The way things have been going lately, we could all use a book of
smiles. Well, here it is. Poet Fred Samuels and columnist Joann Snow
Duncanson have teamed up to produce "Breakfast in the Bathrub". If
you’ve had enough of nasty weather, political strife and bird flu, or
if you happen to be President of the United States – this book’s for
you. Click for special excerpts from the book.
MEET THE AUTHORS: Upcoming book signings will be held at RiverRun
Bookstore in Portsmouth on Thursday, November 10 at 7pm, and at the
Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough on Saturday, November 19 at 2pm.
This book reminds us of the volumes we’re been reading by mid-19th
century Boston humorist BP Shillaber. There’s a pinch of this and a
pound of that, and then on to something else. That upbeat mix of poems,
narratives and short essays used to be a popular genre. People bought
Shillaber’s books, he always said, simply to smile. Making someone
smile in Victorian times was apparently a worthy effort. Shillaber
never advocated raucous humor, slapstick comedy or the kind of laughter
that makes milk run out your nose. He liked to make people smile.
by Peter E. Randall of Portsmouth, Breakfast in the Bathrub mixes tales
about Samuels’ growing up in Brooklyn, NY with Duncanson’s zany poem
about taking Emily Dickinson to the mall. All 36 poems and 23 stories
aim to make you smile.
Fred Samuels is a retired UNH Sociology professor, living in Alton,
NH. Among his earlier published books are To Spade the Earth, and
Intense Experience: Social Psychology Through Poetry. Joann Snow
Duncanson, from Greenland, NH, is the author of Who Gets the Yellow
Bananas? and is a newspaper columnist for The Peterborough Transcript.
She is also known for her performances on the lives and works of Emily
Dickinson and Celia Thaxter. Both writers are active in the Poetry
Society of New Hampshire and are members of The Seacoast Writers
Association and the New Hampshire Writers’ Project.
Breakfast in the Bathrub: A Book of Smiles
By Fred Samuels and Joann Snow Duncanson
Peter E. Randall, Publisher, 2005
126 pages, 6 x 9 paperback
BUY THE BOOK at RiverRun
SPECIAL EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK
MANY ARE COLD, BUT FEW ARE FROZEN
If my kids are reading this, listen up!! I DO NOT NOW, NOR HAVE I
EVER, WANTED TO BE FROZEN AFTER I DIE! For that matter, I’m not too
keen on being frozen before I die either. I’m not a winter person, but
I know that at least when spring comes, I can thaw out. I’m not so sure
there’d be a spring in my future if I were to be relegated to the
frozen section of some cryonic after-life supermarket. I don’t imagine
they bring birds and flowers into those repositories once a year just
to boost our spirits.
The only positive aspect I could see about being frozen, is that I
possibly could get to know Ted Williams, whose family has chosen this
route for him. I never understood much about the world of baseball, but
I always knew a good-looking man when I saw one, and he was definitely
good-looking. If the Splendid Splinter and I got iced together, perhaps
he could help while away the hours by transmitting some of his vast
baseball knowledge to me -- reading me some bedtime stats, reciting the
names of Hall of Fame guys, or at least explaining that mystery of all
mysteries -- why baseball players have to spit all the time. Sure,
baseball might not be the most interesting of topics for me, but a
refrigerated hereafter could last a long time, and I don’t suppose the
library’s bookmobile makes stops there.
Then there’s that other matter -- they say you are frozen in these
cylinders upside down. That right there is reason enough for a person
to beg off from being a cryonics customer. Granted, after you’ve died,
I suppose that old problem of the blood rushing to your inverted head
wouldn’t be too big a factor. And speaking of heads, some folks are
opting to have just that part of their body preserved. No thanks, I’d
rather be in one piece, thank you. It’s the whole enchilada or nothing.
Of course, if I thought they could attach my head to Britney Spears’
body someday, I might reconsider.
This whole business of cryonics is curious to most of us. I have
many questions. For instance, are we fully dressed all that time? With
a temperature of minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit, would a little polar
fleece help, or since we’d be in liquid nitrogen, should we pack a
There seem to be two basic reasons for people to choose the cryonics
route: (1) their ego is such that they feel their DNA alone will be
worth something someday, or (2) they want to know what it would be like
to "come back" to experience life in the far future. Personally, I
can’t imagine anyone clamoring for the DNA of a woman who helps make a
living by writing stuff like this! And as far as coming back is
concerned -- I’ve already had plenty of blessings and challenges in
this life, thank you.
The way I see it is this. Once you make up your mind that you don’t
want to go the traditional route -- being lowered below the sod in one
piece -- you have two choices: fire or ice. Since I’ve just ruled out
the ice route, fire seems the only choice left. For women, that may be
a natural solution. Now that they’ve taken away our Hormone Replacement
Therapy, what better way could we go out of this world than with one
final, gigantic hot flash!
Too bad, in a way. Ted Williams and I just might have hit it off.
The plump, young secretary
at the doctor’s office
calls me "Honey" when I come
for my monthly shot
of "Johnny Walker red"
(B-12 to the unhip).
I smile as an old graybeard
is expected to do, but
a part of that smile eludes her
-- for she does not know that
I still view all women
through the X-ray eyes of imagination.
Excerpted with permission of the authors from Breakfast in the
Bathtub: A Book of Smiles. Copyright Fred Samuels and JoAnn Snow
Duncanson. All rights reserved.