Final Chapters by Jim Bernhard
How Famous Authors Died

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The author makes many connections, but some writers merely went out from natural and not particularly interesting causes.
-NY Journal of Books

Synopsis

A fascinating look at how writers through the ages have approached death—in both the literary and literal senses.
 
“Everybody has got to die, but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case.” –William Saroyan, Pulitzer Prize–winning author
 
Dying has always been a topic for great novelists, poets, and playwrights to wrestle with—but how did they themselves shuffle off this mortal coil? As this compendium of true stories reveals, they did not always bow out gracefully—but often, they did depart in memorable ways.
 
Aeschylus was conked on the head by a turtle falling from the sky. Molière collapsed while playing the role of a hypochondriac in one of his plays. Edgar Allan Poe was found semi-comatose in someone else’s clothes before taking his last breath. Sherwood Anderson was felled by a toothpick in a martini. Sir Francis Bacon was poisoned by a raw chicken. And rumor has it that Dylan Thomas expired after eighteen straight whiskeys in a row.
 
Even after death, some unfortunates still met with indignity: Thomas Hardy’s expunged heart, meant to be interred next to his beloved wife, was eaten by his cat.
 
Whether they be sad, ironic, ignoble, ghastly, or shocking (literally, in the case of Thomas Merton), here are the stories of more than one hundred writers’ encounters with death, spanning nearly 2,500 years—and what each had to say on the subject, revealing varying degrees of fear, uncertainty, denial, acceptance, and humor. In Final Chapters, “Jim Bernhard gives a respectful nod to the understandable fascination most of us have with death…an often morbid but sometimes merry reminder that all flesh is grass, no matter how talented or rich or famous the bones it cloaks” (Star Tribune)
 
 

About Jim Bernhard

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Jim Bernhard's books include the acclaimed Porcupine, Picayune, & Post: How Newspapers Get Their Names and Stars in Your Eyes. His puzzles have been published in the New York Times, Performing Arts Magazine, and Simon & Schuster puzzle books. He lives in Houston, Texas.
 
Published October 13, 2015 by Skyhorse Publishing. 312 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction, Science & Math, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction
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NY Journal of Books

Above average
Reviewed by Robert Davis on Jan 11 2016

The author makes many connections, but some writers merely went out from natural and not particularly interesting causes.

Read Full Review of Final Chapters: How Famous Au... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

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