As you know, today April 15, is Tax Day. They say of Christmas Day, “Tis better to give than to receive”—but it’s on Tax Day that they enforce it.
I published a bestselling book of poetry called “Death and Taxes.” This was way back when—way back when a book of poetry could be a best seller, and way back when they actually published books of poetry. Just try to go into a bookstore now and find a book of poetry, much less a bestselling one. You’ll have to scale over mountains of celebrity biographies and claw your way through a forest of self-help books first. I’ve given up. When I go into a bookstore these days—if I can find a bookstore these days—I rarely ever venture farther than the gossip magazines. The rest of the place is a jungle of nonsense.
But I digress… Taxes! I’ve decided I shall not be paying my income taxes this year. For one, making my income was taxing enough; I daresay I should be further taxed on it. For another, the tax forms are just too confusing. Depreciation? Dependents? Discombobulated! I barely got past filling in my name before I threw in the towel. If Uncle Sam wants my money so badly, let him come to my dilapidated apartment and ask in person. But first, let him go to those giant corporations that pay almost no taxes, before he comes knocking on my door. (Once Uncle Sam squeezes the blood out of the stone that is General Electric, he can take my few extra dollars.)
But again I digress… Death! That’s what we’re here to talk about. And never was there a livelier topic! Why are we so fascinated by it? Whenever a dead body shows up, the mystery reader surpasses the maggot and the worm in zeal to get to it. A morbid curiosity, indeed! What’s that you say? You take me for one of the literati—one who rubs elbows (and other parts of anatomy) with Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Ferber? That I am, but when I climb into bed with one of those literary giants (their books, I mean!) and they fail to satisfy, I do enjoy a good Whodunit. In all reverence I say Heaven bless the Whodunit, the soothing balm on the wound, the cooling hand on the brow. And Heaven bless the readers who read them!