• Norman Mailer was an activist, among his many other activities. During the Cold War, he was arrested in New York for civil disobedience when he appeared with 1,000 other citizens to protest a law requiring people to go to fallout shelters whenever an air raid drill was held. When the air raid drill siren sounded, many of the protesters unfurled umbrellas that bore the legend “Portable Fallout Shelter.” Mr. Mailer was also a parent. At the Elliott Bay Bookstore, he once did a reading. Afterward, he signed many books. In line with a parent was a boy. Mr. Mailer talked to the boy and asked him if he could do something for him. The boy replied, “You could help me with my term paper.” Mr. Mailer laughed, then said, “Oh, no, my son already asked me, and I told him no, too.”
• Some people really take politics seriously. Jack Huberman, a Canadian, became an American citizen so he could vote against George W. Bush in the year 2000 election. Mr. Huberman is the author of the books The GOP-Hater’s Handbook: 378 Reasons Never to Vote for the Party of Reagan, Nixon and Bush Again (published in 2007) and The Bush-Hater’s Handbook: A Guide to the Most Appalling Presidency of the Past 100 Years (published in 2003).
• In 2007, a notable hoax was perpetrated by the publishers of the Lemony Snicket books, which are subtitled “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” In this hoax, a new organization, the “Happy Endings Foundation,” was set up in order to promote happy endings in books for children. According to the foundation, “[S]ad books are bad books.” Therefore, members of the foundation wish to get rid of the Lemony Snicket books, even employing two gerbils to shred such books. The hoax was successful, being written up in some book blogs, and of course it garnered even more publicity for the Lemony Snicket books after journalists began writing that it was a hoax. As hoaxes go, this one was clever, and I encourage more hoaxes such as this, even though it may mean encouraging more shameless publicity for books that are so famous and so often purchased that they don’t need it.
• A few decades ago, advertising copywriter Edward S. Jordan wrote an automobile advertisement designed to appeal to women (aka “girls” in the first half of the 20th century) who loved the outdoors: “It’s a wonderful companion for a wonderful girl and a wonderful boy. How did we happen to think of it? A girl who loves to swim and paddle and shoot described it to a boy who loves the roar of the cutout.” Lots of letters from women poured in and praised the ad. A woman from West Park, Ohio, wrote this letter: “I don’t want a position with your Company. I just want to meet the man who wrote that advertisement. I am twenty-three, a blonde, weight 130. My wings are spread. Just say the word and I’ll fly to you.”
• Daniel Handler is often thought to be the real Lemony Snicket, author of the children’s book series called A Series of Unfortunate Events; however, Mr. Handler says that he is merely Mr. Snicket’s representative. For example, he often appears at book events that Mr. Snicket is supposed to appear at but does not. One day, Mr. Handler appeared at an event and said that an exotic bug had stung Mr. Snicket in the armpit, thus keeping him from appearing in person. To prove that this had happened, Mr. Handler bought the exotic bug — trapped in a glass — with him. He also gave the children who had hoped to see Mr. Snicket in person some excellent advice designed to keep them from ever having an exotic bug sting them in the armpit: “Never raise your hand, especially not in class.” By the way, Mr. Handler’s parents understood how to get him to read. They would read to him at night a suspenseful story and stop reading when they reached a cliffhanger. Then they would leave young Daniel with strict instructions not to turn on the light and read after they had left. Of course, young Daniel would turn on the light and start reading as soon as his parents had left — as they knew he would.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
The Funniest People in Books, Volume 3 — Buy