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Too Soon to Say Goodbye

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When doctors told Art Buchwald that his kidneys were kaput, the renowned humorist declined dialysis and checked into a Washington, D.C., hospice to live out his final days. Months later, “The Man Who Wouldn’t Die” was still there, feeling good, holding court in a nonstop “salon” for his family and dozens of famous friends, and confronting things you usually don’t talk abou When doctors told Art Buchwald that his kidneys were kaput, the renowned humorist declined dialysis and checked into a Washington, D.C., hospice to live out his final days. Months later, “The Man Who Wouldn’t Die” was still there, feeling good, holding court in a nonstop “salon” for his family and dozens of famous friends, and confronting things you usually don’t talk about before you die; he even jokes about them. Here Buchwald shares not only his remarkable experience–as dozens of old pals from Ethel Kennedy to John Glenn to the Queen of Swaziland join the party–but also his whole wonderful life: his first love, an early brush with death in a foxhole on Eniwetok Atoll, his fourteen champagne years in Paris, fame as a columnist syndicated in hundreds of newspapers, and his incarnation as hospice superstar. Buchwald also shares his sorrows: coping with an absent mother, childhood in a foster home, and separation from his wife, Ann. He plans his funeral (with a priest, a rabbi, and Billy Graham, to cover all the bases) and strategizes how to land a big obituary in The New York Times (“Make sure no head of state or Nobel Prize winner dies on the same day”). He describes how he and a few of his famous friends finagled cut-rate burial plots on Martha’s Vineyard and how he acquired a Picasso drawing without really trying. What we have here is a national treasure, the complete Buchwald, uncertain of where the next days or weeks may take him but unfazed by the inevitable, living life to the fullest, with frankness, dignity, and humor. “[Art Buchwald] has given his friends, their families, and his audiences so many laughs and so much joy through the years that that alone would be an enduring legacy. But Art has never been just about the quick laugh. His humor is a road map to essential truths and insights that might otherwise have eluded us.” –Tom Brokaw From the Hardcover edition.


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When doctors told Art Buchwald that his kidneys were kaput, the renowned humorist declined dialysis and checked into a Washington, D.C., hospice to live out his final days. Months later, “The Man Who Wouldn’t Die” was still there, feeling good, holding court in a nonstop “salon” for his family and dozens of famous friends, and confronting things you usually don’t talk abou When doctors told Art Buchwald that his kidneys were kaput, the renowned humorist declined dialysis and checked into a Washington, D.C., hospice to live out his final days. Months later, “The Man Who Wouldn’t Die” was still there, feeling good, holding court in a nonstop “salon” for his family and dozens of famous friends, and confronting things you usually don’t talk about before you die; he even jokes about them. Here Buchwald shares not only his remarkable experience–as dozens of old pals from Ethel Kennedy to John Glenn to the Queen of Swaziland join the party–but also his whole wonderful life: his first love, an early brush with death in a foxhole on Eniwetok Atoll, his fourteen champagne years in Paris, fame as a columnist syndicated in hundreds of newspapers, and his incarnation as hospice superstar. Buchwald also shares his sorrows: coping with an absent mother, childhood in a foster home, and separation from his wife, Ann. He plans his funeral (with a priest, a rabbi, and Billy Graham, to cover all the bases) and strategizes how to land a big obituary in The New York Times (“Make sure no head of state or Nobel Prize winner dies on the same day”). He describes how he and a few of his famous friends finagled cut-rate burial plots on Martha’s Vineyard and how he acquired a Picasso drawing without really trying. What we have here is a national treasure, the complete Buchwald, uncertain of where the next days or weeks may take him but unfazed by the inevitable, living life to the fullest, with frankness, dignity, and humor. “[Art Buchwald] has given his friends, their families, and his audiences so many laughs and so much joy through the years that that alone would be an enduring legacy. But Art has never been just about the quick laugh. His humor is a road map to essential truths and insights that might otherwise have eluded us.” –Tom Brokaw From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for Too Soon to Say Goodbye

  1. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    What a gift to be able to see the humor in one's own dying! Some critics disliked Mr. Buchwald's name-dropping in this book. However, as I read the book, I began to think of Art as my personal friend, and I was proud that I had a friend who knew so many famous people. The author wrote about his bouts of depression and his marriage which was "happy if you don't count the unhappiness". Although he and his wife separated, they remained close. Art planned his death carefully and was very concerne What a gift to be able to see the humor in one's own dying! Some critics disliked Mr. Buchwald's name-dropping in this book. However, as I read the book, I began to think of Art as my personal friend, and I was proud that I had a friend who knew so many famous people. The author wrote about his bouts of depression and his marriage which was "happy if you don't count the unhappiness". Although he and his wife separated, they remained close. Art planned his death carefully and was very concerned about his memorial service. He asked several people to write eulogies for that service, then decided to put them in this book. That way he got to read his own eulogies prior to his service. I found the eulogy his daughter wrote for Art especially touching. That one brought tears to my eyes, but most of the book was laugh-out-loud funny

