Sunday, December 08, 2013

You Can't Be Too Careful, by David Pryce-Jones

You Can't Be Too Careful: Cautionary Tales for the Impetuous, Curious, and Blithely Oblivious, by David Pryce-Jones

When my mother gave me this for Christmas there was a note on it that read, "Darwin Awards, Part 2!" I've often chuckled at the idiocy demonstrated by these awards and looked forward to reading it. The book is a collection of true, very short anecdotes—often a single sentence—that describe the ironic deaths of individuals from all over the globe. Many were funny and shared the appeal of the Darwin Awards, such as the man who shot himself demonstrating how Russian roulette works or the German pensioner that dies of a heart attack after hiring a stripper to perform in his flat. Others were of the just-desserts variety such as the faith-healer that died after tripping over his healing stool or the bank robber crushed by a security screen during a hold-up. A great many were simply sad though, giving a depressing feel to the book that overwhelmed the humorous aspects. The heavy drinker trying to cut back that dies of a heart attack caused by alcohol withdrawal is a good example, or the tragic tale of the python kept as a family pet that escapes and kills the seven-month-old daughter. A quick, light read, but it left me more melancholy than amused.

First Sentence:
A plumber died after jumping naked from his girlfriend's third-floor apartment near Salonika, Greece, to escape from the enraged husband who caught them in bed.

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