cover image Too Soon to Say Goodbye

Too Soon to Say Goodbye

Art Buchwald. Random House (NY), $17.95 (189pp) ISBN 978-1-4000-6627-8

""Being in the hospice didn't work out exactly as I had planned it,"" begins Buchwald in what may or may not be his final book. In February 2006, Buchwald was told he would need ongoing dialysis, which he promptly decided to discontinue, moving into a Washington hospice to die on his own terms. What was intended to be a three-week exit for the Pulitzer Prize-winning author turned into months of visitors, rumination and writing. The result is this hilarious, sobering and unconventional study of the issues that accompany the end of life, such as living wills and surrogates, funerals, food and even sex. As he has throughout his career, Buchwald pares down overwhelming topics into manageable steps, gently and with humor, noting that, for instance ""the beauty of not dying but expecting to, is that it gives you a chance to say goodbye to everybody,"" and it's these goodbyes that provide Buchwald with the framework to revisit his storied career-spanning two continents, populated by global luminaries and celebrated with multiple awards. Though entertaining as a talented satirist's retrospective, it's also a valuable primer on how to meet death with bravery and grace, reminding us that ""the big question we still have to ask is not where we're going, but what we were doing here in the first place.""