  2. 5 out of 5

    Harley

    When I was a teenager, I loved to read Art Buchwald's satirical column in our local newspaper. So when I discovered this book, I bought it immediately and I was not disappointed. Buchwald wrote the book while in hospice, but as occasionally happens his health improved enough to be discharge from hospice, only to die a few months later. The book reads like a series of his columns. Some readers may not appreciate his style or his satire, but if you loved Buchwald in the newspaper you should feel l When I was a teenager, I loved to read Art Buchwald's satirical column in our local newspaper. So when I discovered this book, I bought it immediately and I was not disappointed. Buchwald wrote the book while in hospice, but as occasionally happens his health improved enough to be discharge from hospice, only to die a few months later. The book reads like a series of his columns. Some readers may not appreciate his style or his satire, but if you loved Buchwald in the newspaper you should feel like you are coming back home.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mary Blye Kramer

    Loved this book. Buchwald is told his kidneys are failing and he goes into hospice and his kidneys stop failing him so he writes a book and entertains friends. Funny and charming. Unfortunately, when I checked the dates, he must have left hospice only to become ill again because he died the following January.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    This was recommended to by someone, my friend Walter, I think. I finally got around to reading it. Three conclusions: 1. I wish I hadn't. 2. Art Buchwald is neither funny nor interesting. 3. I'm not sure Walter is allowed to give me any more book recommendations. This was recommended to by someone, my friend Walter, I think. I finally got around to reading it. Three conclusions: 1. I wish I hadn't. 2. Art Buchwald is neither funny nor interesting. 3. I'm not sure Walter is allowed to give me any more book recommendations.

  5. 5 out of 5

    JZ

    Oops! I checked this out for my mother with the book about the little old lady who killed neighbors who bothered her. She's wondering what kind of messages I'm sending her. I swear that I thought that this was the one about his wife, but I had no idea that it was about his own story of dying. Or not. He waits, and he waits, but he doesn't get the call, and he gets kicked out of hospice. I just finished it, now feeling the full impact of what my mother might have been wondering about my motives. N Oops! I checked this out for my mother with the book about the little old lady who killed neighbors who bothered her. She's wondering what kind of messages I'm sending her. I swear that I thought that this was the one about his wife, but I had no idea that it was about his own story of dying. Or not. He waits, and he waits, but he doesn't get the call, and he gets kicked out of hospice. I just finished it, now feeling the full impact of what my mother might have been wondering about my motives. No, Ma, I don't expect you to drop dead any time soon. This is the series of articles that he wrote as he sat in a hospice, expecting to check out in a few weeks, and he just got better and better. Confusion? Disappointment? Rejoicing? Yes. I love that Art totally embraced the moment, put his affairs in order, and waited, and waited, and loved every minute of it. I'm familiar with the acceptance of mortality, and the freedom it brings. Art found that. I won't include what I consider to be a spoiler, because I want you to find it on your own. This is, to me, a great way to conemplate one's own fatality. So many gems in his observations. Yes, you can read it for only the laughs, but there's a message he's conveying, gently, lovingly, hilariously. As usual. With love. For the people who reviewed it and found it not gripping enough in its story line, well, you might try a deeper reading. He was in hospice, expecting to die any day. He had to change his mind set, daily. You might try it yourself. It gives a special kind of freedom. Carpe diem.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cyrus Carter

