Dying Words

Categories: Get Lit
Owen Egerton has written an interesting book of stories, How Best to Avoid Dying. Egerton is one of three Austin funnies who told jokes during movies as the now-defunct Sinus Show. I used to go see them when I lived in Austin, but I have to admit, that was because my roommate had a crush on one of the guys. (No, it wasn’t Owen.) (And no, she didn’t sleep with him.)

The Sinus guys lovingly punched holes in movies. I remember, for example, them sitting in the front row of the Alamo Drafthouse and hooting about how Ralph Macchio was standing on a box – a visible box! – to make him tall enough to kiss Elizabeth Shue in Karate Kid. How many times had I seen that damn movie and never noticed?

In his book, Egerton transfers his magnifying glass from the movies to life itself. But he always adds a bizarre twist to reality, heightening it to make his point. In “The Fecalist,” writer Thurston Helbs is none too happy. His book has been called “trite and horrendously melodramatic” in a review by a close friend. Drunk and angry at the friend’s party, Thurston decides to shit on his bed, and the act is witnessed by all the guests. Convinced his career is over, he seduces the girl who works at the doughnut shop by his apartment in a moment of blissful, who-gives-a-damn freedom. But as it turns out, the incident revives his career. Thurston’s crap – his literal crap – becomes his art, to much acclaim, until the poo starts to run dry too. We’ll leave you to draw your own lesson from this tale.

Some other lessons Egerton offers:

1. If you run a Jesus camp, it’s best if someone dies every session.

2. Be nice to your penis, or it might take off. (“I’m leaving and I’m taking the testicles with me.”)

3. If you are a man and you accidentally fall in love with a woman and her husband, don’t worry: “You’re not gay. You are homoerotic.”

4. If you hate someone, kidnap her and bury her in a hole. The two of you might come to an understanding. You could even end up singing Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven on Earth” together.

Egerton has offered up a bizarre, enjoyable quick read. – Cathy Matusow

How Best to Avoid Dying, Dalton, $13.95

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