David Bruce: The Funniest People in Books — Death

Death

• While traveling, Mark Twain and his friends tortured irritating tour guides by constantly asking if someone was dead. For example, when a tour guide showed them a bust of Christopher Columbus, they would ask, “Is he dead?” Once, Mr. Twain and friends visited the Capuchin Cemetery, where the bones of dead monks were used to make arches and other ornaments. One of the exhibitions of the cemetery was the corpse of a monk who had been dead for 150 years. Mr. Twain decided to cut the tour short because he could tell that his friends were tempted to ask, “Is he dead?”

• Children’s author Roald Dahl almost died because of careless instructions. During World War II, he was told to fly to a certain airbase but when he arrived nothing was there because his instructions were off by 50 miles. Low on fuel and with night approaching, he decided to try to land the plane. He crashed, and he suffered serious head injuries. Fortunately, he managed to get out of the plane. The burning plane attracted the attention of some British soldiers and Mr. Dahl was taken to a military hospital.

• Dorothy Parker was cremated after her death. She greatly admired Martin Luther King, Jr., and she bequeathed her estate to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Her ashes are at the headquarters of the NAACP, which dedicated a memorial garden to her memory. The marker in the garden says, “This memorial garden is dedicated to her noble spirit, which celebrated the oneness of humankind and to the bonds of everlasting friendship between black and Jewish people.”

• As a man who has spent much time in the wilderness, Gary Paulsen, author of Hatchet, has seen corpses of people who have died of many things, including “blatant stupidity.” In one remarkable case, a man went cross-country skiing in the dead of winter but neglected to take along matches or a lighter. He broke his leg and froze to death, although enough wood was around him to have kept thousands of people warm.

• Robert Benchley and Charles MacArthur attended the funeral of a friend whose wake had been held in a third-floor walk-up apartment. After the service, the pallbearers picked up the coffin and started to carry it down a twisting staircase that forced them to hold the coffin in a slanted position. Watching them, Mr. Benchley commented, “Oh my, the change will fall out of his pocket.”

• A man asked Scottish poet Robert Burns to lend him his black coat so he could attend a funeral the following day. Mr. Burns replied that he would be attending that funeral, so he could not lend him his black coat. But he suggested, “I can recommend the most excellent substitute. Throw your character over your shoulders. That will be the blackest coat you ever wore in your lifetime.”

• While writing Roots, Alex Haley became depressed. He suffered from writer’s block, and he traveled on a ship to Africa, hoping that it would help him to write. One night, he thought about throwing himself overboard and drowning, but then he heard the voices of his ancestors, including Kunta Kinte and his grandmother, speak to him and tell him that he had to finish Roots.

• Quentin Crisp, author of The Naked Civil Servant, could be bitchy when confronted by public displays of grief over the deaths of celebrities whom the mourners did not know. When a crying woman ran into a cafe where Mr. Crisp was sitting and dramatically announced that the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas had died, Mr. Crisp asked, “Was he a relation of yours?”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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BRUCE’S RECOMMENDATION OF BANDCAMP MUSIC

Music: “Hot Blood” from the album SOULS FOR SALE

Artist: Verbena

Artist Location: Birmingham, Alabama

Record Company: Fat Possum Records

Info: Released 7 January 2020

Verbena is a flower

Price: $1 (USD) for track; $7 (USD) for 10-track album

Genre: Rock

Links:

Verbena on Bandcamp

https://verbenamusic.bandcamp.com

SOULS FOR SALE

https://verbenamusic.bandcamp.com/album/souls-for-sale

Fat Possum Records

https://fatpossumrecords.bandcamp.com