In the Slender Margin

The Intimate Strangeness of Death and Dying

About The Book

Like Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, an extraordinarily moving and engaging look at loss and death.

Eve Joseph is an award-winning poet who worked for twenty years as a palliative care counselor in a hospice. When she was a young girl, she lost a much older brother, and her experience as a grown woman helping others face death, dying, and grief opens the path for her to recollect and understand his loss in a way she could not as a child. In the Slender Margin is an insider's look at an experience that awaits us all, and that is at once deeply fascinating, frightening, and in modern society shunned. The book is an intimate invitation to consider death and our response to it without fear or morbidity, but rather with wonder and a curious mind.

Writing with a poet's precise language and in short meditative chapters leavened with insight, warmth, and occasional humor, Joseph cites her hospice experience as well as the writings of others across generations—from the realms of mythology, psychology, science, religion, history, and literature—to illuminate the many facets of dying and death. Offering examples from cultural traditions, practices, and beliefs from around the world, her book is at once an exploration of the unknowable and a very humane journey through the land of grief.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Arcade (January 5, 2016)
  • Length: 224 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781628725834

Browse Related Books

Raves and Reviews

#17 on Publishers Weekly iBooks US Bestseller List - Health, Mind & Body

“Eve Joseph is quite simply a remarkable writer. Not only does she capture the painful and peaceful intimacy of death and dying in her book, In the Slender Margin, but she fuses together the stark reality of today’s healthcare system, with Hindu philosophy, great literature, lyrical poetry, world history and more—all linked with searing and unforgettable personal reflections.” —Lee Gutkind, editor, creative nonfiction

"Exceptional . . . [As a hospice worker, Joseph] called on everything in her experience in order to be with the dying. We can be grateful for that work, calling upon everything to give sorrow a voice."—Vancouver Sun

"Intricate and beautiful . . . Provides an intimate language for grief and makes death a site of wonder as much as pain. . . . In her careful prose, her encounters with the dead, dying and mourning take on a kind of grace."—National Post

“In the Slender Margin is intended as an exploration rather than a balm or solace, though it will no doubt be those things for some people. Its resonance comes, rather, from its intelligent open-endedness, its unflinching, simultaneous embrace of death’s reality and persistent mystery.”—Globe and Mail

“A fine blend of memoir, contemplation, and reporting by a woman who spent more than 20 years as a counselor in a Victoria, British Columbia, hospice. Joseph, an award-winning Canadian poet, explores the interconnections between death, language, and art. . . . The author writes with humor and grace, lines of other poets appear frequently in her text, and references to films, books, plays, and pop music abound. . . . This is not a how-to book, however; grieving readers will not find a road map to closure, but they can join a curious mind in a journey of exploration. A literate, free-association meditation on the final fact of life.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Luminous . . . Readers will discover an entire book full of such intuitive and satisfying musings.” —Publishers Weekly

“Eve Joseph has a poet’s sensibility, a well-stocked mind, a sturdy practicality and a wry sense of humor. She’s also a born storyteller. For all these reasons, I can’t think of a better companion for the tricky, profound territory between life and death—the slender margin.” —Katherine Ashenburg, author of The Mourner’s Dance: What We Do When People Die

“Elegant, coruscating and wise.” —Dionne Brand

“Like all great writers, Eve Joseph uses memory, research, and experience to explore the unknown. Her subject is death—the biggest mystery of all. A memoir based on the early death of her brother and the twenty years she spent working in palliative care, In the Slender Margin is a wise and lyrical meditation. Drawing on literature and memorial traditions and practices from around the world, this engaging book opens a conversation with readers that lingers long after the last page is turned.” —Sandra Martin, author of Working the Deadbeat: 50 Lives that Changed Canada

“With a poet's honest eye, from decades on the slender margin, Eve Joseph has done the miraculous, shining a light into everyone’s ultimate darkness. Her quest is respectful, wise, and contagious. In all seriousness, I have never enjoyed death so much.” —Bill Gaston, author of The World and Juliet Was a Surprise

"Offering both practicality and an exceptional sensitivity to the inherently confounding subject of death, In the Slender Margin is a soothing balm to any reader—grieving or not." —PsychCentral.com

“A compelling and breathtaking memoir about death and the end of life . . . It is accessible yet intimately personal. The book will be a comfort to readers who must confront death, either their own or as a survivor trying to grieve when faced with devastating loss.” —Healthy Lives Matter

#17 on Publishers Weekly iBooks US Bestseller List - Health, Mind & Body

“Eve Joseph is quite simply a remarkable writer. Not only does she capture the painful and peaceful intimacy of death and dying in her book, In the Slender Margin, but she fuses together the stark reality of today’s healthcare system, with Hindu philosophy, great literature, lyrical poetry, world history and more—all linked with searing and unforgettable personal reflections.” —Lee Gutkind, editor, creative nonfiction

"Exceptional . . . [As a hospice worker, Joseph] called on everything in her experience in order to be with the dying. We can be grateful for that work, calling upon everything to give sorrow a voice."—Vancouver Sun

"Intricate and beautiful . . . Provides an intimate language for grief and makes death a site of wonder as much as pain. . . . In her careful prose, her encounters with the dead, dying and mourning take on a kind of grace."—National Post

“In the Slender Margin is intended as an exploration rather than a balm or solace, though it will no doubt be those things for some people. Its resonance comes, rather, from its intelligent open-endedness, its unflinching, simultaneous embrace of death’s reality and persistent mystery.”—Globe and Mail

“A fine blend of memoir, contemplation, and reporting by a woman who spent more than 20 years as a counselor in a Victoria, British Columbia, hospice. Joseph, an award-winning Canadian poet, explores the interconnections between death, language, and art. . . . The author writes with humor and grace, lines of other poets appear frequently in her text, and references to films, books, plays, and pop music abound. . . . This is not a how-to book, however; grieving readers will not find a road map to closure, but they can join a curious mind in a journey of exploration. A literate, free-association meditation on the final fact of life.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Luminous . . . Readers will discover an entire book full of such intuitive and satisfying musings.” —Publishers Weekly

“Eve Joseph has a poet’s sensibility, a well-stocked mind, a sturdy practicality and a wry sense of humor. She’s also a born storyteller. For all these reasons, I can’t think of a better companion for the tricky, profound territory between life and death—the slender margin.” —Katherine Ashenburg, author of The Mourner’s Dance: What We Do When People Die

“Elegant, coruscating and wise.” —Dionne Brand

“Like all great writers, Eve Joseph uses memory, research, and experience to explore the unknown. Her subject is death—the biggest mystery of all. A memoir based on the early death of her brother and the twenty years she spent working in palliative care, In the Slender Margin is a wise and lyrical meditation. Drawing on literature and memorial traditions and practices from around the world, this engaging book opens a conversation with readers that lingers long after the last page is turned.” —Sandra Martin, author of Working the Deadbeat: 50 Lives that Changed Canada

“With a poet's honest eye, from decades on the slender margin, Eve Joseph has done the miraculous, shining a light into everyone’s ultimate darkness. Her quest is respectful, wise, and contagious. In all seriousness, I have never enjoyed death so much.” —Bill Gaston, author of The World and Juliet Was a Surprise

"Offering both practicality and an exceptional sensitivity to the inherently confounding subject of death, In the Slender Margin is a soothing balm to any reader—grieving or not." —PsychCentral.com

“A compelling and breathtaking memoir about death and the end of life . . . It is accessible yet intimately personal. The book will be a comfort to readers who must confront death, either their own or as a survivor trying to grieve when faced with devastating loss.” —Healthy Lives Matter

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images