Why Don’t You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It?: A Mother’s Suggestions, by Patricia Marx and Roz Chast
I must admit that this book was not quite as funny as I thought it would be. It is by no means a bad book, but it is not nearly as amusing as it sets out to be. There is a whole host of humorous works that comes about seeking to capitalize on the humor of Jewish mothers, and this book is part of that. This book really doesn’t manage to succeed to the level that many other books do. The illustrations are certainly competently done, and the author is clearly trying to be funny, but trying to be funny and actually managing to be funny are not the same thing. Even the premise of the book falls short a little because the whole point of writing a eulogy is for someone not to try to “correct” it. If people are encouraged to speak no ill of the dead, after people die is an easy time to tell the truth about others that one could not tell when they were alive. And this book, of course, takes advantage of the vanity that people have in desiring to shape how others think about them after their death while they are still alive.
This book is a short one at less than 100 pages long. The introduction is relatively lengthy at more than 20 pages in which the author talks about her mother and gives an introduction to her life. If one is not that interested in the author’s mother, nor finds her all that compelling as a character, one’s enjoyment will be limited at best. Most of the book consists of rather threadbare advice from the author’s supposed mother, at least the version of the mother inside the author’s head, and nicely done illustrations. Really, the illustrations of this book are the most interesting part of the book. The text consists of things like this: “If you are writing a novel, I’ll tell you want to do: don’t make it boring (37).” If this is exciting or interesting to you, this book is here to enjoy, but for me, the real fun of this book is its pictures, which really alone making this book worth reading, at least to me.
My type of book about eulogies are examples such as the hypochondriac’s “See, I told you I was sick” and Mark Twain’s suggestion about the maid who fell into the fire: “Well done good and faithful servant”. They give the reader laughs as well as trigger great ideas.
Yes, I happen to agree that those are good books of eulogies to have. A laugh and a good idea is quite a lot to get out of a book.