March 2012

Amy Finkel

[Filmmaker]

micro-interviewed by Molly Oswaks

This issue features a microinterview with Amy Finkel, conducted by Molly Oswaks. Finkel’s first documentary film—Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart: The Banjomaniacs of Guthrie—was nominated in 2004 by the International Documentary Association for the prestigious Pare Lorentz Award. Her newest project, Furever, is an exploration of pet preservation, the processes by which a deceased pet is professionally conserved. Through expert interviews with grief counselors, pet preservationists of all sorts, and grieving pet owners, Finkel aims to open up a new perspective on grief, death, and mourning.

Microinterview with Amy Finkel, Part II

THE BELIEVER: Is there anything you’ve come across that seems dangerous or destructive?

AMY FINKEL: You can’t fault someone for loving their pet too much. But sometimes people so do not want to let go of their pet—they are so attached that they let their pet suffer at the end. It’s upsetting. Like, they let their dog live two weeks longer than it should. People like to hold off death as long as they possibly can. Hopefully preservation will make it so that people are less terrified, and they can euthanize on a quicker basis, and then get their pet back sooner.

I remember one experience. My rat had passed away––I think in Seattle rats have a better reputation than they do in New York. They’re very smart; she was cage-trained. I would come home from high school and she would sit on my shoulder for five hours sometimes. So we became very close. And of course, we project onto these pets, we anthropomorphize them, which I find endlessly fascinating as well. So we became close friends. And she passed away, and my parents were not home from work yet, and I remember being just devastated––and with small animals, rigor mortis sets in quite quickly, so here was this hardened, dead rat, and I’m holding on to it for probably an hour or two before my parents got home and pried her out of my hand… I didn’t want to let go yet.

There’s a little bit of a disconnect, sometimes, with my subjects, where they think that their preserved pet is still living. But beyond that, if preservation offers comfort, what’s the big deal?

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

Molly Oswaks is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn. Her work has been published by the Atlantic, Thought Catalog, mrbellersneighborhood.com, Electric Lit, and elsewhere. She is the night editor of Longshot magazine.

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