. . . Or Not to Be
is described, by its own editor, as "pornography." It's also oddly fascinating, a collection of suicide notes by the famous, including Kurt Cobain, Vincent Van Gogh, Diane Arbus, Sylvia Plath, and Virginia Woolf. Also included are poignant last words from the utterly obscure, including an anonymous Siberian who duly noted that "the snow will cover my footsteps," and a man who wrote "Bow wow and good-bye, Pepper," to his dog. Of particular interest in the collection are suicide notes by Dorothy Parker
, who survived, and Ken Kesey
, who was pulling a prank on the feds. Etkind also offers much factual material in the annotations to the many selections.