Laugh at death to enjoy life, says author

Wed Nov 19, 2008 10:34am EST
 
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By Miral Fahmy

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - In life, there's nothing more certain, or random, than death, so why not laugh about it and enjoy that extra chocolate biscuit, says David Southwell, co-author of black humour book "1001 Ridiculous Ways to Die."

More than a decade of journalism and newspaper editing, including covering the 1990s war in the Balkans, have left Southwell, a bestselling non-fiction author, with a dark sense of humor, and an irreverence for topics most people consider taboo.

"1001 Ridiculous Ways to Die" is Southwell's sixth book and was inspired by a conversation with co-author and long-time friend Matt Adams following a death threat from the Albanian mafia after the publication of his 2006 book "Global Gangland: The History of Organised Crime."

Southwell, a Briton, spoke to Reuters about how poking fun at a tragic topic should inspire people to live life to the fullest. The book is touted as the largest ever collection of "hilarious but true stories chronicling the most ridiculous, bizarre and astonishingly stupid deaths."

Q: What inspired you to write a funny book about death?

A: "Most journalists tend to have a very black sense of humor, it's a way of coping with the madness that you see every day, but this book was born out a of a conversation with Matt Adams over a curry after I had received a couple of death threats after my organized crime book. I was upset but Matt tried to put it all into perspective, telling me that I was just as likely to be hit by a bus. Then to cheer me up, he started telling me about all these ridiculous ways people had died that he had come across in the newspaper and that's where it all came from."

Q: But why should other people find this funny?

A: "Although death is such a taboo, there's also a guilty pleasure of laughing about it. It's the same reason that an accident is funny, as long as it doesn't happen to you. And although the passing away of someone is always sad, if the way they did it is funny, then it would be unnatural not to laugh."   Continued...

 
<p>Undated handout photo shows David Southwell, co-author of black humour book "1001 Ridiculous Ways to Die". Southwell, a Briton, recently spoke to Reuters about how poking fun at a tragic topic should inspire people to live life to the fullest. REUTERS/HarperCollins Publishers/Handout.</p>