Exit Laughing: How Humor Takes the Sting Out of Death

Overview

Exit Laughing is more than a collection of twenty-four personal stories, written by some of our country's finest authors, on the subject of death and humor. It's a reminder that all of us approach death in very different ways. Whether we face our death or the death of a loved one with fear, sorrow, joy, or confusion, and whether or not we believe in an afterlife, we cannot deny that death happens. Exit Laughing reminds us that in death there is a place for humor. Ellen Sussman writes of flying home her mother's ...

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Exit Laughing: How Humor Takes the Sting Out of Death

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Overview

Exit Laughing is more than a collection of twenty-four personal stories, written by some of our country's finest authors, on the subject of death and humor. It's a reminder that all of us approach death in very different ways. Whether we face our death or the death of a loved one with fear, sorrow, joy, or confusion, and whether or not we believe in an afterlife, we cannot deny that death happens. Exit Laughing reminds us that in death there is a place for humor. Ellen Sussman writes of flying home her mother's body and watching her mother's burial wardrobe spill out on the baggage carousel. Kathi Kamen Goldmark regales us with memories of playing the kazoo at Jessica Mitford's funeral. Broadway and television actor Richard McKenzie shares the riotous story of a funeral procession led by a lost hearse. Bonnie Garvin writes about her parents' double suicide attempt (and yes, it's funny!). Joshua Braff recalls a death in an upstairs bedroom during his childhood, Roadrunner cartoons included. L.A. Law star and author Michael Tucker describes his last visit with his dying friend, Cleavon Little, and how they said goodbye. International bestselling novelist Jacquelyn Mitchard writes about her husband's untimely death, and how his three best friends ended up held in a psychiatric hospital after the wake. These stories, along with seventeen other memorable essays, constitute a book whose purpose is to remind readers that when dealing with illness, dying, and death, there is an important place for laugh-out-loud humor.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Follow the adventures of a funeral party led astray by a lost hearse, or picture the kazoo being played at Jessica Mitford’s funeral. Some of the selections will remind readers of similar encounters with grief, and of the absurd events that interrupt the depressing times that force one to laugh in spite of the sorrow."
San Francisco Book Review

"Death happens, and the writers in Exit Laughing show that humor can serve as an acceptable and beneficial means to mend broken hearts. Laughter, Zackheim writes in her introduction, 'can open the door to emotions shared, and perhaps through this sharing we can not only process the reality of death but mend the complex and often difficult relationships we share with the person who is dying.'"
Shelf Awareness

"Exit Laughing puts a light twist on a serious topic: death."
J Weekly

Exit Laughing makes death more approachable as it reveals the funny side of ‘passing on.’”
—Literary Mama

“The stories in Exit Laughing all address a subject that many of us have difficulty discussing: death and its inevitability, its circumstances, its sadness and all the other emotions that go along with it. But the dominant theme running throughout this anthology, and hence the title, is humor. It is so welcome. Each of the authors in Victoria Zackheim's collection shares personal anecdotes and stories: fond (and sometimes not so fond) recollections all tinged with the love, feelings, and humor enjoyed with the subjects. Ms. Zackheim says in her introduction that so many of us use humor to ease pain; it can play an important role in helping us talk about and accept the death of a loved one. This anthology clearly underscores that concept.”
—Story Circle Book Reviews

“This comforting book makes the reader feel as if she has been invited to a dinner party to share not only good food, but personal stories about how humor appeared at times of death of a loved one.”
—Transitional Keys

“As we all know, laughter is good therapy, just as writing about death is good grief work. Exit Laughing: How Humor Takes the Sting Out of Death is funny and therapeutic. It’s a useful book for mourners, for therapists, and for anyone who is worried about the impending death of a loved one.”
PsycCritiques, American Psychological Association

“From beloved husbands to difficult mothers and more, this moving and often fiercely funny collection illuminates with grace, humor, and a few belly laughs the way someone’s death can change our lives.”
—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times best-selling author of Pictures of You
 
“In a culture where the discussion of death is basically taboo, the authors in Exit Laughing relate their stories with candor, compassion, love, and yes, humor. A perfect mix of gravitas and levity to the subject nobody wants to talk about: mortality. As funny and poignant as Harold and Maude, Exit Laughing makes it clear that even the Grim Reaper will put on a monkey face and maybe even giggle, when tickled.”
—Sara Pritchard, author of Crackpots and Help Wanted: Female

“I love this anthology! Absorbing, poignantly moving, but most of all, profoundly life-affirming.”—Sandra Gulland, best-selling author of Mistress of the Sun and The Josephine B. Trilogy

“This gem of an anthology about what we fear, avoid, would rather not mention, let alone read about—death—is the funniest book I’ve read in years. Exit Laughing is a bold, outrageous, never sanctimonious, death-defying collection that looks straight in the eye of the inevitable while making you laugh real tears.”
—Beverly Donofrio, author of Riding in Cars with Boys and Looking for Mary

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781583944073
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books
  • Publication date: 5/8/2012
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 531,979
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

Victoria Zackheim

Victoria Zackheim is author of The Bone Weaver, a novel, and the editor of five anthologies: The Other Woman, which was on the national bestseller list in Canada for several weeks, For Keeps, The Face in the Mirror, and He Said What?. Her play based on five essays from The Other Woman will begin a six-week theater run in summer 2012. Zackheim teaches Personal Essay in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and is a frequent speaker at writers' conferences, non-profit educational and philanthropic organizations, and book fairs. A 2010 San Francisco Library Laureate, she is actively involved in social media including Facebook, Goodreads, Redroom, Shewrites, and the AARP Writers Forum. A graduate of UCLA (BA) and San Francisco State University (MA), she lives in San Francisco.

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Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Another Expiration Date Malachy McCourt 1

The Last Laugh Jacquelyn Mitchard 7

Up Here Amy Ferris 13

Kitty... Mimi Karen Quinn 21

A Cold Awakening Dianne Rinehart 31

Baby Blues Jenny Rough 47

Cleavon Victorious Michael Tucker 59

Into The Light Barbara Lodge 65

Caraway Seed Cake Carrie Kabak 81

Death and Denial Barbara Abercrombie 97

Suburban Animation Joshua Braf 109

Measuring Grief Benita Garvin 117

Decca's Potty Kathi Kamen Goldmark 137

My Pet Dead Mole Zoe Fitzgerald Carter 145

Have Fun at The Funeral, Girls Sam Barry 157

Death With Dignity Sherry Glaser-Love 165

My Grandfather's Chicken Soup Aviva Layton 175

She Laughed Until She Died Victoria Zackheim 187

Tragedy Plus Time Christine Kehl O'Hagan 199

I Could Die Laughing Leon Whiteson 213

The Belle of Pittsburgh Barbara Graham 225

Burial Ground Richard Mckenzie 237

Virgo Starhawk 249

Fly With Me Ellen Sussman 271

Acknowledgments 275

About The Contributors 277

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