Mark C. Taylor


On his book Field Notes from Elsewhere: Reflections on Dying and Living

Cover Interview of October 29, 2009


I hope Field Notes will find a wide audience with diverse backgrounds.  People’s age and experience will influence how they respond to this book more than to others.  Moreover, the response to the book will change over time.

Who, then, can I imagine reading this book?  Perhaps

A mother coping with the birth of a deformed child.

A son dealing with the raging grief of a father who has lost his wife of fifty years.

A young woman responding to the news that she has inoperable brain cancer.

A young man sitting at the bedside of his friend suffering DTs from heroin withdrawal.

Parents struggling with the problem of what to give and what to withhold from their children.

A father playing baseball with his son.

A middle-aged man consoling his lifelong mentor as he struggles to deal with his wife’s Alzheimer’s disease.

A mother dropping off her daughter for the first day of school.

A man looking back over a failed career.

A student trying to understand the betrayal of her teacher.

A couple burying their dead child.

A melancholy youth learning to laugh.

In the chapter titled “Night,” I write:

There is not one night; there are two.  The first night is the night that is the opposite of day and is familiar to all of us.  At the end of a long day, we welcome this night and look forward to the renewal it brings….  The other night is different; it is, paradoxically, within as well as beyond what we ordinarily know as day and night.  Far from familiar, it is forever strange; never reassuring, it is endlessly fascinating…. This night gives me no rest even when I am asleep.

We all know this night even if we do not give it a name.  If Field Notes from Elsewhere: Reflections on Dying and Living helps people get through this night beyond night, it will have accomplished its purpose.

© 2009 Mark Taylor