The Funniest People in Books, Volume 3: 250 Anecdotes
by David Bruce
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Some samples: 1) Brian Garfield is the author of “Death Wish,” a novel about a man who becomes a vigilante after hoodlums rape his daughter and murder his wife. It became a very popular film starring Charles Bronson, who also starred in four sequels. Mr. Garfield got the idea for the novel after discovering that someone had used a knife to slash the canvas top of his convertible. The night was cold, he had a two- or three-hour drive home, and as he drove, he was thinking, “I’ll kill the son of a b*tch.” Mr. Garfield says, “Of course by the time I got home and thawed out, I realized the vandal must have had a strong sharp knife (convertible-top canvas is a very tough fabric to cut) and in reality I didn’t want to be anywhere near him. But then came the thought: What if a person had that kind of experience and got mad and never came out of it?” Writing the novel came easy to him—it took two weeks. Mr. Garfield jokes, “Several alleged friends asked, ‘What took so long?’” 2) When Norman Mailer ran for Mayor of New York, his running mate was Jimmy Breslin. Their rallying cry was “Vote the rascals in!” Both writers were known for living rather than merely existing, and when they spoke to police students at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, they ran into a police officer who asked Mr. Mailer, “If you and Breslin go ape on the same evening, who will run the city?” Mr. Mailer, of course, was an original (as was Mr. Breslin). Mr. Mailer had a column in the “Village Voice” for a while, but he quit after four months because a mistake in copy-editing had changed his “nuance” into “nuisance.” Obviously, Mr. Mailer’s beliefs, whether in literature or politics, were strong. After deciding to vote for Bobby Kennedy, whom he thought had a prep-school arrogance but was capable of greatness, Mr. Mailer wrote, “To vote for a man who is neuter is to vote for the plague. I would rather vote for a man on the assumption he is a hero and have him turn into a monster than vote for a man who can never be a hero.” 3) When ballerina Allegra Kent decided to write her life story, at first she thought of getting the help of a professional writer. This did not work out. When the professional writer met Allegra’s husband, whom she had divorced and who had had many affairs, the professional writer asked him, “What is the state of your pr*ck?” She also asked Allegra, “By the way, have you ever slept with anyone famous?” (Allegra disappointed her by answering, “I don’t think so.”)
- David Bruce, November 2011
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