Have you ever had to write an obituary? If so, you'll no doubt remember how you wrote, edited, erased, and re-wrote to make sure that you had it just right. Most people who write obituaries want to present the facts about the deceased's life, family, and work in a positive light if at all possible. If you want to enrage or upset people, just try writing an obituary that is offensive or insulting to the deceased.
This happened recently when Colleen McCullough, best-selling author of "The Thorn Birds" passed away. An obituary that began tactlessly by saying "Plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth..." upset many of her legions of fans. Not surprising, really, since any writer - particularly those as talented as Ms. McCullough - deserves to be remembered for her writing, not her physical appearance.
Alexandra Petri, writing for the Toronto Star, responded to the McCullough obituary by writing opening lines for obituaries of several famous male writers and politicians. To read Ms. Petri's hilarious article, click here.
The attached photo of Ms. McCullough accompanied the article in the Toronto Star, and is credited to Patrick Riviere/Getty Images.