David Bruce: The Funniest People in Books — Fathers, Food

Fathers

• Isaac Asimov wrote hundreds of books during his life. His father once looked at one of the many books Mr. Asimov had written and asked, “How did you learn all this, Isaac?” Mr. Asimov replied, “From you. You valued learning, and you taught me to value it. All the rest came without trouble.”

• Leo Rosten’s father emigrated from Poland to the United States. To learn English, he attended night school, where a teacher asked him for an example of a noun. He answered, “A door.” She then asked him for another example of a noun, so he answered, “Another door.”

Food

• When Gary Paulsen wrote his novel Hatchet, which is about a young boy who finds himself alone in the wilderness with only a hatchet when the person piloting the small plane he is in dies of a heart attack, he wanted the novel to be as realistic as possible. Therefore, whatever the hero, Brian, experiences in the novel, Mr. Paulsen also set out to experience in real life. In doing this, he was remarkably successful, even creating fire using a hatchet and a stone. However, he experienced a setback when he attempted to eat turtle eggs. The eggs so nauseated him that he vomited, despite three valiant attempts to eat them. However, his lead sled dog, Cookie, enjoyed eating the eggs — she also enjoyed eating his vomit. Despite his lack of success in eating the turtle eggs, Mr. Paulsen decided to leave the egg-eating scene in his novel — he figured that Brian would be so hungry that he would be able to eat the eggs and not vomit.

• One morning, President Theodore Roosevelt sat down to a breakfast of sausages with a book in his hands. The book was The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, and President Roosevelt read, “There was never the least attention paid to what was cut up for sausage … meat on the floor, in the dirt and sawdust, where workers had tramped and spit uncounted billions of germs … meat stored in great piles … and thousands of rats would race about on it.” President Roosevelt screamed, “I’M POISONED!” — then he threw his breakfast sausages out a White House window.

• Alex Haley knew that he wanted to be a writer, and he was willing to live in poverty in order to have time to write. While Mr. Haley was living in New York City, a friend offered to give him a job, but he turned it down because he wanted to be a writer. Mr. Haley then took stock of his food supplies, and he discovered that he had only two cans of sardines — and to replenish his food supply, he had only 18 cents. The next day, Mr. Haley sold one of his articles, and he framed the two cans of sardines and the 18 cents. Later, of course, he wrote Roots.

• The ancient Greek poet Timokreon was born on the Mediterranean island of Rhodes, but he became the guest of the king of Persia. While sitting at the king’s table, Timokreon ate so much that the king of Persia was astonished, but Timokreon explained that he was stuffing himself so he could demonstrate his fighting skill the next day. He made good on his boast, and after defeating several warriors, he started slashing his sword at the air, explaining that he still had many blows left for anyone who wished to fight him.

• While riding the bus home, gay author Michael Thomas Ford heard a couple of teenage boys talking about “faggots” and saying that a certain macrobiotic restaurant the bus had passed was a hangout for “fags.” One of the boys says, “All them homos eat that health food sh*t.” When Mr. Ford got off the bus at his stop, he first leaned down to the boys and said, “You know, some of us homos eat the same crap you two do.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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