primed to become a morbid child.
Yet in spite of her father's bouts of violence and abuse, her mother's selfishness and prim denial, and her siblings' personal battles and betrayals, Monica never succumbs to despair. Instead, she forges her own way, thriving at school and becoming fast friends with Julie Kilner, whose father is the town mortician.
She and Julie prefer the casket showroom, where they take turns lying in their favorite coffins, to the parks and grassy backyards in her hometown of Elk Grove, Ohio. In time, Monica and Julie get a job driving the company hearse to pick up bodies at the airport, yet even Monica's growing independence can't protect her from her parents' irresponsibility, and from the feeling that she simply does not deserve to be safe. Little does she know, as she finally strikes out on her own, that her parents' biggest betrayal has yet to be revealed.
Throughout this remarkable memoir of her dysfunctional, eccentric, and wholly unforgettable family, Monica Holloway's prose shines with humor, clear-eyed grace, and an uncommon sense of resilience. Driving with Dead People is an extraordinary real-life tale with a wonderfully observant and resourceful heroine.
after Dad had outgrown them. Then I saw Mammaw and Papaw. They came in through the back and were in terrible shape. As mean as Papaw was, he didn’t deserve this. Mammaw looked red-eyed and confused. They had lost a child. She couldn’t invent a salve for this kind of hurt. When Dad saw his parents, he hurried over and set up chairs for each of them. He asked Mom to get them coffee. I was watching someone I didn’t know. Even odder than seeing Dad as a loving brother and caring son was the image
twisted beyond recognition and the backboard lay in splinters. Then he threw the sledgehammer on top of the mess and said, “That’s the end of that.” The end of what? I wondered. The end of the basketball game? The end of the world? It was definitely the end of something. Jamie’s friends grabbed the basketball and headed over to the church to shoot hoops. Jamie stood there with tears of humiliation and rage rolling down his cheeks. Dad turned on him. “That’s right. Cry like a girl. I should make
became less about studying and more about parties. My roommate and I threw a luau in our dorm room, and I woke up the next morning to find vomit right outside my door. I nearly stepped in it when I walked out to pee. “Who the hell puked in front of my door and just left it here?” I bellowed down the hallway, where several doors were open. “You did!” came a voice from one of the rooms. I ducked back into my room and gingerly closed the door. Looking in the mirror over my dresser, I could see
department for almost five years, taking a couple classes each semester. She’d seen a lot of girls come through. “Why does he want girls to have surgery?” “He wants all women to look like someone he could fuck,” she said, not even looking up from her sewing. I could feel the shock and embarrassment moving up my neck in a steady red wave. I excused myself and went for a two-hour bike ride. I needed some air. The summer following my junior year at Kenyon, I was accepted to the Chautauqua
that created ticketing software for regional theatres. He moved to New Haven, Connecticut, and six months later I graduated with my master’s degree. After signing with a renowned talent agent who told me to move to Los Angeles for my career, I followed Daniel to Connecticut. Becky stayed in San Diego, where she had been promoted at the insurance company and was making an excellent salary. That summer I didn’t perform in a New York play, I didn’t join an excellent acting troupe, and I didn’t