Authors: Barry Nelson and Tom Schecker
Publisher: Sourcebooks
ISBN-10: 1402237448

“Twinkling Little Star Explodes in Supernova; Scientists No Longer Wonder What It Is”

“Little Engine Could; Brakes Could Not”

“Betty Crocker Dead at 88; Rich But No Longer Moist”

While I’m not given to hyperbole, the above headlines are typical of what readers will find in the funniest book I’ve ever read. And, while I’m not prone to use text abbreviations either, most readers will LOL at least four or five times a page, and that’s for 192 pages of non-stop comedy that’s varied, clever, original, and surprising.

What Barry Nelson and Tom Schecker offer us in this scrapbook of hilarious obits is the utter destruction of nearly every fictional character ever created for nursery rimes, comic strips, TV and films, literature, and mascots for commercials and sports teams. They do this using a number of techniques from playing with a distinguishing aspect of a character doing them in— intestinal blockage for Dagwood Bumstead; parodying the literary contrivances of the original—Inspector Lestrade completely missing the obvious when Sherlock Holmes is run over by a hansom cab; or simply providing obits with a twist at the end. (It would be unfair to point to examples--no spoilers here.) And some passings warrant several notices. For example:

Wilbur, 22 is SOME DEAD PIG

(AP) — Wilbur, porcine confidant of Charlotte the Spider, died in his sleep last night. Farmer Zuckerman reported that Wilbur was 22 years old. An intelligent blue-ribbon winner at 4-H events, the razorback was, however, considered by many members of the swine community to be a boar.

Eerily, the farmer's daughter, who discovered the body, was alerted to Wilbur's demise by a spider web woven above his pen that read "Some Dead Pig." The Zuckermans have promised to give Wilbur a proper send-off.

And this is followed by:

Rotary Club Meat Raffle

244 pounds, various cuts of pork for freezer, lickets $5, available at Zuckerman’s Farm.

James Bond, Fred Flintstone, the “Fonz,” Mary Poppins, and Snap, Crackle and Pop are all gone now. The one problem readers might have with these demises is whether or not they‘re familiar with decades of popular culture and all its icons. Younger readers might not have read “Lil Abner” and older readers might not be familiar with the online mascots for computer companies. But this is a book that’s a perfect gift, it really is, for nearly every occasion--with one obvious exception. Because of the range of the dearly departeds, there’s more than enough laughs for every generation, demographic, or taste. It’s one to leave on the coffee table for visitors or party guest to thumb through while waiting for the dining table to be set. If this book doesn’t put you in a good mood, I’m not sure you deserve one.