Carol Muske-Dukes' new novel Life After Death (Random House) is the story of a woman who, one day, says to her husband in anger "Why don't you just die?" The next day, he drops dead. The book follows her journey into grief, self-reproach and self- discovery. Muske-Dukes directs the doctoral program in creative writing and literature at the University of Southern California; she's published six collections of poetry, the most recent titled An Octave Above Thunder. She's also a regular critic for the New York Times Book Review.