    A quick read, perfect for Buchwald fans because of his irreverence and wit. I rated it a mere three stars as it would resonate only with his fans as well as for its brevity of sentence structure, which wears thin. His columns were excellent but to use the same format in book form is a tad tiring. The book serves as a reminder of those witty columnists who seem to harken of times past: Buchwald and Russell Baker are but two. Where are they today, when we need humor and wit in political columns, ra A quick read, perfect for Buchwald fans because of his irreverence and wit. I rated it a mere three stars as it would resonate only with his fans as well as for its brevity of sentence structure, which wears thin. His columns were excellent but to use the same format in book form is a tad tiring. The book serves as a reminder of those witty columnists who seem to harken of times past: Buchwald and Russell Baker are but two. Where are they today, when we need humor and wit in political columns, rather than polemic? I enjoyed this book and read it in one sitting on a Saturday morning. As I said before, recommended for his fans.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    With multiple books on loan from the library, I initially put off reading this book, thinking it might sadden me. However, after checking the due dates for all the books, I had to place this toward the top of the pile, and am glad I did, for it turned out to be a wonderful book. Art Buchwald died in January 2007, but not before writing this book while he was in hospice. (He outlived his hospice stay and spent many additional months back at home on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.) His humor an With multiple books on loan from the library, I initially put off reading this book, thinking it might sadden me. However, after checking the due dates for all the books, I had to place this toward the top of the pile, and am glad I did, for it turned out to be a wonderful book. Art Buchwald died in January 2007, but not before writing this book while he was in hospice. (He outlived his hospice stay and spent many additional months back at home on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.) His humor and sage observations are actually uplifting and inspiring. Perhaps I responded this way because my Mom chose VSED, which is voluntarily stopping eating and drinking. She had the same care and attention at home from a caregiver and family that it sounds like Buchwald had in hospice. I understood with her, and understood with Buchwald, the desire to control one's death and die with dignity and comfort. I also understood the desire for not living with an impairment that impacts quality of life. In Buchwald's case that would have been dialysis; for my Mom that meant living with her right leg and arm paralyzed due to a stroke. I actually found Art Buchwald's book refreshing to read and ponder.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Judith

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I love Art Buchwald. I used to read his column daily in the newspaper. He skewered everyone in Washington, D.C. and always kept it funny. He wrote 33 books and won a Pulitzer Prize. I had more or less forgotten about him till I read this interview of the librarian of congress (That's a real job---who knew?)in the NY Times Book Review. In it she recommended this book as a laugh-out-loud funny book about his getting thrown out of hospice. Irresistible. Art Buchwald had his leg amputated when he wa I love Art Buchwald. I used to read his column daily in the newspaper. He skewered everyone in Washington, D.C. and always kept it funny. He wrote 33 books and won a Pulitzer Prize. I had more or less forgotten about him till I read this interview of the librarian of congress (That's a real job---who knew?)in the NY Times Book Review. In it she recommended this book as a laugh-out-loud funny book about his getting thrown out of hospice. Irresistible. Art Buchwald had his leg amputated when he was 80-something and afterwards his kidneys failed. So he was told he'd have to have dialysis 5 hours a day, 3 days a week. He said, no thanks, and chose to go to hospice in Washington D.C. where he thought he would soon die. Months later Medicare refused to pay for any more time in hospice so he moved home to Martha's Vineyard and wrote this book. It is the most cheerful, delightful, fun, funny book in its own right, not to mention the funniest book from a person who's dying. And it should be a cheerful book because when the news got around that he was in hospice, everybody and their brother came to visit him and he received gifts, food, mail, calls, and every kind of homage a person could receive. What a wonderful way to go. Literal euthanasia.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    A clever, even funny book about Art Buchwald's after a disease that left his kidneys a mess, one leg amputated, and the need for dialysis. Art was in his nineties and decided to stop dialysis and enter hospice, to let nature take its course. What happened was...he didn't die. His kidney began to heal although it was still damaged, and he began to entertain visitors who brought him their stories, good food and wonderful company. His attitude is charming. He behaves as I imagine my father would ha A clever, even funny book about Art Buchwald's after a disease that left his kidneys a mess, one leg amputated, and the need for dialysis. Art was in his nineties and decided to stop dialysis and enter hospice, to let nature take its course. What happened was...he didn't die. His kidney began to heal although it was still damaged, and he began to entertain visitors who brought him their stories, good food and wonderful company. His attitude is charming. He behaves as I imagine my father would have if he had lived to a ripe old age and entertained his lifelong band of friends. At times, the accounts of visits felt too much like name-dropping...But Art was a journalist and had famous friends---Tom Brokaw, Ethel Kennedy, William Styron, Ben Bradlee. I won't go on. I believe there are hundreds of names mentioned. He is an endlessly optimistic person, and a clever humorist, but I never laughed out loud like I do when I read Tig Notaro or David Sedaris. Still, he gives a wonderful blue print for the end of life...things that should be considered if one doesn't want to leave one's spouse (in his case, she had died first) and children what you want in the end or after the end, and what to do with all the things you leave. Good Heavens, my poor children. The book ends with the eulogies he asked to receive before he died, so he could enjoy them before he died. Good idea. He received and published eulogies from Tom Brokaw, Mike Wallace, Ben Bradlee, George Stevens Jr., Ken Starr (there's a name from my past), His doctor: Michael Newman, His son, Joel, his daughter and the singer Carly Simon, who actually wrote a song to celebrate her Martha's Vineyard neighbor still being alive. These celebrations of Art's life and love of life form the last pages of the book. More than a book of humor or a list of Who's Who, this book is a tender reminder that there are ways to move towards the end of your life in which celebration of life is the main motif.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Keerthi Vasishta

