Today in January’s biography section, Mary Ward Menke considers Too Soon to Say Goodbye by Art Buchwald, published not long before the Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist passed away early this year.

Buchwald was well aware of the challenge of writing a book about dying: death may be inevitable, but nobody wants to talk about it. He starts by explaining that the purpose of hospice is to make death easier for the dying person and their family and allow the individual to die with dignity. And then his sardonic self takes over: “The average stay (at the Washington hospice) before you go to heaven is a few days to two weeks. If you are going downhill, Medicare pays for it. If your condition stays the same as when you arrived, Medicare will not pick up the tab,” Buchwald said, summing up the situation thusly: “Dying isn’t hard. Getting paid by Medicare is.”

You can read the review here.

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