How Humor Takes the Sting Out of Death
By Victoria Zackheim (Editor)
(North Atlantic Books, Paperback, 9781583944073, 304pp.)
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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There’s nothing funny about dying … or is there? Malachy McCourt, Jacquelyn Mitchard, and 22 more share hilarious and moving stories of confronting death. Exit Laughing makes death more approachable as it reveals the funny side of “passing on.” As painful as it is to lose a loved one, Exit Laughing shows us that in times of grief, humor can help us with coping and even healing.
Best-selling author Amy Ferris explains how her mother’s dementia led to a permanent ban from an airline. Ellen Sussman writes of flying her mother's body home and watching the burial wardrobe spill out on the baggage carousel. Broadway and television actor Richard McKenzie shares the riotous story of a funeral procession led by a lost hearse. Bonnie Garvin even manages to find a heavy dose of dark humor in her parents’ three unsuccessful attempts at a double suicide. These stories, along with tales from Joshua Braff, Barbara Graham, Dianne Rinehart, and more, constitute a book whose purpose is to remind readers that when dealing with illness, aging, and dying, there is an important place for laugh-out-loud humor.
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.
"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.'"
"Exit Laughing puts a light twist on a serious topic: death."
“Exit Laughing makes death more approachable as it reveals the funny side of ‘passing on.’”
“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.”
“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