• E.B. White may be most famous for his children’s book Charlotte’s Web, in which a spider named Charlotte befriends a pig named Wilbur and saves his life by writing words in her web. The idea for the book came partly from Mr. White’s discomfort at raising a pig each year at his farm in Maine, only to butcher it when it was fully grown. In addition, one day he noticed a spider building a web in an outhouse, so he brought out a lamp and a long extension cord and watched the spider. From these experiences, and more, came Charlotte’s Web. By the way, sometimes people try to find hidden meanings in Charlotte’s Web, but Mr. White says, “Any attempt to find allegorical meanings is bound to end disastrously, for no meanings are in there. I ought to know.”
• Pioneer life could be difficult. In 1875, Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of Little House on the Prairie, was outside when she thought she saw a storm spring up on the horizon, then move closer. It wasn’t a storm — it was a cloud of grasshoppers. While Laura and her family hid in their house, the grasshoppers ate everything green, including the crops, the garden, the grass, and even the leaves in the trees. After eating everything, the grasshoppers moved west. Because the grasshoppers had destroyed his crops, Laura’s Pa walked 200 miles to eastern Minnesota to find work to support his family.
• John Steinbeck, author of The Grapes of Wrath, once left a setter puppy named Toby alone for a few hours. Unfortunately, he left Toby alone with a manuscript. By the time Mr. Steinbeck returned to the room, Toby had destroyed half of the only copy of the manuscript — two months’ worth of writing. Nevertheless, Mr. Steinbeck did not become upset, saying later, “I didn’t want to ruin a good dog for a manuscript I’m not sure is good at all.” Instead, he sat down and rewrote the manuscript, which was published with this title: Of Mice and Men.
• In New York City, a photographer asked humorist Erma Bombeck to move slightly. She moved where the photographer wanted her to go, then posed — but the photographer had wanted her to move out of the way so he could photograph a dog that was appearing in the movie Down and Out in Beverly Hills.
• R.L. Stine, the writer of the Fear Street and Goosebumps children’s book series, started out as a writer of comedy; for a while, he edited Scholastic’s humor magazine, which was titled Bananas. When his first book for children, How to Be Funny, was published, he went to a book signing, at which he wore rabbit ears. During the entire afternoon of the book signing, he autographed exactly one book!
• Being a best-selling author can be hazardous to one’s health. Horror writer Stephen King spoke at a library in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, then he signed hundreds of autographs. Even so, some people were not able to get their books autographed — Mr. King’s hand developed so many blisters that he was forced to stop signing his autograph.
• In 1975, Quentin Crisp’s book The Naked Civil Servant, was published, and this very out and very effeminate gay man became a celebrity. Suddenly, taxi drivers who had driven by him even though their taxi was empty not only stopped for him, but they also began to ask for his autograph, saying, “The wife’s never going to believe this!”
• Saul Bellow and his wife had an argument one day, so she threw several eight-by-ten glossy photographs of him in the garbage. A few days later, a knock sounded on his door. Standing in the doorway was the porter. He was holding one of the glossy photographs, and he asked Mr. Bellow to sign it.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
The Funniest People in Books — Buy: