Furnishing Eternity

A Father, a Son, a Coffin, and a Measure of Life

Furnishing Eternity

“Giffels does well as a voice of the Midwest…but this is for everyone.” —Library Journal

From the acclaimed author of The Hard Way on Purpose, a vibrant, heartfelt memoir about confronting mortality, surviving loss, finding resilience in one’s Midwest roots and seeking a father’s wisdom through an unusual woodworking project—constructing his own coffin.

David Giffels grew up fascinated by his father’s dusty, tool-strewn workshop and the countless creations—some practical, others fantastical—it inspired. So when he enlisted his eighty-one-year-old dad to help him with the unusual project of building his own casket, he thought of it mostly as an opportunity to sharpen his woodworking skills and to spend time together. But life, as it usually does, had other plans.

The unexpected deaths of his mother and, a year later, his best friend, coupled with the dawning realization that his father wouldn’t be around forever for such offbeat adventures—and neither would he—led to a harsh confrontation with mortality and loss.

Over the course of several seasons, Giffels returned to his father’s barn in rural Ohio, a place cluttered with heirloom tools, exotic wood scraps, and long memory, to continue a pursuit that grew into a meditation on grief and optimism, a quest for enlightenment, and a way to cherish time with an aging parent.

With wisdom and humor, Giffels grapples with some of the hardest questions we all face as he and his father saw, hammer, and sand their way through a year bowed by loss. Furnishing Eternity is the story of a family searching for hope in its roots and the unexpected truths we arrive at in the process of creating and constructing.

Heartfelt, unvarnished, and piercing with insight, this powerful memoir is Giffels’s most intimate exploration yet of the values and traditions that illuminate the Midwest.
  • Scribner | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501105944 | 
  • January 2018
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Read an Excerpt

More Books from this Author

The Hard Way on Purpose

About the Author

David Giffels
Photograph by Tim Fitzwater

David Giffels

David Giffels is the author of The Hard Way on Purpose: Essays and Dispatches From the Rust Belt, nominated for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, the memoir All the Way Home, winner of the Ohioana Book Award, and Furnishing Eternity. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic.com, Parade, the Wall Street Journal, Esquire.com, Grantland.com, Redbook, and many other publications. He also was a writer for the MTV series Beavis and Butt-Head. He is an associate professor of English at the University of Akron, where he teaches creative nonfiction in the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts Program.

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