Death Becomes Them by Alix Strauss
Reviewed by Liz Axelrod
Did you know that one person attempts suicide every thirty-four seconds and one death occurs for every twenty-five suicide attempts? In America eighty-six people succeed at killing themselves every day. Divorced men are 400 times more likely to kill themselves than women. Men favor guns; women favor pills and razors. These and more tidbits can be found in Alix Straus’s clever and compelling Death Becomes Them. Ms. Straus does not go deep into the reasons or despair involved in the celebrity suicides she unearths, but she gives us insight and illustrates the methods and morality involved in famous suicides such as Sigmund Freud, Ernest Hemingway, Hunter S. Thompson, Sylvia Plath, Michael Hutchence, and Kurt Cobain.
These dark days of winter are the time of highest suicide rates so, dear reader, pick up the book instead. Get engrossed in the lives and the interesting and sometimes shameful details of the deaths illustrated here, such as Virginia Woolf’s first attempt at suicide – she tried to jump out a window but failed since it was on the first floor. Hemingway bought the gun for his own self-inflicted death from Abercrombie & Fitch (OMG!!). And after Kurt Cobain’s suicide, his wife, Courtney Love, found a piece of his skull on the floor and washed it, then later clipped off a swatch of his pubic hair as a memento. This well researched collection makes no statement in defense of or against suicide; it merely heightens our collective wonder and offers us a chance to live through some of our idols’ famous deaths.
Alix Strauss is the author of the award winning short story collection, The Joy of Funerals (St. Martin’s Press), and the editor of Have I Got A Guy For You, an anthology of mother-coordinated dating horror stories, (Adams Media.) Her latest book, Death Becomes Them: Unearthing the Suicides of the Brilliant, the Famous and the Notorious, was released by Harper Collins and has been optioned for TV. Her second novel, Based Upon Availability, is due to be released in June 2010, also by Harper Collins. Alix lives in New York City. For more information please visit her web site: http://www.alixstrauss.com