David Bruce: The Coolest People in Books — Husbands and Wives

Husbands and Wives

• After writing Bud, Not Buddy, author Christopher Paul Curtis heard that it was being considered for both the Newbery Award, which is given to the best American children’s book published each year, and for the Coretta Scott King Award. (Honor books are second-place winners.) He also heard that if he won either award, he would hear the news by telephone by 9 a.m. He woke up at 5 a.m. and was so excited that he cleaned the entire house. His wife, Kaysandra, took their daughter, Cydney, to school. At 9:15 a.m. his telephone rang, but since it was after 9 a.m. he thought that it was his editor calling to offer him sympathy. It wasn’t his editor. Instead, it was a person telling him the very good news that his book had won the Coretta Scott King Award. At 9:32 a.m., his telephone rang again, and he heard the very good news that his book had won the Newbery Award. When his wife returned, he laid a trap for her, asking, “What if I won a Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King Honor, could I not do housework for an entire year?” She replied, “You’d have to win both the Newbery Award and the Coretta Scott King Award not to do housework for a year.” He then sprang the trap — he had in fact won both the Newbery Award and the Coretta Scott King Award! However, he says, “She’s not a woman of her word — I’m still doing housework!”

• After Louis Sachar, winner of the Newbery Medal for his young-adult novel Holes, started publishing books for kids, he began to receive many letters from students at Davis Elementary School in Plano, Texas, who wanted him to visit their school. He remembers, “Some of the girls had written things like, ‘Our cute, single teacher thinks you’re really great!’” He did visit the school, and he did like the cute, single teacher, but he ended up marrying someone else at Davis Elementary: Carla Askew, the school counselor.

• Tim Powers was visiting his friend the author Philip K. Dick one evening when Mr. Dick’s wife, Tessa, and her brother started carrying out lamps and furniture. Mr. Powers asked Mr. Dick, “Phil, they’re taking stuff. Is this OK?” Mr. Dick was used to being divorced, and he replied, “Powers, let me give you some advice, in case you should ever find yourself in this position. Never oversee or criticize what they take. It’s not worth it. Just see what you’ve got left afterward, and go with that.” Just then, his wife’s brother said to them, “Could you guys lift your glasses? We want the table.”

• In 1981, horror writer Stephen King’s wife, Tabitha, wrote her first book, Small World. She received $165,000 for the paperback rights, a huge sum for a first-time novelist, and she acknowledges that some of her success was made possible because she was the wife of a best-selling novelist. However, she also says, “I put 10 years into helping his career, so if his name helps me with mine, I think it’s [fair].” By the way, Mr. King’s beard is often seasonal — when it isn’t baseball season, he shaves it off.

• Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time, was married to her husband, actor Hugh Franklin, for forty years. The marriage ended only with his death. When both of them were in their sixties, he looked at her and exclaimed, “Darling! We’re never had time for a mid-life crisis!” Ms. L’Engle says that he was correct: “Life was too busy. But we do have wonderful children and grandchildren.”

• Wendy Cope’s second book of poetry, Serious Concerns, contains a number of what she calls “angry poems about men.” At one reading, a woman told her, “Three of my friends left their husbands after they read your book.” She replied, “Gosh, I hope they made the right decision.” Her other volumes of poetry contain fewer “angry poems about men.”

• On his deathbed, German poet Heinrich Heine changed his will, leaving everything to his wife — provided that she remarried. Why? He explained, “When Matilda remarries, there will be at least one man who regrets my death.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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