• Siri Hustvedt, author of the novels The Blindfold and The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, was in a deli one day when she misspoke and ordered a cinnamon Reagan bagel. The man behind the counter, a person of wit and intelligence, replied, “We don’t have any of those, but I’ll give you a Pumper-Nixon.”
• A friend of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick wrote a book titled Snakes of Hawaii. Some libraries even contacted the friend to get information about ordering the book. However, the book was a joke. All the pages of the book were blank because Hawaii has no snakes.
• Betsy Byars, the author of many books for children, has received many letters from her readers. One of her favorite letters says, “All of us have to write to a real live author. Please write and tell me you’re alive, or I will have to write a poem.” Another says, “I was reading THE BURNING QUESTIONS OF BINGO BROWN and I came to the word brassieres, and I didn’t know what that was and I raised my hand and asked the teacher. You could have saved me a lot of embarrassment if you had just said bras.”
• Sid Fleischman, author of the McBroom comedy series of children’s books, is a very good writer — so are many of the children who write him letters. In his autobiography, The Abracadabra Kid, Mr. Fleischman includes brief selections from some of the letters that children have written him. A few examples: “I’ve loved your book Jingo Django. Have you read it?” “I read Jim Ugly instead of playing Nintendo.” “I read The Ghost in the Noonday Sun. Keep your day job.”
• For a while, writer Agatha Christie was very unhappy with the book jackets of her mysteries — some even gave away the solution! She let her publisher know that she did not want the book jackets to give away the solution to the mystery, or even to reveal the plot or depict any of her characters. After receiving a few strongly worded letters, her publisher did as she wished.
• Paul Laurence Dunbar, the first African American to make his living as a writer, died of tuberculosis at age 33. During his last days, he described the routine of his life in a letter to a friend: “My life consists of going to bed at the beginning of the month and staying there, with very brief intervals of half an hour or so, until the beginning of the next month.”
• After Calvin Trillin’s beloved wife, Alice, died, he received many, many touching letters, including some from people who had not even known Alice. One woman who had not known Alice wrote that when she looked at her boyfriend, she sometimes thought, “But will he love me like Calvin loves Alice?”
• When Mark Twain got angry, he used to write a letter denouncing the person who had made him angry, but he wouldn’t mail the letter right away. He waited three days, and if he was still angry at the end of that time, he mailed the letter. But if he had stopped being angry, he would burn the letter.
• Mark Twain wrote a letter to a friend, asking him to visit. The friend wrote back, “God be with you, for I cannot.” Mark Twain wrote this note at the bottom of his friend’s letter, then sent it back: “He didn’t come. Next time please send someone we can depend upon.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
The Funniest People in Books, Volume 2 — Buy