Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Why It's a Bad Idea to Be a Writer

You will no doubt come to a bad and possibly picturesque end.

At his farewell cocktail party, [Sherwood] Anderson unknowingly swallowed a toothpick hidden within an hors d'oeuvre. The author sailed on, but the toothpick didn't, penetrating his intestines and causing peritonitis. Anderson became ill aboard ship and later died in a Panama hospital.
...
In 1925, while working at a restaurant in Washington D.C., [Langston] Hughes tucked a few of his poems under the dinner plate of then-reigning poet Vachel Lindsay. Lindsay shared the poems during his reading that night, and in the morning, Hughes was crowned Lindsay's new discovery, the "busboy poet."

Hughes went on to become one of America's most prolific authors. Lindsay, however, died six years later after drinking a bottle of Lysol.

From an article in Mental Floss (how I loathe that name) via CNN.com.

9 comments:

the individual voice said...

But think of all the writers that didn't happen to. Maybe, statistically, more non-writers die of toothpick perforations and Lysol poisoning. Maybe it's protective, statistically speaking, to be a writer. No? (I mean, aside from all the writer suicides).

rmellis said...

You and your statistics! Schmatistics!

Actually, if you discount the suicides, I bet writing is a very safe occupation. But can you discount the suicides?? Self-loathing does seem to be part of the job description.

Drinking Lysol!!!

Pete said...

The key to artistic immortality: live fast, die young AND have a particularly memorable and unique demise.

the individual voice said...

OK, you have got me going. You cannot discount the suicides. They are in fact an occupational hazard. (I assume the Lysol ingestion was deliberate) But the question is, counting the suicides, which is safer: construction work on skyscrapers or writing?

rmellis said...

Now here's an interesting website: the untimely demise of every construction worker on the job has been logged here. A couple years out of date, unfortunately...

http://www.totalsafety.org/currentindustrynews.html

ed said...

Rilke = rose thorn.

ed said...

Frank O'Hara = dune buggy

ed said...

Who was it died from a turtle shell dropped by an eagle? James Michener?

jrlennon said...

Balzac. Wrote himself to death.

Hard to beat that.