    An absolutely delightful memoir and insight into a dynamic mind. The subject of death and dying, so unusual is presented to the reader in such humour and matter-of-fact eloquence that not once does one feel the grimness of the subject and the sombreness of the people who he represents through the book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Phyllis

    Art Buchwald , a great entertainer and famous columnist, suffers kidney failure and refuses dialysis. When he moves into a hospice he begins to hold court to all his fans. Against all odds he recovers some kidney function which enables him to live much longer than he had planned. His stories about this time in hospice are funny and light hearted about such a dark subject .

  12. 4 out of 5

    Susan Chervak

    Excellent! Made me laugh until I cried. It starts out a little slow but as life in hospice goes on and on a long wonderful humorfilled commentary allowed you to feel the joy of life. The end is as filled with love as it is acceptance. Amazingly satisfying read...with a few tears for what the world is now missing.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn

    I hope if I ever find myself in a similar situation--i.e. at the brink of death, given a reprieve, and having the opportunity to write a book right before I die, AND a wide already-established audience all over the world--that I will be more eloquent and serious.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Remath

    What else can be said When you choose to die and then don't, most people would be embarrassed. Not Art. I admire his decision not to continue dialysis and then to relish all the unexpected extra time he had. A delight and a primer on how to deal with the end of life. What else can be said When you choose to die and then don't, most people would be embarrassed. Not Art. I admire his decision not to continue dialysis and then to relish all the unexpected extra time he had. A delight and a primer on how to deal with the end of life.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    Wasn't for me. I had never read Buchwald over the years, but had heard from many sources that he was a funny man. Maybe so, but after about 40 pages, I gave up. Just didn't find him funny, although I admire him for his courage. Wasn't for me. I had never read Buchwald over the years, but had heard from many sources that he was a funny man. Maybe so, but after about 40 pages, I gave up. Just didn't find him funny, although I admire him for his courage.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kim Wingerei

    My dad loved Art Buchwald, and I was once a big fan, too - had kind of forgotten about him for a few decades when I stumbled over this. Recalled his irreverent style, appreciated the subject matter, but it became a one joke story. RIP to a very funny man.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Floyd

    I've loved Art Buchwald since the time I was first able to read a newspaper. He certainly did not disappoint with his last book. Many parts were laugh out loud funny, and others a stroll down memory lane of names and events. I would recommend this book to his many fans. I've loved Art Buchwald since the time I was first able to read a newspaper. He certainly did not disappoint with his last book. Many parts were laugh out loud funny, and others a stroll down memory lane of names and events. I would recommend this book to his many fans.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dipra Lahiri

    Writing a book while at death's door is just remarkable. And he's funny too. Writing a book while at death's door is just remarkable. And he's funny too.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    FABULOUS READ! Looking for a good read, here you go...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Humor in hospice. Managing one's end. He was fortunate to come and go. Humor in hospice. Managing one's end. He was fortunate to come and go.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sue Gaunt

    So similar to my dad’s final year. Made me wonder if he read this book...

  22. 4 out of 5

    SandyFrom Nj

    Interesting book about Art Buckwald's experience living at a Hospice. Interesting book about Art Buckwald's experience living at a Hospice.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    Art Buchwald is told that his kidneys are failing and has a short time to live. He checks into a hospice. The story is about his experiences while in hospice.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Necessary

    A great humorist, even when facing fast approaching death.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rob Pruden

    Not much to this book, but I was always fond of Buchwald and this added to his story so I am glad I read it

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alice Medeiros

    Funny and heart warming book written while he was in Hospice.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Marc Lonoff

    Clever and touching. Still, something was missing.

  28. 5 out of 5

    kate

    I read and enjoyed his column for years. Loved the way he could face the final exit with wit and grace. He was one in a million.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gerald Kinro

    What can I say? For decades, Buchwald has been one of my favorite humorists. Funny even on his deathbed when he makes a seemingly depressing subject like a hospice funny and inspiring.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Marilu Uland

    Slow I was expecting more of the funny Buchwald and not these scattered thoughts. I like Buchwald's work but not particularly this one. Slow I was expecting more of the funny Buchwald and not these scattered thoughts. I like Buchwald's work but not particularly this one.

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