There are three things you need to be a smelt fisherman: a net, a bucket, and your thumb. There is only one thing you need to be a cadaver, and that’s to be dead. My father and I had gone smelt fishing each spring ever since I’d turned seven. Now it was 1972, I was a boy of ten, and Richard Nixon had just been reelected president. That was also the year my mother’s lump came back. My father was a doctor, and I’d been pestering him to let me see a real dead person, but he wasn’t sure that was a good idea.