Marilyn Johnson is the author of The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries—described in one review as an "uplifting, joyous, life-affirming read for people who ordinarily steer clear of uplifting, joyous, life-affirming reads."
Some of the qualities that show up in obits go beyond raising tomatoes. They can be rather charming, in a quirky kind of way. Johnson has collected some beauties.
"There's just so many," she said. "'He used his penis to do impressions of Charles de Gaulle' is a pretty good one. There's one [professional obituary writer] Larken Bradley did recently about some guy who was famous for swatting all the flies at the bar. They'd leave a fly swatter next to his stool at the bar." [Link]