Thursday, October 08, 2009

Weird Books: Agatha Christie, The Great Brain, and Growing Pains

Here are three Weird Books that are notable not for crazy subject matter or violation of worldwide copyrights, but for being the little-known products of people famous for other works.

First, there's Agatha Christie. I'm sure you've all heard of her in her capacity as the famous authoress of mystery stories (Murder on the Orient Express, The Mousetrap, etc.). In what at first mention must seem to be a totally separate life of a totally separate person, she was also the wife of an archeologist and spent years accompanying him to digs in the Middle East. Thus it is that Christie also wrote Come, Tell Me How You Live, a memoir of her life among the Arabs (mostly in Syria) as an archeologist's wife, and one of my all-time favorite books. This book is as hilarious and endearing as her mysteries are intriguing and thrilling. And really, Agatha Christie in Syria, who knew?

Speaking of my all-time favorite books, and famous authors of fiction who wrote little-known memoirs, we have John D. Fitzgerald's Papa Married A Mormon. Fitzgerald also wrote The Great Brain books, which, if your childhood was anything like mine, you've read and re-read a few times over. But while The Great Brain and its sequels were fictionalized accounts of the author's childhood in Utah in the late 19th century, Papa Married A Mormon is a book for adults, and it tells the author's family story in a non-fiction setting. And it is GOOD. The story of his Catholic dad marrying his Mormon mom, even though it meant her disfellowship from the church, and his Catholic aunt coming out west in great state to save the heathen Mormon children (and actually checking their heads for horns), and all the accompanying adventures are both informative of the age and heartwarming. Plus, Tena Fitzgerald is one of my personal heroines.

The last weird book is an even more random product of its author. It's Life's Emergency Handbook, by, if you can believe it, Kirk Cameron. Those of you who are old enough may remember Mr. Cameron as a character on the sitcom Growing Pains. If you've only heard of him recently, though, this book might make more sense. I guess he's branched out of the child sitcom actor role lately. Anyway, Life's Emergency Handbook is a quick guide to first aid and safety. It's pretty good. The only piece of advice I remember off hand is that if you think someone is trying to get into your house, you should yell out to whoever to "get the gun," regardless of whether there is anyone else in the house with you, or if you even have a gun.

Anyway, there you have it. Three books written by famous people, even if they didn't get famous by writing them.


Suzanne Bubnash said...

Fitzgerald's books are some of my favorites. His Great Brain series is so unlike any other books for children and way more fun than most. I agree w/ your assessment of Papa Married a Mormon--Tena is the best, and I'm pretty sure all the stuff Fitzgerald describes must have happened the way he said it did. Who could have thought it up?

Nancy said...

I loved Papa Married a Mormon. My mom gave it to me to read at a time when some of my friends were being rather cruel to me about being a Mormon...and it helped me deal with that better/not take it quite so personally.

Susanne said...

Wow, those first two sound really interesting. Thanks for sharing a few different book choices with us.


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