Adventures in the Book Trade (Part 6)

In which The Author fears for a young man’s life

One of my pals has just shared a nice cartoon on Facebook, based on an imagined (yet plausible) conversation between a couple of well-known comic book characters:


It reminded me of a customer who came into our bookshop one morning, looking for an eighteenth birthday present for her son. All she knew was that he was a fan of Nirvana, and she’d spent some time looking through the various books about the kings of Grunge.
Eventually, with a worried expression on her face, she approached the counter. She explained the situation, and commented that all the books about Nirvana and/or Kurt Cobain went into detail about his death.
‘The thing is,’ she said, ‘he’s still quite impressionable. I don’t want to get him anything that talks about suicide.’
That put us in a bit of a predicament, as you can imagine.
‘Well, you see the problem is,’ I said, none too sympathetically, ‘that Kurt Cobain was a junkie who blew his face off with a gun. It’s probably the most famous thing about him. All the books are going to mention it.’
‘Oh,’ she said. ‘In that case, I might get him something else.’ She headed back to the music section and carried on browsing.
When I glanced over a few minutes later, she was leafing through a biography of John Lennon (who was shot, aged 40.) I carried on serving in the mean time. When I looked across again, she was holding a book about Jimi Hendrix (who choked to death, aged 27.) Then I went for my break, leaving one of the girls at the counter.
I returned twenty minutes later. By this time, the same customer had moved on to the Classical Music section. She was skimming through a book on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who famously died aged just 35.
I drew my colleague’s attention to her current selection, and whispered, ‘I really don’t think her son will make it to eighteen at this rate.’